Malawi ‘hyena man’ Aniva out of prison: Served his sentence for ritual sex, stalled appeal withdrawn

Eric Aniva, an HIV-positive, self-professed “hyena man” who had sex with over 100 women and girls in Malawi as part of a “sexual cleansing” ritual, is out of jail after serving his sentence.

HIV-positive Malawi ‘hyena’ Eric Aniva was the first case to be tried under Malawi’s Gender Equality Act of 2013. Photograph: Eldson Chagara/AFP/Getty Images

The Blantyre Magistrate’s court in November 2016 sentenced Aniva to two years imprisonment on charges of indulging in harmful cultural practices and an attempt to commit the same offence contrary to Section 5 sub-sections 1-2 of Gender Equality Act of 2013.

Aniva’s lawyer Micheal Goba Chipeta said Aniva has been out of prison since December 2017 after he served his full sentence.

But Aniva had  appealed against his conviction and sentence.

His lawyer said the appeal has been withdrawn “because it jhad been rendered academic and of no practical effect.”

Aniva was the subject of a BBC feature into various sexual cleansing practices in Malawi.

He was prosecuted after he admitted in a BBC interview  to having sex with 104 women and girls in a form of ritual cleansing.

The revelations prompted President Peter Mutharika to order his arrest and that of all hyenas.

The 47-year-old was consequently arrested on July 25, 2016.

Sexual cleansing involving ‘hyenas’  known as  Kulowa Kufa is common practice in southern Malawi- and women are required to participate in it at various points in their life, including if their husband has died or if they have an abortion.

Shockingly, young girls are sent to ‘initiation camps’ by their families before puberty, where they are taught how to have sex. Then, they are forced to have sex over three days after their first period to “to avoid infection with their parents or the rest of the community”.

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Jovi Chipolondwa
Aniva is that man who still lives to wonder what befell him for sincerely following the rituals he has grown with. This is why we need transformative education in Malawi. No tradition is any better looking at what people believe no matter where they come from. Think of Mulanje, Phalombe and Thyolo, how about Machinga, Mangochi Zomba etc How about Lilongwe, Rumphi etc…. We need to examine each culture that dehumanises people by turning them into sexual objects or sexual master etc. As a nation, we need to focus on what pleases God. We are living in different times when… Read more »
K Phiri
Aniva was arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to jail for an offense for which the entire community and ethnic group ought to be prosecuted, tried and jailed. Why was Aniva alone jailed? The criminal justice system needs to review this again. I am not saying Kulowa Kufa is a good cultural practice. All I am saying is that Aniva was wrongly jailed for a crime that most people commit in Nsanje and Chikwawa – a crime that is culturally sanctioned, accepted and approved.. If you ask him, you will discover that Aniva never went out looking for girls and widows to… Read more »


Lowinzie Sibande

K. Phiri, I entirely agree with you. But why did our courts fail to reason like you? Where is the wisdom and justice in our courts?


This whole case was handled based on emotions, arresting him personally was never near any solution. We need to study the entire culture and understand it. From there, we isolate problems and resolve them accordingly. This case made afisi just to hide and eat more…

It will be a pity if the lesson is lost in Aniva’s conduct. The take away is that the nation needs serious social education on a number of fronts, including gender equality, review of old abusive culture, the right to dignity especially for innocent girls, penal code system as far as Gender equality Act is concerned (spreading AIDS knowingly should be punishable by life sentence). I am hoping that the case will lead to traditional leaders review their stance on ritual sex for what it is. I am hoping that Aniva would have learnt his lesson and not think that… Read more »
Ras Mpunga

man need to be compensated for unfair trial and conviction.


True! He was only carrying out a job which people willingly hired him to perform.

And to his stupid lawyer Goba Chipeta! Go on with the appeal so that his name is cleared.


I agree with Ras Mpunga. What sense does it make for the whole president ordering the arrest of a man accused of petty issues leaving out people who have stolen billions of tax payers’ money ?Stupid !

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