In 2017, five men became the victims of ritualistic murder in Mozambique—targeted specifically due their bald heads. In all five cases, the victims were found with their organs removed and at least one man’s head had been cut off.
According to NPR, the first two killings took place in May in the Milange district close to the border with Malawi, while three more occurred in June of that same year in the district of Morrumbala.
Afonso Dias, a police commander in Mozambique’s central Zambezia province, told the BBC that the ritualistic killings most likely transpired due to a belief “that the head of a bald man contains gold.”
Commander Dias, while considering the culprits’ reasoning, further explained during a press conference in Maputo that “their motive comes from superstition and culture—the local community thinks bald individuals are rich.”
The statements taken from the two suspects arrested for the murders—both approximately 20-years-old—describe how the organs taken from the victims were used by healers in rituals to promote the fortunes of clients in Tanzania and Malawi, as reported by The Guardian.
Superstition such as this has also led to the mass killings of albino citizens in Mozambique. In a 2017 New York Times investigation, it was found that in the Southern African nation, a person with albinism can be worth between $4,000 and $75,000. This ‘bounty’ often leads to albino individuals being kidnapped or killed—often by family members.
The investigation further noted how the governments in Malawi and Mozambique are aware of this tragic problem and public information campaigns have begun in order to quash the superstition that albino body parts bring good luck. The police, too, have become more attentive to the issue. However, far more work needs to be done to protect individuals from these terrifying fates.
The police in Mozambique have explicitly warned all bald men to avoid the country at all costs.