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13 alleged penis pilferers caught by Congo cops

    BEIJING, April 24 (Xinhuanet) — In an effort to avoid possible bloodshed, Congo police have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to shrink or steal men’s penises.

    The arrests came after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings prompted by the alleged witchcraft. A decade ago in Ghana, 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs.

    “You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We’ve had a number of attempted lynchings. … You see them covered in marks after being beaten,” Kinshasa’s police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

    Stories of so-called penis pilfering are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

    Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo’s sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants.

They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

    Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

    “I’m tempted to say it’s one huge joke,” Oleko said. “But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it’s become tiny or that they’ve become impotent. To that I tell them, ‘How do you know if you haven’t gone home and tried it?'”


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