Mistaken for vampires and accused of witchcraft, BBC crew ‘nearly stoned to death’ in Malawi

A BBC film crew investigating a string of child killings in the southern African state of Malawi narrowly escaped death, after an undercover meeting with a witch-doctor was interrupted by a mob accusing them of being “vampires”.

The documentary team from BBC Africa were working alongside undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who never shows his face, to investigate a string of murders which have been attributed to black-magic “muti” witch-doctors.

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Malawi UN soldiers © Junior D. Kannah

Victims have been found without heads and missing body parts. Witch-doctors are suspected of snatching children and young people and using their body parts as get-rich amulets for wealthy clients.

Posing as a wealthy businessman looking to increase his wealth, Anas tracked down a self-confessed killer named Kamanga, who told the team, in secret footage published on Monday, that the most useful parts for good luck were the head and genitals. Along with an associate, Kamanga told the BBC team that he could create good luck for the ‘businessman’ by killing and sucking out the blood of children.

A further meeting with the killers at night, saw them describe how they could also break the skull and remove either the brain or tongue.

But the meeting was interrupted by the sounds of an approaching mob of villagers nearby.

They were armed with machetes, knives and stones and accused the BBC team of being “vampires” and “killers.” Showing the villagers their press accreditation failed to quell the mob, with one cutting the back of Anas’ suit with a knife. The journalists started running and were pursued by the mob, who threw stones at them.

READ MORE: Mobs kill 2 more as ‘vampire hysteria’ spreads in Malawi

“They were going to end our lives,” Anas said, as he recalled their flight from the angry villagers. The team managed to escape by running for their lives into the night, later to be saved by community police and a local chief.

They suffering injuries from stones being thrown by the mob and one of the cars the team was travelling in was also destroyed. Kamanga and his associate also managed to escape in the confusion.

The incident brought an end to the BBC team’s investigation and according to them many of the murders remain unsolved.

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