afrol News / AENS, 30 June - The mystery of Swaziland's raunchy talking baboons, who terrorised female villagers by demanding food and sex, was finally solved this week when three local boys confessed that they had dressed up in baboon skins. The youths, aged between 12 and 16-years old, admitted stealing ceremonial baboon skins to pull pranks.
They however but denied nine malicious damage to property charges when hauled before the Hluthi traditional court on Wednesday. The youths were arrested by Hluthi village police in southern Swaziland after local widowers and other single women complained about a "plague to baboons" who jumped on their roofs late at night, taunted children, broke windows and stole livestock unless they were pacified with sex.
Women living in outlying homesteads were so terrified by the sex-crazed beasts that they left their fields and moved into the village to stay with relatives.
Traditional court president Mahlabayidlele Dlamini accused the youths of deliberately preying on people's superstitions for sexual and personal benefit and sentenced a 15 and 16-year old to 20 months jail or a fine of R200 after finding them guilty on the first two charges. Their 12-year old accomplice was sentenced to five lashes with a sjambok.
The youths were remanded to custody when they failed to pay their fines. Dlamini will hear evidence on the remaining seven charges next week.
One of the youth's victims, 39-year-old S’thembile Shabangu, tearfully told the court that the "baboons" had chased her out of her home and killed all her chickens. "I was sleeping at home with my three very young children, when we all heard this gruff voice calling me from the roof. I demanded to know who it was, but this strange male voice refused to say and instead demanded food and sex," said Shabangu.
- When I refused, the voice said that the baboons knew I stayed alone, she told. "I again refused, and they started jumping on the roof and throwing stones at my windows. They broke almost all the window panes. Then they killed my chickens and ran off with some of them."
Shabangu caught a glimpse of one of the fleeing figures, and was convinced that it was a demonic baboon after seeing its fur and ears.
The court also heard how the youths stole a pig from an old woman after she too refused to give them sex. "These bewitched baboons boasted they were going to roast and eat my pig unless I let them into my bed. I refused and they ran off with the pig. It was a great loss and they should be punished," she said.
Scores of other single women are expected to testify during the trial next week. Initial reports of the sex-crazed baboons, who spoke English and went by names like 'Bottle Juice', sparked a flood of copy-cat sightings across the kingdom of roughly one million people.
The apparent 'plague' so outraged Swazi Parliamentarians that the House called a snap debate on the issue and urged government to begin a mass extermination of baboons. Conservationists and police investigators warned that it was scientifically impossible for baboons to speak English or execute such a well-planned reign of terror, and laid ambushes for the youths.