14 February 2013

Swaziland: Election - 'Ritual Murders Will Rise'

There are fears in Swaziland that the number of ritual murders will increase this year ahead of the national election.

The Swaziland Epilepsy Association warned that cases of the abduction of epileptic people always increased during elections.

Mbuso Mahlalela from the association told the Swazi Observer it was common that during the time of elections the vulnerable were targeted and abducted.

He warned that people who were known to suffer from the illness should be taken care of, particularly during the time of elections.

Mahlalela was speaking after a report that a 13-year-old epileptic boy might have been abducted for ritual purposes.

The number of ritual murders increases during election year. Before the last election in 2008 a march by civil society groups to draw attention to the problem was banned by the government amid fears that it would bring bad publicity to Swaziland and might embarrass King Mswati III, who had spoken out against the practice.

The Times of Swaziland reported at the time that the march had been motivated by the mystery disappearances and murders of women. Some of these had been found mutilated fuelling speculating that they were related to rituals.

Some Swazi people believe body parts can be used as 'muti' which is used to bring good fortune to candidates at the election and help them to win seats in parliament.

In 2008, it was strongly rumoured in Swaziland that the reason why members of the government wanted to ban discussion on the ritual murders was that some of them had themselves used 'muti' to get elected.

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