The Namibian police have dismissed as mere rumours, stories circulating in Katima Mulilo that ritual killings are prevalent around the town.
Talk of ritual killings, involving the harvesting of human body parts from live victims for black magic ritual purposes – apparently to make people become rich – have been doing the rounds following the abduction of two teenage boys in Katima Mulilo last month.
In that incident three men, one of them a taxi driver identified as Sabiso Samulandela (30), as well as Vasco Kabaolwa (23) and Midrick Sinvula (30), were arrested and are still in custody after they allegedly abducted and bundled two teenage boys into the boot of the car and drove them to a nearby dumping site.
It is not clear what their intentions were, but they were subsequently intercepted by an alert member of the police who had trailed them.
The recent rumours emanate from the alleged disappearance of street kids in Katima Mulilo, as another child was rumoured to have been abducted in similar fashion in Chotto last week by yet another taxi driver.
At a press briefing, called jointly by Katima Mulilo Mayor Charles Matengu and police regional spokesperson Sergeant Kisco Sitali, such claims were dispelled. “The issue of street kids has been generalised. From the police, we have not recorded any missing street kid. It could be that the street kids have found another way of survival. That’s why they are no longer seen. About the child that was alleged to have been abducted in Chotto, it was just a misunderstanding and there was no abduction there.
“The matter was already resolved by the police. The kid was playing in the street and then hopped onto the back of a slow moving taxi. The taxi driver got hold of this boy and took him to his parents,” Sitali explained.
Another rumour that has caused hysteria, particularly on social media networks, even prompting the inundation of the call-in programme on Silozi radio, is that a man, known as Mwatanda, was killed and his private parts removed.
This too proved not to be the case, according to the police, who have cautioned people to show restraint and report cases if they have concrete proof, rather than cause unnecessary panic.
“Messages were circulating that Mr Mwatanda has been killed. We visited his place on Friday and he is well. He just did not come to Shoprite, where he is normally sweeping, because he said he had a backache. We appeal to those with evidence to report any such cases, or even use our toll free number or suggestion box if they wish to be anonymous,” implored Sitali.
Sitali further noted that the police cannot arrest nor investigate any person without evidence, in reference to members of the public who have expressed disappointment over what they say is sloppy police work in probing business people they allege to have been seen visiting those arrested for last month’s kidnapping.
“The police are only aware of a single case of two teenage boys, who were abducted. We acted quickly and the suspects are in custody. Their case will be heard again on the 25th of this month. With regard to those (business people) said to be visiting the suspects, unfortunately the law does not prohibit anyone from visiting a suspect. We cannot arrest anyone for that,” explained Sitali.
Katima Mulilo Mayor Charles Matengu echoed similar sentiments urging residents to report any such cases if they have evidence, rather than stir up fear and hysteria by complaining on radio. He further noted that it is the parents’ responsibility to take care of their children and report any missing child to the local police.
“I had a meeting with the police leadership last week and we agreed to call a press briefing today. People are talking about this and these are serious accusations. It is best to report these cases if people have evidence, rather than calling the radio call-in programme,” Matengu advised.
With the regional and local authority elections fast approaching Matengu stated that such unsubstantiated claims also have the potential to disrupt the election process. “The voter turnout might be low, since voting closes at night and some people might be scared to go and vote because of this,” he warned.