SYDNEY – An infamous Papua New Guinea cult leader known as “Black Jesus” was castrated by an angry mob after being hacked to death for killing young girls as sacrifices, reports said Monday.
Steven Tari, a convicted rapist who was suspected of cannibalism, was killed in a remote PNG village last week, with gory details of his death emerging.
The National newspaper said Tari, who had been on the run since escaping from a prison in Madang in the Pacific nation’s east during a mass breakout with 48 others in March, was hunted down by 80 men.
It said he was killed, castrated and then dragged with a cane tied around his neck to a shallow pit where his body was dumped.
His corpse was dug up by police, prison and health workers on Friday. Juith Gawi, a doctor at Modilion Hospital, said he 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,” he preached that young girls were to be “married” to him as it was God’s prophecy.
The National said people in the village 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 was stopped by the mob that 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.
Ban said at least one other girl is still missing.
“Tari is dead and this cult worship dies with him,” Ban 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 in the Madang region, police 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 burned alive at the stake in the Highlands town of Mount Hagen.