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SA cops on the trail of zombies and witches

File photo

File photo

Published Oct 15, 2014


Cape Town - Some call them the Ghost Busters. Other call them the X-Files. They’ve even been dubbed the Vampire Cops.

But for the Harmful Occult Related Crimes unit, their cases are every bit as real - and the victims every bit as violated - as any other.

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Colonel Dr Attie Lamprecht’s job is to see beyond the tokoloshes, zombies, curses, muti and witchcraft to gather evidence that will stand up in court.

It’s also his job to know about new trends such as “more and more young people drinking each other’s blood”.


As Lamprecht addressed the Crime Stoppers International convention on Tuesday, an unsettling image appeared on the big screen. Globulent, yellow, shiny, and crooked. It was a candle made out of human fat.

This is one of many creepy objects he has found at occult crime scenes around South Africa. Some involve considerably more harm to the living, such as a cat nailed to a church door, or a cult that tattooed “F*** Jesus Christ” to the soles of their feet.

“Satanism is not a crime,” he emphasised. It’s only if religious or spiritual beliefs result in a legally defined crime that his officers will make an arrest.

But every supernatural report has to be taken seriously.

“In certain parts of South Africa, if a person is identified as a witch… they will be killed, and sometimes their family too. In the northern parts of the country women seek shelter in police stations because they have been pointed out as a witch.”

Particularly gory are muti-related offences - organs harvested out of people. “They believe the victim must be alive when the organs are harvested, and they will try to find the youngest most innocent victim possible. The pain and hormones released is what gives the muti its power.”

Lamprecht also deals with unethical and harmful initiation practices, and fraudulent “doctors” such as those who advertise penis enlargements and bringing back lost lovers.

Cape Argus

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Crime and Courts