Church leaders in Uganda are condemning the killing of children for sacrifice, while demanding government action on the rituals, which many people say are increasing.
"Many are the crying mothers who have lost their children to child sacrifices. Some think: ‘If I sacrifice human blood I shall have money, then have peace and happiness’," Anglican Archbishop Henry Orombi had rued in a pastoral letter during the Christmas season. "Innocent blood is a curse to the nation and brings barrenness to social achievements."
In recent weeks, other church leaders have condemned the acts and demanded severe punishment for those involved in a process whereby children are lured with promises or kidnapped. Some children are reported to have been sold off or offered by parents or guardians, who hope to grow rich as a result. People who say they are traditional doctors are said to believe children’s body parts make their magic more powerful.
"The killing of children in the Buganda region has reached alarming levels," Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa of Kiyinda-Mityana diocese was quoted as saying in the New Vision newspaper on January 6. Uganda media have recently reported the arrest of a Kampala property developer, who allegedly engaged two witchdoctors to decapitate a 12-year old boy in a ritual ceremony. According to the reports, the head of the child was buried under the foundations of a building being constructed, to provide magic protection for its owner.
"The government must also wake up to fight child sacrifice. The vice is a big national shock," Anglican Bishop George Tibesigwa of the Ankole diocese told a meeting in central Uganda on January 4.
In December, the government admitted that ritual killing was on the rise and promised to impose stiff punishments for ritual murderers. The ethics and integrity minister James Nsaba Buturo told journalists, "Child sacrifice has confronted the nation with its ferocity, barbarity as well as frequency. It has become a national danger."
Ritual murders are reported to be targeting children for their sexual organs, tongues and fingers, which are said to be mixed with herbs to make potions for clients.