Back in February we reported on an attack on a group BBC journalists who were filming a documentary in Malawi. The reporters and their team were in a remote village at dusk when they were attacked by locals. At the time it was believed the group were attacked because the locals thought they were vampires.
The Independent recently ran a piece that offered more insight in to the incident. The team and undercover reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas were investigating a series of killings associated with black magic. They had tracked down a man who had offered to sell them body parts and were meeting with him to discuss how it worked, when a mob surrounded them.
As the journalists were kicked and pelted with stones, one felt a knife cut through his suit.
“We knew that that was the moment we were going to die,” said Mr Anas.
“I held the hand of my producer. They were going to end our lives.”
The journalists were forced to run for their lives into the night as the mob continued to shout: “You are the murderers!” (Source)
As reported back in February, the group were rescued by a local politician and law enforcement. After the attack, they were forced to abandon their investigation.
There have been multiple cases of outsiders being attacked and killed in rural areas in Malawi due to a fear that they are vampires. Last October, the United Nations and the US Peace Corps withdrew staff from several districts. In July this year, the US Embassy in Lilongwe put temporary travel restrictions on embassy staff regarding any travel to Mulanje, in southern Malawi, due to the repeated vampire rumours. A week later, UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office also issued an advisory, warning travellers to exercise ‘extreme caution’ and avoid large crowds.
While black magic and vampires may seem more suited to teen novels than travel warnings, these rumours have led to multiple deaths. If you or your team are considering travel to areas where these rumours persist, make sure your travel risk management plan addresses the threat. Please read all the relevant advisories and make sure you have appropriate travel insurance and a robust response in place.
- The Independent: BBC journalists nearly stoned to death by crowd who thought they were witch-doctor child killers
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