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Village creates child abduction alert system

Published:Monday | June 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM


When a child goes missing in this central Ugandan district, villagers beat drums into a pulsing rhythm that sends rescuers scampering through bushes. Others, riding motorcycles, try to block exit routes.

In response to the kidnappings and ritual killings of children here, the traumatised community has created a rudimentary but effective abduction alert system that has saved at least two children so far this year.

Although the problem of children being killed as human sacrifices is reported in several parts of Uganda, Buikwe has gained notoriety recently as the country's witchcraft capital. One in three households here keeps a shrine, a thatched hut in which so-called witchdoctors can be consulted, a frightening statistic that explains the prevalence of superstitious practices that threaten the lives of many children and even adults.

ritualistic potions

Some traditional healers use body parts to make potions for success in business and love, or to cure people of ailments.

The widespread fear of murder is why civic groups believe this fishing community on the shores of Lake Victoria can be mobilised for change. Eight children have been abducted and ritualistically killed in Buikwe this year, their mutilated bodies dumped in bushes and sugar cane plantations, according to local officials.

Across Uganda at least 729 children were abducted in 2013, according to a Ugandan police report that also cited a 39 per cent increase in crimes against children over the previous year.