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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK
Mandela makes Thames torso appeal
The shorts the boy was wearing
The body was found wearing only shorts
Nelson Mandela has made a global appeal for information about the murder of a young boy whose remains were found in London.

The torso of the youngster, believed to be from Africa, was spotted floating in the Thames by a man walking across Tower Bridge on 21 September last year.

Detectives believe the boy, whom they have called Adam, may have been a human sacrifice in an African ritual murder.

Such cruel wastage of the lives of our children and youth cannot be allowed to continue

Nelson Mandela
The former South African President said the "gruesome" case had left him with "sadness and a deep sense of tragedy".

In a press conference from Johannesburg on Friday, Mr Mandela said: "It seems likely that the boy might have come from Africa... I wish to direct my appeal specifically to people in Africa.

"If anywhere, even in the remotest village of our continent, there is a family missing a son of that age, who might have disappeared around that time, 21 September 2001, please contact the police in London, either directly or through your local police."

Occult unit

Mr Mandela praised the "sterling contribution" of South African detectives and pathologists to the case.

He added: "Such cruel wastage of the lives of our children and youth cannot be allowed to continue."

Nelson Mandela
Mr Mandela made the appeal from Johannesburg
Scotland Yard's Commander Andy Baker and Detective Inspector Will O'Reilly had travelled to Johannesburg to brief Mr Mandela.

The two detectives, who flew out on Sunday, have also met officers from the South African police Occult Crimes Unit - the only squad in the world to deal with ritual murder and witchcraft - and academics, doctors and spiritualists.

One of the South African policeman Dr Gerard Labuschagne, said as a result of their visit, detectives had a better idea of the concepts involved.

Ritual murder

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Labuschagne said: "Muti murder is a murder which has taken place with the aim of obtaining body parts for use in traditional medicine.

"With ritual murder the aim is to sacrifice the life of an individual, and at this point they [the detectives] are leaning more towards the side of a ritual murder.

"This is not the classic example of what we would expect from a muti murder - typically the person would be disembowelled and parts would be removed from the inside of the body.

"Most characteristically the genitalia would be removed from the victim."

The boy is black and is estimated to be about five or six years old.

DNA tests

His throat appeared to have been cut before his arms, legs and head were severed.

A South African pathologist who carried out a post mortem said he found all the hallmarks of a ritualistic killing.

DNA tests suggested he was from the African continent.

A ground-breaking "bone mapping" tests on his body will help to pinpoint the country and region where he lived and grew up.

Stranger theory

No one fitting the boy's description has been reported missing in the UK or Europe.

Police believe the possibility the boy may have been the victim of a paedophile or stranger is now more remote.

Detectives investigating the murder are continuing to appeal for witnesses and a 50,000 reward has been offered for information.

Call the police incident room on 0208 853 1212.

The BBC's Hilary Andersson
"For Nelson Mandela a little boys extraordinary murder has become a personal campaign"
Dr Gerard Labuschagne, South Africa Police
It's not a classic example of a Muti murder"
Dr Vincent Magombe, African religion expert
"The people who have done this are trying to destroy African spirituality"

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

19 Apr 02 | England
Dredging up Africa's dark side
08 Mar 02 | UK
Voodoo 'practised in UK'
29 Jan 02 | England
Thames torso 'was human sacrifice'
21 Dec 01 | England
Torso murder reward offered
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