17 Dec 2001
Criminologists and psychologists will define a serial killer as someone who repeatedly kills other human beings over a period of time. Serial killing is viewed by all societies as a heinous crime and the perpetrators of these crimes are seen as reincarnated devils. Books and television documentaries have been produced to depict the activities of notorious serial killers. The general conception is that a serial killer is most likely to be a mental patient. This is borne out of the belief that a normal person with a conscience will be deterred by remorse and guilt to discontinue killing after committing two or three murders.
Here in Cameroon, and indeed in most of Africa, we have so many unnoticed serial killers who are mentally balanced. That person who knows that he/she is HIV- positive and decides to step up unprotected sexual activities with multiple partners is a serial killer. Yes, we have people who, after testing HIV- positive will resolve; ‘I will not die alone’ meaning I will spread the disease to as many people as possible. When you think that way, you are a serial killer. Some of these killers livelong enough to actually watch their victims die one after the other and in some instances attend their funerals. These are chilling observations but they are living realities.
The very nature of our current society makes people very vulnerable to this special category of serial killers. Many factors are responsible for this vulnerability; notably, poverty, weak state institutions, ignorance and generalised moral decay. Let us take a hypothetical case where the HIV-positive subject is a very wealthy man. If he decides that he will use his money and have unprotected sex with at least one lady each day, nothing, to the best of my knowledge will stop him. Poverty has pushed some women to such a state of desperation that they will consent to unprotected sex with a stranger for as little as five US dollars. A friend of mine told me of an encounter with one of the ladies who usually flag down motorists at night on the streets of Douala. When asked whether she was not afraid of AIDS as she was soliciting just any stranger? She replied, ‘I know I may die from AIDS as a result of my actions but I will certainly die of hunger if I fail to come to the streets.’ This shocking reply spoke volumes of conditions in which some of our compatriots live.
To the best of my knowledge I do not know of any case in this country where someone has been prosecuted for knowingly infecting the other person with HIV. I am not even aware of any laws that apply to this topic. While we wait undecided the ‘sexual’ serial killers are on the prowl cutting down new victims. The sad thing is that among the victims are many school children especially in secondary and tertiary institutions. The girls in these institutions are usually pushed by poverty and naivety into the hands of these sex monsters. The infected girls may in turn (usually) unknowingly infect their boy friends that are students. The notorious serial killers we know of in history could at least count their victims. Our own type of killer will never be able to accurately count his victims even if he employs the services of world-renowned mathematicians. Whenever he dies and the cause of death is made public, a terrible paralysing fear grips all his sex partners. Our own type of serial killer is more feared by his victims when dead than when he is alive. What an irony of life!
Copyright ( Jan. 2001 by Njei Moses Timah
Njei Moses Timah