Enraged Tanzanian villagers beat to death four people suspected of involvement in the murder of a seven-year-old girl, a regional governor said Sunday.
The body of Rachael Malekela was discovered on Friday, making her the latest victim in a spate of apparent ritualistic murders that has claimed about a dozen children in Tanzania’s southern Njombe district since the start of the year.
“Following Rachael’s murder, angry residents separately attacked and killed four people suspected of being involved in the murder, Christopher Olesendeka, governor of the Njombe province told a public meeting.
Police are searching for those who committed the killings on Saturday, Olesendeka said.
Local Tanzanian authorities believe the children are being killed for their bodyparts to be used in superstitious rites. The killers systematically remove the victims’ genitals, ears, and tongues.
At Rachael’s funeral on Saturday, district chief Ruth Msafiri said a specialised police unit had been deployed to Njombe to solve the string of child murders that has alarmed the entire country.
A statement issued by 25 Tanzanian organisations, meanwhile, urged compatriots to give up dangerous traditional beliefs.