Ritual murder seen as way to local power in Gabon
LIBREVILLE (AFP) Pre-election ritual killings in Gabon are on the
rise, carried out by secret networks, scavenging for blood or body
parts in pursuit of boundless health, wealth, success and power.
"Unfortunately, this practice seems to be spreading again in Gabon,"
said Jean-Elvis Ebang Ondo, founder of the ALCR, the Association to
Fight Ritual Crimes, since his 12-year-old son was kidnapped, killed
and mutilated in 2005.
The ALCR and the Gabonese media claim such killings become more
common in the weeks ahead of local elections, because candidates
encourage sacrifices on their behalf. Ebang Ondo says there have been
12 ritual murders since February.
Edang N'na Ralph of Makokou in northeast Gabon early in March became
a 13-year-old victim of ritual crime ahead of municipal elections
across the equatorial African country on April 27. He was found
strangled, almost bloodless, with holes in his genitals and breast
bones, neck and feet. Sexual organs, eyes, ears, tongues, lips and
bits of flesh are all considered sources of power.
"The child was hanged to make believe that he committed suicide," a
health official in Ogooue-Ivindo province told AFP. "But before that,
his blood was drained. There's no doubt it was a ritual killing."
Local people in Makokou township asked for April's elections to be
postponed until the culprits are caught.
Ebang Ondo condemned what he described as a quick-fix practice used
by power hungry politicians, who will never be arrested. He also said
that once you get caught up in ritual killings, it is difficult to
say no and back out.
"If someone does you a favour, you must follow orders and kill when
you're asked to carry out a human sacrifice," Ebang Ondo said.
"You can't just choose anybody," Ebang Ondo explained. "The victim
must be of quality," since the soul and the blood of the dead person
were held to strengthen the beneficiary physically and mentally.
"Arrests are rare and those who are detained are never the ones who
order the killings," he added, blaming people in office. "There are
political orders to stop investigations."
A leading public figure in Gabon, Marc Ona Essangui, heads a campaign
for an international probe into such ritual murders, while Frederic
Ntera Etoua, who represents people in Makokou, wants
an "international inquiry commission" to look into the death of young
Interior Minister Andre Mba Obame said he considered casualty tolls
given by the ALCR and in the press exaggerated, though he admitted he
had no precise figures.
"Crimes feed rumours. Every corpse found is subject to an
investigation," the minister told AFP. "People believe that every
recovered body, battered by the sea or whatever, is the victim of a
He acknowledged that such crime exists in Gabon, but denied any
attempts by authorities to block inquiries. "There are no orders to
stop anything of any kind," he said.
Nzo-Meko Francois, the father of Edang, said he regularly asked
authorities for further details, to get the same answer each
time: "Nothing new."
"It's been two weeks," he sighed. "My son's death just doesn't