SYDNEY: An infamous Papua New Guinea cult leader known as “Black Jesus” was castrated by an angry mob of villagers after being hacked to death for killing young girls as sacrifices, reports said Monday.
Steven Tari, a convicted rapist who had also been suspected of cannibalism, was killed in a remote PNG village last week, with gory details of his death emerging.
The National newspaper said he was hunted down by 80 men, killed, castrated and then dragged with a cane tied around his neck to a shallow pit where his body was dumped.
Tari had been on the run since escaping from a prison in Madang in the Pacific nation’s east during a mass break-out with 48 others in March.
His corpse was dug up by police, prison and health workers Friday. Juith Gawi, a doctor at Modilion Hospital, said Tari had multiple knife wounds.
“He was chopped and slashed with bush knives on both arms and legs, chest and stomach which revealed his intestines. He was also castrated,” Gawi said.
Tari, a failed Lutheran pastor who was widely known as Black Jesus, was found guilty in 2010 of raping girls who belonged to his Christian-based sect and sentenced to up to 10 years.
At the time, he had thousands of village followers, including a core of armed warriors to protect him, in what is commonly referred to in PNG as a “cargo cult.”
As part of his “culture ministry,” the cult leader preached that young girls were to be “married” to him as it was God’s prophecy.
The National said villagers where he was hiding became fed up with cult beliefs and practices, which included “the killing of young girls as sacrifices.”
Local police official Ray Ban said Tari and his followers offered Rose Wagum, 15, last week as a “sacrifice.” She was found with stab wounds and reportedly died of blood loss.
The group also tried to offer another 14-year-old girl but were stopped by the mob which eventually killed Tari.
The National said Wagum’s aunt was the first known “flower girl” for Tari and found young virgins for him, and it was she who took her niece to his camp to be sacrificed.
“Tari is dead and this cult worship dies with him,” he said. “Stop this worship now. If I hear any more cult worship here, I will return with my men.”
When he was captured in 2007, there were widespread allegations that Tari’s cult also practiced cannibalism along with sacrificial blood rituals, but police only charged him with rape.
PNG is a sprawling nation where black magic, sorcery and cannibalism sometimes occur.
Last year police, also in the Madang region, arrested dozens of people linked to an alleged cannibal cult accused of killing at least seven people, eating their brains raw and making soup from their penises.
There have been several other recent cases linked to cults, witchcraft and cannibalism, with a man in 2011 reportedly found eating his screaming, newborn son during a sorcery initiation ceremony.
In 2009, a young woman was stripped naked, gagged and burnt alive at the stake in the Highlands town of Mount Hagen.
And two years earlier police clashed with members of a cult suspected of human sacrifices in the remote province of Morobe.
In that incident, police were investigating reports of several murders in which people were decapitated, with their heads impaled on stakes and paraded around.