The villages and farming communities that surround Uganda’s capital, Kampala, are gripped by fear.
Some children are cut to collect blood for rituals
Schoolchildren are closely watched by teachers and parents as they make their way home from school. In playgrounds and on the roadside are posters warning of the danger of abduction by witch doctors for the purpose of child sacrifice.
The ritual, which some believe brings wealth and good health, was almost unheard of in the country until about three years ago, but it has re-emerged, seemingly alongside a boom in the country’s economy.
The mutilated bodies of children have been discovered at roadsides, the victims of an apparently growing belief in the power of human sacrifice.
Many believe that members of the country’s new elite are paying witch doctors vast sums of money for the sacrifices in a bid to increase their wealth.
At the Kyampisi Childcare Ministries church, Pastor Peter Sewakiryanga is teaching local children a song called Heal Our Land, End Child Sacrifice.
To hear dozens of young voices singing such shocking words epitomises how ritual murder has become part of everyday life here.
“Child sacrifice has risen because people have become lovers of money. They want to get richer,” the pastor says.
“They have a belief that when you sacrifice a child you get wealth, and there are people who are willing to buy these children for a price. So they have become a commodity of exchange, child sacrifice has become a commercial business.”
The pastor and his parishioners are lobbying the government to regulate witch doctors and improve police resources to investigate these crimes.
According to official police figures, there was one case of child sacrifice in 2006; in 2008 the police say they investigated 25 alleged ritual murders, and in 2009, another 29.
The Anti-Human Sacrifice Police Task Force, launched in response to the growing numbers, says the ritual murder rate has slowed, citing a figure of 38 cases since 2006.
Pastor Sewakiryanga disputes the police numbers, and says there are more victims from his parish than official statistics for the entire country.
The work of the police task force has been strongly criticised by the UK-based charity, Jubilee Campaign.
It says in a report that the true number of cases is in the hundreds, and claims more than 900 cases have yet to be investigated by the police because of corruption and a lack of resources.
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SOURCE: BBC News