Human sacrifice in Uganda: 'They target children; they catch them when they walk to school or go to fetch water'

Human sacrifice is shattering the lives of families in Uganda, killing innocent children and leaving survivors with horrendous memories

Kanani Nankunda bears a ten-inch long scar on the back of his neck where he was cut and left to die in a case of attempted human sacrifice.

His sister, just eight years old, was killed and mutilated beside him; her body opened and her organs snatched, all in the name of witchcraft.

Shelin Kasozi, a worker with Kyampisi Childcare Ministers (KCM) in Uganda, says that child sacrifice is on the rise in the country, the belief being that members of the elite can increase their new-found wealth though the sacrifice of the young.

KCM say they receive several cases of child sacrifice a month. Police figures in the past decade reported just one such case in 2006, rising to 29 by 2009. KCM cares for a number of child sacrifice survivors, like Kanani, who since the ordeal has become withdrawn and unable to cope with new people or places.

"The people that are really targeted (in human sacrifice) are children because they find them walking to school, or going home, or going to fetch water, so that us when they get the children," Kasozi told the AFP.

Witchdoctors or "traditional healers" say they can communicate with spirits and solve problems, cure illnesses and banish evil. Witchdoctors will tell people who come to their aid that the spirits require a certain body part from a child. Thus, people become intent on finding children, who become a currency for the healing of people's ills or ensuring greater wealth. People target the hearts, ears, livers and genitals of children.

A BBC investigation by Chris Rogers in 2011 found that human traffickers were helping to transport children across Africa and abroad for sacrifice - with the report finding witchdoctors in the UK using human blood in their rituals.

This is not just a pursuit of uneducated individuals in Uganda's rural areas; Moses Binoga, the head of an anti-human sacrifice taskforce in the country, alleged that people involved in child sacrifice include the nation's elite. 

"We even suspect that  senior politicians, senior civil citizens who have that belief, who believe in witchcraft and go to that level of sacrifice to maintain their jobs or get work," he told the AFP.

The man who attacked Kanani Nankunda has been imprisoned for the attack on the young boy, but has not yet received a sentence for the murder of the his sister.

The father, Joseph, said, "I want him to get the death penalty so that he will be an example to others."

Additional reporting by the AFP.

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