Hundreds of residents of Mucheke high density suburb of Masvingo, Zimbabwe, took to the streets on Monday to protest what they charge is inaction by police in the face of several disappearances of children that they fear are connected to ritual murders.
Police said that although children have gone missing they have found no bodies or body parts to warrant the "ritual murder" fears expressed by local residents.
But residents are afraid the police are either being bribed not to investigate or fear the criminal underworld they allege has seized the children for ritual purposes.
Locally a female child who disappeared from a Mucheke home on Christmas Day was found a few days later not far from the home, apparently scalded to death.
In Harare a missing child's remains were found months after he was murdered, shocking many who had been involved in a fruitless search for him.
"We are tired of the police inaction," said one resident who asked not to be named. "We want the police to protect us and the children on our streets, period."
Traditional Chief Richman Rangwani of Mhondoro-Ngezi said full investigations are required to address such suspicions, avoiding unnecessary panic
Gordon Chavhunduka, president of the Zimbabwe Traditional Healers Association, commented that the erosion of the rule of law in Zimbabwe has brought a rise in such cases around the country, and that only democracy can provide a solution.