By DAVID KANDUZA –
AN anthropologist on the Copperbelt has observed that the recent spate of gruesome murders which are taking place in Lusaka are as a result of worldwide demand of organs for transplant.
Scholars have defined anthropologists as persons with extensive knowledge of anthropology who use knowledge in their work, typically to solve problems specific to humanity.
The anthropologist who declined to be named refuted claims that what the country was witnessing were ritual murders, saying body organs which were harvested for the illegal organ trade were on demand worldwide.
“The extent is unknown and non-fatal organ theft and removal is more widely reported than murder,” the anthropologist said.
She told the Sunday Times that people who carried out these killings were not illiterates but people who had studied medicine.
“The belief that these are ritual killings shouldn’t arise. These people who carry out these killings are not necessarily traditional illiterates but people who are knowledgeable in medicine,” she said.
The anthropologist said these killers in some instances had used surgical instruments that can be divided into six classes by function that include cutting, grasping, retractors, clamps and distractors.
“Where are they getting all these instruments from?” she asked.
She appealed to relevant authorities to investigate the matter seriously rather than concluding that these were acts of ritual killings.
The horrifying discoveries of murdered people recently sparked off violent protests in Lusaka which led to the burning and looting of properties belonging to suspected killers and ritualists.
Recently the Sunday Times uncovered a syndicate in which some medical personnel in Zambia were allegedly selling body organs to some South African hospitals for personal gain.
But ministry of Health spokesperson Reuben Mbewe dispelled the allegations.
According to sources, the clandestine activities were said to have arisen following the increasing international demand for kidney replacements driven by the escalating cases of diabetes and other diseases.
Sources described the stealing of body parts for sale to biomedical supply companies as a huge enterprise.
The sources further revealed that some body parts went missing when a post-mortem was being conducted to establish the cause of death of a person.
They said although the law required relatives, a lawyer, representatives of the hospital, and the police to be present during a post-mortem, body parts still went missing despite labelling them.
Sources, however, did not have details of how the body parts were smuggled out of the country.
But police said they had not received any reports on the matter and appealed to the public to report such activities.
The body organ trade is illegal in Zambia.
Police spokesperson Charity Chanda said the police would launch investigations into the matter.
“We have not received such reports over the sale of human body parts, but we appeal to the public to report such activities,” Ms Chanda said.
The illegal trade in kidneys had increased to such a level that an estimated 10,000 black market operations involving purchased human organs now take place annually, according to World Health Organisation experts.
In Zambia, thousands of patients die each year because of inadequate supply of organs as patients in need of kidney transplants wait for years in the hope of getting donors.