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Congo lynch mobs attack penis-snatching sorcerers

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Police in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this week cuffed for their own protection 13 "suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises", Reuters reports.

The arrests come after a "wave of panic" swept the capital Kinshasa last week, provoked by rumours that the unwary might be relieved of their todgers, and fuelled by radio reports advising listeners to "beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings".

The cops also detained 14 "victims" of the spam-javelin lifters, who claimed that sorcerers "simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear" - apparently in an attempt "to extort cash with the promise of a cure", according to some locals.

The mass round-up was an attempt by the authorities to prevent further attempted lynchings of alleged sorcerers. Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters: "You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings. You see them covered in marks after being beaten."

He added: "I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke. But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it?'"

The threat of being left without a manhood is not taken lightly in West Africa, and a decade ago 12 "suspected penis snatchers" were beaten to death by angry mobs in Ghana. Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station, confirmed to Reuters: "It's real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny." ®

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