Saturday, January 24, 2009

Nigerian Weregoats And Malaysian Weretigers

In Nigeria, a goat has been arrested for stealing a car:
The black and white animal was turned in to police by a vigilante group, which claimed it was an armed car thief who had used black magic to transform himself into a goat to escape arrest after trying to steal a Mazda 323.

"The group of vigilante men came to report that while they were on patrol they saw some hoodlums attempting to rob a car," Tunde Mohammed, a spokesman for Kwara state police, told Reuters.

"They pursued them. However, one of them escaped while the other turned into a goat," he said. While Mr Mohammed said he could not confirm whether a man had, in fact, turned into a goat, he did admit that the animal was in police custody. A photo of the goat, resting on its knees next to a pile of straw, was published in Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper.
A colleague was telling me this week that in rural areas of Malaysia (not Indonesia -- I checked with him), men who accidently get caught in tiger traps are often regarded with great suspicion, because of concern that they may be weretigers. I must admit to finding it kind of awesome that some people live in a world painted so colorfully by myth and legend.

But on the whole, this is a real problem. Much can go wrong in a justice system that relies on roving bands of vigilantes who believe in were-goats.
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