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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Medicine Murder in Basutoland: Colonial Rule and Moral Crisis
Authors:Murray, ColinISNI
Sanders, Peter
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Lesotho
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Abstract:This article analyses an acute moral crisis in the colonial administration of Basutoland (Lesotho) in the late 1940s. It was provoked by a contagious rash of what became known as 'medicine murders', apparently perpetrated by senior chiefs. Two particular murders of this kind are examined in detail, as a result of which, in 1949, two very senior chiefs and some of their followers were hanged. The authors analyse the succession disputes that lay behind the 'war of medicine horns' which supposedly led to the murders. There follows a review of the conflicting currents of public and official opinion that prevailed at the time. The authors then summarize the evidence relating to the two murders and outline the fundamental judicial dilemma that arose, that of the validity or otherwise of accomplice evidence. Finally, they describe the immediate aftermath of the execution, which took place in an atmosphere of profound shock. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French.