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Johannesburg - Occult-related crimes are on the increase across Gauteng, and now police are warning parents to be on the lookout for the telltale signs that their children are dabbling in the dark arts.
The provincial Harmful Religious Practices (Occult Crimes) Unit of the SAPS said it had 78 occult-related enquiries in the past three months, 48 of which were connected to a crime.
Investigator Lieutenant-Colonel Hennie de Jager said his unit had seen an increase of occult-related crimes in Gauteng, particularly among black youth.
“Occult-related crimes are increasing, especially in black areas where boys and girls are promised fame and riches.”
He said his unit had recently received calls from parents who had told investigators their children were drinking blood.
“It’s all over Gauteng. It pops up, goes down and then appears again,” De Jager said.
He was addressing journalists at an SAPS news briefing on Wednesday.
The unit is involved in the investigation into the murder of two Dobsonville girls, Thandeka Moganetsi, 14, and Chwayita Rathazayo, 15, who were killed in a suspected satanic ritual.
The teenagers were discovered in a field in Dobsonville, Soweto, dressed in their school uniforms, with cuts to their hands and necks. Black candles were found at the scene.
The national head of the Harmful Religious Practices Unit, Colonel Attie Lambrecht, said he believed that the increase in occult-related crimes had to do with urbanisation, and greater access to smartphones and computers. He said Hollywood had its influence, too.
Lambrecht said people were turning to witchcraft in the hope of finding quick wealth.
He said there was a case in which a 3-year-old girl in Limpopo was murdered so that her father would have success in his new business. Body parts were taken while she was alive, which was common practice.
Another recent case that the unit investigated took place in December. The body of a man was found in an open field in Florida, Roodepoort. Body parts were missing. An investigation led to the arrest of five people who were involved in an initiation school and were kidnapping children in Orange Farm. The missing body parts were later found in a bucket on a hill in Florida.
Besides Satanism, the unit investigates other crimes motivated by ritual, spiritualism and even initiations.
Gauteng deputy provincial commissioner Major-General Tebello Mosikili said they believed there were people dealing in body parts in South Africa.
De Jager said the Harmful Religious Practices Unit ran awareness workshops at schools and churches.
He said there was “no shopping list” when it came to identifying a child who had become involved in the occult.
The unit identifies someone who is experimenting in the occult as “a dabbler”. The profile of a dabbler was someone who had difficulty in relating to their peers, was withdrawn from their family and had often experienced physical and sexual abuse. They were also often involved in criminal activity and took drugs.