n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Challenges in investigating and preventing "muti"–related offences in South Africa

Volume 26 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



This article highlights the challenges facing law enforcement officers when investigating 'muti'-related offences and makes recommendations with respect to overcoming those challenges. These offences are those stemming from the removal of human organs and tissue for the purpose of traditional medicine; including murder, assault as well as the mutilation of corpses. This article examines how these offences are perpetrated and considers the role of the buyer, the traditional healer, as well as the offender or offenders. The purpose of the muti and how the human tissue is utilised are also discussed. The article examines the role of the police in investigating these offences and considers the challenges they face. These include the fact that muti-related offences are not regarded as a specific crime in South Africa; the role of tradition in the commission of these offences; and how the beliefs of police officials influence the investigation of these crimes. The difficulties in detecting a muti crime and the challenges faced in identifying all the role-players - and not just the offender - are discussed. Problems associated with grave robbery and mortuary theft for the purposes of obtaining human tissue are also addressed. The study sets out to review, analyse and interpret the existing literature on muti crimes specifically in terms of the peculiar challenges presented by these crimes with respect to effective investigation and prevention. The article seeks to provide a profile of muti-related crimes and to identify some of the specific challenges faced by law enforcement in terms of investigating and preventing these crimes, in order to make recommendations on how some of these challenges may be overcome.

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