‘Hye­nas’ flee into caves as cops hunt 9 sex pests

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News/worldwide -

LILONGWE — Po­lice in Malawi’s Nsanje dis­trict are on the hunt for nine men, no­to­ri­ous for rap­ing young girls as part of an cul­tural cleans­ing tra­di­tion, Nyasa Times re­ports.

The sex preda­tors, known as “hye­nas”, are be­lieved to be hid­ing out in caves across the dis­trict in an ef­fort to evade po­lice.

The devel­op­ment fol­lows the ar­rest of Eric Aniva, an HIV­pos­i­tive hyena who has ad­mit­ted to hav­ing sex with over a hun­dred un­der­age girls for money.

Cuth­bert Kaonga, an of­fi­cer at the Nsanje Po­lice Com­mand, claims that Aniva was ar­rested after he gave con­flict­ing re­ports to of­fi­cers and re­porters from the BBC.

“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,” Kaonga stated.

Malaw­ian Pres­i­dent Peter Mutharika had ear­lier is­sued a state­ment or­der­ing Aniva’s ar­rest and call­ing for an in­quiry into the role of the par­ents in­volved.

Aniva should “be in­ves­ti­gated for ex­pos­ing the young girls to con­tract­ing HIV, and fur­ther be charged ac­cord­ingly”, Mutharika added. “Harm­ful cul­tural and tra­di­tional prac­tices can’t be ac­cepted.”

Women’s rights ac­tivist Emma Kaliya has called on se­cu­rity op­er­a­tives to de­tain par­ents and vil­lagers who still take part in the out­dated sex­ual cleans­ing rit­ual, which sees un­der­age girls as young as 12 be­ing sent to “ini­ti­a­tion camps” be­fore pu­berty. Here, ado­les­cents are taught how to have sex and are forced into sex­ual in­ter­course, over three days, after the start of their first pe­riod.

The rit­ual is be­lieved to train girls to be­come good wives and to pro­tect them from dis­ease or mis­for­tune that could be­fall their fam­i­lies or their vil­lage.

Mean­while, Malawi po­lice have ar­rested an HIV-in­fected man who was paid to have sex with more than 100 ado­les­cent girls as part of a tra­di­tional rit­ual mark­ing their pas­sage to wom­an­hood, of­fi­cials said on Tues­day.

Eric Aniva, from the south­ern dis­trict of Nsanje, was held after giv­ing a me­dia in­ter­view con­fess­ing to have slept with the girls for a fee of be­tween four and seven dol­lars, paid by each of their fam­i­lies.

The lit­tle-known lo­cal prac­tice lasts three days and is per­formed in south­ern Malawi by men known as “hye­nas” at the re­quest of a girl’s par­ents after her first men­stru­a­tion.

The rit­ual is be­lieved to train girls to be­come good wives and to pro­tect them from dis­ease or mis­for­tune that could fall on their fam­i­lies or their vil­lage.

“Aniva was ar­rested on Mon­day after he was sum­moned to my of­fice,” dis­trict com­mis­sioner Gift Lapozo told AFP.

In a BBC in­ter­view broad­cast last week, Aniva con­fessed to be­ing in­fected with HIV and sleep­ing with at least 100 girls with­out us­ing pro­tec­tion. “Some girls are just 12 or 13 years old, but I pre­fer them older,” he said.

“All th­ese girls find plea­sure in hav­ing me as their hyena. They ac­tu­ally are proud and tell other peo­ple that this man is a real man, he knows how to please a woman.”

It was un­clear over how many years Aniva had been a “hyena”.

Malaw­ian Pres­i­dent Peter Mutharika had ear­lier is­sued a state­ment or­der­ing Aniva’s ar­rest and call­ing for an in­quiry into the role of the par­ents in­volved.

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