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Saturday, November 10, 2012

The murder of an 11-year old boy in our community

This may be the most difficult blog I have yet written and even more difficult for you to read. I was conflicted as to whether I should write this in a public post, but after prayerful consideration and confirmation by a dear friend, I have decided to share a very dark, evil story of what happened in our community quite recently. 

First let me start by saying there is evil everywhere. We live in a broken sinful world and Satan is here on the earth to kill and destroy whether it is literally murder, through divorce, broken relationships, incest or all the other things that cause hurt and pain.

Now for a dark side of my beloved Swaziland.

Two weeks ago we got a call from one of our partner churches.  The Pastor was distraught because an 11-year old boy in our feeding program had been sold and then murdered for ritualistic purposes.  I will call the boy Musa for this blog.

Musa was an outcast.  He was born out of wedlock, his mother ran away and left him with the man who she claimed was the father, but the man denied his paternity and left the boy with an old Grandmother.  The Grandmother loved Musa and he was quickly her favorite grandchild because he was so sweet.  He was able to complete fourth grade, but then there was no more money for school fees so he stayed at home and helped care for the animals.

Two weeks ago another teenage boy came along and was helping care for the goats.  The family didn’t know that he came with evil intentions and allowed the teen to sleep in the same small room as the young boy.  Early one morning Musa got up and left with the teenager to take the goats to the bush to graze, but he did not return that night.  The teenager arrived home soaking wet, but said that he had fallen in the river.  The family feared that Musa had also fallen in the river and drowned, but what happened to him was far worse. Musa had been stabbed to death by the teenage boy, and his private parts had been cut off to be used by a local Medicine Man. The other young children in the family were the ones to find his body.

Traditional medicine men (witch doctors as we might call them) have been a part of Swazi culture since the beginning of time. In fact, “traditional medicine” is still practiced in most African nations and is the biggest barrier to Christianity.  Sometimes/often witchcraft and Christianity are mixed together, but that is a blog for another day.

Some people seeking to increase their power and influence visit a local witchdoctor and pay him money for “muti”.  Muti can be made from natural products (trees, roots, plants), but for very strong and powerful muti the witchdoctor may require special ingredients such human body parts, often the private ones.  We are told that Albino children are at high risk because they are considered to provide the highest potency in muti.  Most ingredients are then mixed with river water and then consumed by the purchaser.

We are told by our Swazi friends that as we head towards an election next year, that some people running for public office may start going to their local witchdoctor now (and continue until the elections) so the incidence of murder for body parts will intensify.  This particular case was in the newspaper and radio in Swaziland and our team has become much more safety conscious.  We will increase security around the baby home because young children are at highest risk.

In this particular case the teenage boy would have been hired to go and get the private parts of a young boy.  That would be his assignment and that is what he did.  When the family discovered Musa’s mutilated body they immediately went to find the teenager.  He had run away, but was quickly found by police and the knife and body parts were still in his bag. He is in jail now.

Let me simplify this.  People are going to witchdoctors and paying money for muti to make themselves more powerful, to get ahead in life, to gain wealth and influence.  It is easy to quickly judge this from afar, but what do we do in other parts of the world to get ahead?  Steroids?  Corruption? Sleeping with the boss?  Bribery?  Gossip?  Cheating on income tax?  I believe that sin is sin and God sees it all the same way.  That is hard to read isn’t it? I don’t want my sin to be compared to that of the teenage boy who just murdered and mutilated an 11-year old for his body parts.  But does God see them the same way?  I believe that scripture says He does.

I will end my blog now and leave you to ponder this.  I do ask that you pray for the children of Swaziland and the babies at El Roi, that His mighty hand of protection would be over them and that this generation of young people will be a shining light for all to see.

Live from Swaziland … I am pondering.



  1. Dear Janine
    I can only imagine how hard it was to share this story, and how difficult to overcome the loss of this precious young boy.
    After reading this I immediately was reminded of David's prayer to God in psalm 51 after his sin had been revealed. Adultery and murder! He became a broken man calling on his God for forgiveness. He needed a clean heart and joy restored, and feared losing the presence of of God and His Holy Spirit in his life.
    I pray to God that each one of us will prayerfully examine our hearts and seek God's forgiveness and cling to His presence in our lives.
    I pray for His comfort and mercies to be ever present in those that have been hurt by this evil.

    In His love......Kathleen

    1. Thank you Kathleen. I appreciate your encouragement and prayers. I hope all is well in GA. Janine

  2. Dear Janine,
    You don't know me, but I know you very well through your words over the last several months. I haven't commented before because words always fail me when I wonder how to encourage someone that God has used so much in my own life. Suffice it to say that right now, you are one that the Scriptures tell us is privileged to share in the sufferings of Jesus Christ. How His heart weeps for the foolish children of this world, and yet He is patient with us. "The longsuffering of our God is salvation" (2 Peter 3:15).
    I am so grateful that He forgives sins, from the small ones that I pretend hurt no one, to the ones like this that make the world stop and mourn. I will be praying for you and your community, but especially for this teenage boy who has become a murderer for the pleasure of others. May God have mercy on his broken, needy soul.

    Thank you for your faithfulness,
    Sarah Wilson

    1. Thank you so much for speaking in to this Sarah. I really struggled yesterday when I truly realized that my sin is the same, but gave thanks that I can repent and be forgiven. Whew! Thanks for introducing yourself too. How did you come upon this blog?

    2. Janine,
      My husband and I were researching stories of families that had moved overseas to do full time ministry, and came across an article you had written for Womenetics called "We are moving to Africa. Why should you care?" I believe that this, as with everything in life, was no coincidence :). We are greatly challenged and blessed by your words, and we keep you all in our prayers. What an incredible reminder to us first world Christians to not waste the days God has given us.


  3. That is really cool. Womenetics have been so supportive of what we are doing. I do daily posts on Facebook of what is happening here in Swaziland. If you are a Facebooker, please feel free to "friend" me. Janine Willis Maxwell.

    1. Janine, I'll be sure to find you on Facebook. Keep fighting the good fight,

      Sarah Wilson

  4. Janine - I will be in Swaziland on Sunday. I am very much looking forward to meeting you and everyone at Project Canaan and helping with those precious babies.


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