Nsanje ‘hyenas’ flee into caves as Malawi police look for 9 over sex crime

– A Malawian ‘hyena’ who sexually initiates 12-year-old girls was arrested on Tuesday, July 26

– Eric Aniva practised a tradition that allowed him to sexually initiate young girls into womanhood

– Malawi’s President Mutharika ordered for his immediate arrest after a BBC documentary exposed him

Malawi Police in Nsanje say they are looking for nine men known as ‘hyenas’ who have been defiling young children in an outdated cultural cleansing initiation.

Nsanje police station officer Cuthbert Kaonga said the sex predators have since gone into hiding but was upbeat they would be netted.

“Our officers are everywhere and am sure they will be arrested today,” he said.

The hunt for the nine hyenas comes following the arrest of Eric Niva who was paid to have sex with young girls.

He confessed to BBC to having slept with 104 girls since 1980s.

Kaonga said Niva was arrested in an operation which involved Chief Malemia, the district commissioner and the district HIV and AIDS coordinator.

“Aniva told us that he stopped the practise long ago yet he has told the BBC that he continues practising it so we will find out the truth,” he said.

Chief Malemia said he had ordered a stop to the malpractice long ago and was surprised that some people were practising it underground.

Women activist Emma Kaliya said the police should as well arrest the parents and villagers who facilitated and promoted the defilement of the girls as young as 12.

Civil rights activist Rafiq Hajat said the police and prosecuting state agencies should be more proactive than reactive, saying they would have arrested Aniva four years ago when the local media first broke the news story.

“They should not always wait for the President to make orders after watching or listening to foreign media,” he said.

The issue has polarised and divided Malawians in social media as some say there are many rich men out there who are luring very young girls into sex for money; others are questioning why Mutharika is pouncing on those who are fulfilling cultural obligations whilst shielding cabinet ministers who plundered the billions of Kwacha through the infamous cashgate.

Aniva with a root which he grinds up and adds to water to drink before sex

Aniva with a root which he grinds up and adds to water to drink before sex

Director of communication at State House Bright Molande told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme that indeed the arrest has comes after orders from resident Mutharika.

He said Aniva would be prosecuted for violating children’s rights.

Malawi, which has one of the highest HIV infections in the world, criminalises sex with a person under the age of 16.

If found guilty of underage sex, Aniva could be imprisoned for life

Molande also said President Mutharika was disturbed by the revelations made in the story and has vowed to crackdown on the cultural practice.

The arrest of Niva however has generally been welcomed by many Malawians who see it as the start of a long and prolonged battle against harmful cultural practices.

The sex cleansing practice is a traditional custom endorsed and funded by some communities in southern Malawi but the government has been trying to stop it.

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Honeycomb Chidyaudzu
Who in Malawi does not know that this curtural practice exit. Moreover I heard this man on one of our local tv stations sometime back. Why did the president not acted then. Because it has appeared in foreign press then it becomes news worthy. Chiefs are the custodians of our culture and they are the one to be arrested. Arrest Chief Malemia first and all the chiefs in the lower shire. Illiterate parents are the ones who allow their girls to be abused in this manner otherwise this Fisi who doing a service to the community of which he was… Read more »

ku Nsanje si kokwatila because it means kulibe mkazi wachilungamo onse anakweledwapo.

Charlie Hebdo
I have been following this story with keen interest. It reminded me of another hot topic on LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender). Most of us have been quick to dismiss the practice as alien, a bad influence on our culture. We had assumed our culture is perfect and we would not allow gays and lesbians to dent it. The clergy are quick to condemn gays but so far I am yet to hear any man of God condemning hyenas raising havoc in Nsanje. Is this evil cultural practice imported? No, it is our own creation. Just as there have… Read more »

Sad that we have to wait for a British Journalist to publish this in order for us to take action while all our leaders, Chiefs, Members of Parliament, the Police and probably religious leaders are aware of this practice and just watch.

Okey tamva

Zoona, makolowonso amangidwe chifukwa ndi amene amapereka ana awo ku zitsiruzi. Do you know how mainful it is when you are a virgin? Nde bambo mkulukulu ngati ameneyo wa chi experience si amangowavulaza anawo….painful

This story was very disturbing to say the least when I first read it on BBC last week. It brings some comfort that the ‘hyena’ in the documentary has been arrested; it sends a clear message that this practice (sex with underage girls) is illegal and punishable. However – had BBC not reported on the story, would this man have ever been detected? Credit to the president for acting swiftly, but surely it should be a law enforcement officer ordering the arrest? Or was the lure of positive PR too great for the president to resist? A pattern is starting… Read more »

Koma ameneyu bwanji nkhopeyo akufanana ndi Dausi.


Komatu munthu wadya bwino uyu eti, kuyambira 1980 akupanilira tiwasungwana, tamabele oyima bwino ngati mapeyala, tanthete mbina zogwirika, kukwata mopanga malira mpaka kuwazira, aah, uli bwino bwanawe. kkkkk


Kayatu…ungamve bwanji ali mwana wako? Bwanji ma comment athuwa adzikhala olangiza ndi kuthandizana nzeru after all sitidziwana.

MAM McElmurray

I heard most of the BBC radio report of this story and almost retched while driving. Aniva even “protested” that he didn’t like to initiate girls as young as 12 because they cried. He preferred them to be closer to 15. I sent up a quick prayer that this pervert and others like him would be stopped. Child rape is NOT culture. So glad I saw this report. I hope they follow through after the spotlight is off the issue. Kudos to the reporting team.

Japheth Munyoki

Anthropogists would advice you to engage the culture.. Participatory approach. Help the people believe in something new.
If you fight them legally, they will just find a way of practicing it in hiding.

Zakatangale Tatopa Nazo
Zakatangale Tatopa Nazo

That is why I feel the proactive way of dealing with this issue is to encourage eduaction. But because we can never educate our society because of daily theft of public funds, we have to fight corruption first by arresting and prosecuting the 7 named cashgate ministers.

Pressure Mutharika to arrest 7 Cashgate Ministers, else Mutharika Must Fall! Calling on western governments to help our NGOs and opposition parties to mount massive pressure on this corrupt government of Mr. Mutharika.

Mutharika must fall!

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