7 killed in Ghana over 'penis-snatching' episodes
January 18, 1997
Web posted at: 3:00 p.m. EST (2000 GMT)
ACCRA, Ghana (CNN) -- Seven sorcerers who were accused of
grabbing penises were beaten to death by angry mobs in the
Ghana capital of Accra, police said. The capital is so
chaotic the army may have to be called in to restore order.
According to police, two men were lynched Thursday and by
Friday the death toll had risen to seven. Victims allege that
the sorcerers touched them to make their genitals shrink or,
in some cases, disappear to extort cash for the promise of a
cure. Inspector General of Police Peter Nanfuri told state
television he was prepared to call in the army.
So-called penis snatching reports are not uncommon in West
Africa, where purported victims often blame penis shrinkage
on handshakes with sorcerers. Residents recall a similar
scare in Accra in the early 1980s.
Police and government officials dismiss the stories as the
work of thieves, who police say spread rumors to create a
crowd and then pick people's pockets.
Medical experts have appeared on state television explaining
in detail why penises increase and decrease in size. One
doctor linked the phenomenon to fear.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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