Malawi’s Human Harvest – Full documentary – BBC Africa Eye


My name is Anas Aremeyaw Anas. I am a Ghanaian undercover reporter. I never show my face. I’ve come to northern Malawi to investigate killings linked to the supernatural which have terrified locals. We’ll meet people who say they are dead men walking… It’s a tale of immorality and human greed
where murderous violence… has bred a lethal vigilante response, which
nearly cost me and my team our lives. This is what happens when an
investigation goes terrifyingly wrong… and my cover is blown sky high by Malawi’s Human Harvest. I am on assignment in northern Malawi. With
me in the vehicle is a local journalist Henry Mhango. He’s been covering a wave of unsolved killings
where body parts are removed from dead victims for what’s widely believed to be
witchcraft rituals. We’ve teamed up to investigate. Henry’s arranged for me to meet a police
detective at a river where the mutilated body of a young man was found. When we found him, by that time there was no head. So what would a person use a head for? If we can say from sources, they just say they take the head and it’s used for traditional medicine. All of them, they say that. Henry’s been collecting evidence. Evidence which some viewers may find upsetting. This is the headless body
that was found on the riverbank. It’s a very sad sight. At least 33 killings have been linked to
traditional medicine over the past two years in northern Malawi but even the police don’t know exactly how many. These things that they use to do, some call it Muthi, some call it Vizimba. Does it work? As an officer, as a police officer, I can’t confirm. I don’t know.
But as a human being, I believe. Fear of Muthi killings has fuelled
lethal civil unrest across Malawi. Last year the army was deployed when tales of
so-called bloodsuckers led to riots and deaths. Two years ago, the authorities in Malawi
banned all witch doctors. But traditional medicine is still widespread
here and practitioners like Daniel Myaluka still practice quite openly. This is a collection of gruesome charms, confiscated from witch doctors who use human body-part Muthi. Daniel believes body-part Muthi does work and is extremely powerful but he is also clear it is evil. We are back on the road and looking for
the headless river murder victim’s family. But it’s proving difficult. We find them after a long search in a tiny
hamlet called Yakobe. Innocent Moyo was a young man in his twenties
who left his family to work in Karonga three years ago. Then he went missing after a night out in a bar. His grieving parents spoke to
me about the loss of their son. What sort of people would involve themselves
in the gruesome murders of Malawi’s blameless youth? That’s a question that troubles
local journalist Tobias Mwaulambo. Tobias says it’s too dangerous for him to investigate those he believes are carrying out Muthi killings. But being a Ghanaian journalist, I can investigate. I’m posing as a businessman with a secret
taste for Muthi magic. And now it’s time to go undercover. Tobias was too fearful to pass on any names but after some digging around on the ground by
Henry before I arrived in Malawi, the same name kept coming up, Matthius Kamanga. He’s a notorious local witchdoctor who sourcestold us is involved in body-part Muthi. Henry met him first to explain who
I am and what I was looking for. And he was keen to do business. He said wanted to meet me face to face. It’s time for me to meet the witch doctor
Kamanga for myself. We are being very careful. If Kamanga is involved in killing we have
to be certain he will not kill on our behalf. So we’re going to tell him we’ll supply
our own body parts for the Muthi. We won’t pay him. We just need him to take
the bait and reveal the deteails of his wicked business. Kamanga claims he partnered up with another
man five years ago to target and kill victims. I am shocked by what I’m hearing and I wanted
to know how far Kamanga would go to back it up. Kamanga also says he sucks blood from live
victims using medical equipment. My team and I are investigating things at
the very edge of our understanding. We are moving into dangerous territory. I am going to meet the Sichali family. They live in terror and grief because four males of their family have been murdered over the past ten years. It’s widely believed among the community
they were killed for Muthi. We hear the young children who have been left behind as a result of these
murders are being ostracised? It’s time for me to meet witch doctor Kamanga again. We’re heading deeper into the bush,
toward his sacred shrine the place where he says he brings body-parts
and blood and turns them into Muthi. Kamanga performs a strange witchcraft ritual. Then Henry points out what appear to be small
pieces of bone on the shrine floor. This looks real. Later that evening Henry set up another meeting
with Kamanga in a remote location. This time Kamanga brings with him the man he claims is his fellow killer. A man called Njuku Mpata. Ahead of us the vehicle containing
Kamanga and Mpata. Suddenly a very bad feeling comes over me. And all the way up to the meeting spot they’ve
chosen, my sense of dread grows. When we stop, Kamanga and Mpata are back to
the details of their sordid business. We’ve already told them we’ll supply our own body
parts but for the equivalent of around $8000, they offer us two Muthi murders and the
bloodsucking of a young child. And when they finish, would the child die? How many times has he been able to do
successful Muthi operations? Suddenly, Mpata stopped the meeting. We heard some villagers making noise so we decided to quit the conversation and leave the scene. OK then let’s leave here. – OK then. There was a small good-humoured crowd
gathered at our vehicles. Tell them they shouldn’t be scared, they should feel free. But as Kamanga and Mpata melt into the
darkness, the mood turned ugly – really ugly. Really ugly. They started shoving us, pushing us… These are the IDs. Yes, BBC IDs. Where are your IDs? The crowd was becoming huge now. These are community police. Volunteer community policemen based in the village realised we really were journalists working for the BBC. They did their best to protect us, but the situation was quickly getting out of control. They started attacking them too. They used their bodies as human shields. Some of them got injured in the process. They said they were going to come. But they were not coming. Their attacks were intensifying. Please can you help us, they are kicking us, somebody is kicking us… They had pangas, they had knives, they had
clubs, they had stones… Leave me alone! What’s the matter with you? The community police said we must go to the
village chief to explain ourselves. They told us to keep walking to stay alive. This guy is protecting us. The attacks intensified. They hit my head with a huge stone.
I fell. But I had to keep up. Take his hand, take his hand! I stood and we pushed forward. There was a
valley ahead of us. I could feel someone drive a knife… Cut through my suit. When we got into the valley they
were going to end our lives. They are going to kill us… And there was nothing that could stop them.
Nothing. We knew that that was the moment we
were going to die. I held the hand of my producer. I’m here, I’m here with you… – Anas? I’m here, I’m here. Let me hold you, let me hold you. Oh please, please… We had to just run. Hold each
other’s arms and run. Oh my God. Oh my God… Kept on running. We were surprised we made
it alive. It was just the hand of God that took us out of this. We saw a hut that was the house of the chief. Chief.
– The chief. – Thank you. We were trapped in the chief’s house
surrounded by the still angry crowd. Henry managed to call the local MP who got
the police to finally come to our aid. We had escaped with our lives but the mental
scars of that night will remain with us forever. Still reeling from the events of the night before, Henry calls Kamanga demanding answers. My team and I have decided we can’ t leave here until
we find out why the villagers attacked us. It’s a strange feeling to see all these
faces and to know that just days before, so many of these people were bent on killing us. But now my cover is blown sky high. We were all over national TV news and any hope we could expose others involved in the Muthi business was over. Over the weekend some journalists were attacked
the irate community in Mwasota-Malema village. They were two Ghanaian journalists, one BBC journalist and a Malawian working for Capital Radio, Henry Mhango. I’m heading to the capital Lilongwe, to Parliament. To meet Frank Mwenifumbo, the MP for Karonga. The man whose phone calls to the police helped to save our lives. I wasn’t surprised to see how the villagers reacted. In the area they come from that there have been allegations of people killing people for their body-parts. But, according to Frank, what happened to us did shine a light into the darkest corners of Malawian society. This has been around for a long, long time
and I can tell you more than the past ten years, It’s only now that somebody has woken up to, to talk about it, to bring about awareness. Witch doctor Kamanga and his associate Njuku Mpata claimed that between them they killed 12 people. We have no way of knowing if their claims are true. They gave us the names of six victims. Henry
later investigated and discovered of the six, three were alive, one was confirmed
dead and two were missing. We wrote to Kamanga and Mpata asking for a response to the allegations in this programme but received no reply. Our investigation is over but the chilling conclusion of Henry’s phone call with Kamanga makes it clear: their gruesome services are still for sale.

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