A human brain costs 100 dollars.
The second-largest hospital in the Southern African country of Swaziland may be operating a black market in human body parts used in magic spells, according to claims made by a reverend and others.
The organ trade at Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital in the city of Manzini has been described as "an open secret" by critics such as Rev. Grace Masilela. Accusers say people come to the hospital from neighboring South Africa to buy bones, hearts, brains and other organs.
At least South Africa's economy isn't completely toast if its people can afford to make the trip down to buy Swazi brains.
The Raleigh Fitkin was financed by Abram Fitkin, an evangelical minister and businessman, and named after his deceased oldest son. Fitkin was a Republican. Somehow I don't think he would have been fond of this brand of ObamaCare death panels.
Gérard Labuschagne, of the South African Police Service's Investigative Psychology Unit, has investigated dozens of muti murders. Writing in the Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling in January 2004,Labuschagne explains the underlying belief system of muti: "In traditional African beliefs, it is assumed that there is only a certain amount of luck in society. Each individual receives a portion of that luck. It is therefore believed that if another person is successful, then they have obtained an extra portion of luck via devious means, usually with the intervention of the supernatural.
"Setbacks or calamities, such as drought or illness, are signs that the natural and social order have been disturbed. One means of obtaining this extra portion of luck or restoring the natural order is through the use of strong muti. It is with this strong muti that muti murders are often associated. Muti made from human body parts is considered to be exceptionally powerful."
Considering the continent's luck, it doesn't seem like killing people improves their situation any.
Traditional healers come to town to purchase herbs at the Manzini market and end their trip with a visit to the mortuary.
A human brain costs R1 000. Other parts, from internal organs to body fat, fetch from R400 to R1 000.
Body parts are roasted and pulverised into an ash, and mixed with herbs for a potion that is either drunk, ingested or in some cases rubbed into the blood through a razor cut to the skin. The user is then endowed with supernatural power, according to belief.
That's about a 100 bucks for a brain. That's so cheap even Obama could afford it.
But there's a rational explanation for all this.
However, the sale of dead people’s body parts has been criticised by some traditional healers as unethical.
“Why do vampires only drink the fresh blood of the living? It is the same with muti. You need body parts that are fresh. I have heard they drug some victims so they can cut out a heart when it is still beating,” said Charles Mngomezulu, a traditional healer.
Is he objecting to the ethics of killing people to use their body parts in black magic... or selling non-fresh body parts? I'm not sure.
The only pathologist in the country, Dr Komma Reddy, noted that he often attended corpses with pieces that had already been removed, while one hospital morgue worker explained the lengths they would have to go to in order to deceive relatives on the look-out for such thefts.
These people have much to teach us about simple living. Just ask any liberal.