Child Sacrifice Emerges as Disturbing Uganda Trend

Photo: Child Sacrifice Emerges as Disturbing Uganda Trend: Witch Doctors, Films Propagate Belief That Burial of Body Parts Brings Riches

Uganda is a country so beautiful that Winston Churchill once called it "the pearl of Africa." It has world-class wildlife, fertile rolling hills and a breathtaking lakeshore.

Here, the ancient and the modern meet. The poor scrape a living from the soil, and many still cling to the mystical beliefs of their ancestors. They speak with the spirits, they cure with potions.

In the cities, commerce and capitalism now reign. There's fast money to be made, and a new middle-class lifestyle to be had. Uganda is thriving.

But from this clash of cultures, a gruesome new phenomenon has emerged -- and Uganda's children are paying the price. Children are disappearing, victims of human sacrifice.

Asima Baguma knows the horror. Her 17-month-old son, Nicholas, was murdered, a victim of child sacrifice. She found his body in a banana plantation on a remote farm in her village, near the border of the Congo.

"I pulled my son's body out of the soil," said Baguma. "I realized he had no head."

Detective Chris Yashaba, from the Uganda Criminal Investigations Department, was stunned at the brutality of the case.

"I have never seen something like this," he told ABC News. But perhaps the most shocking aspect of the case was the revelation that the child's killer was his own father. And the motive? Money.

The father, Andrew Baguma, apparently received $2,000 from a rich businessman in the area for his son's head.

In an interview with ABC News from a Ugandan prison, Andrew Baguma admitted that he had had his child killed. He says he wanted the money to set up a busines, fixing bicycles. So, he says, he and a friend beheaded Nicholas, dug a shallow grave and buried his headless body.

Andrew said that he still loves his wife and hopes that she will forgive him one day.

For her part, Asima Baguma believes her husband should die for his crime. She said she will never forgive him for killing her only child. At 20 years old, she feels as if her life is over.

"Now that he is gone, I will never be happy again," she said.

'People Who Have Gone Crazy'

Andrew killed his child for money from a businessman who believed that the head of the child would bring him more wealth. The businessman is also in jail, accused of being an accessory to the crime. From behind bars, he denies everything.

This belief, that burying a child's body parts will make you rich, is, police say, being promoted by some traditional healers, known locally as witch doctors (English is one of Uganda's official languages). But Paul Bukuluki, a sociology professor at Makerere University in Kampala Uganda, says there's actually nothing traditional about the gruesome practice at all.

"I don't want to say it is for everybody," says Bukuluki, who has been studying the problem. "But there is a certain category of people who have gone crazy when it comes to money."

Ugandan law enforcement officials say parents have sold their children to the witch doctors for slaughter. If they can't find a child to buy, they snatch one.

That's what happened to a 3-year-old we'll call Geoffrey to protect his identity. Geoffrey went missing three months ago while playing with his five brothers and sisters. His mother and father and other village members searched for the boy. Geoffrey's father, Godfrey, found him. He says what he saw will haunt him for the rest of his life.

"I saw him lying in a pool of blood," says Godfrey. "I thought he was dead."

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