Tanzania orders crackdown on witchcraft-related crime

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania - Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete in his New Year address ordered a crackdown on what he said was a growing number of murders and rapes linked to witchcraft beliefs.

"As much as many cases of rape are associated with moral decay, there is evidence that some traders nurse stupid beliefs that having sexual intercourse with infants can bring them fortune," he said late Monday.

"There are also those who believe that possession of some organs of infants and albinos can turn them rich," he added, ordering the police to come down hard out on such practices.

According to Kikwete, rape cases doubled to around 8,000 in 2007 from 3,946 nationwide the previous year, while the number of murders reported in the east African nation also rose from 2,309 to 3,144 over the same period.

Tanzania's Albino society recently complained that albinos were being targeted by some witch-doctors, following a string of murders.

In 2007, police reported several cases of people exhuming the freshly-buried bodies of infants to remove organs, in many cases the genitals, to make potions used in witchcraft rituals.