Appeal by Nelson Mandela at news conference with two Scotland Yard Detectives for help in solving Thames murder of a young boy

19 April 2002

We are here today for a very sad and tragic reason, unique and interesting as it may be from forensic perspectives.

I am joined at this conference by Commander Andy Baker and Detective Inspector Will O'Reilly from Scotland Yard.

I welcome them here, but with the sadness and a deep sense of the tragedy of the case that we are to speak about.

The background is briefly the following, and the two officers from Scotland Yard will be able to elaborate further during question time:

As long ago as 21st September last year the body of a young child was discovered floating in the Thames River in London. To date no one has yet come forward to identify the body or to provide the faintest inkling of information that could help to solve the murder.

This is in spite of the fact that there had been extensive media appeals in the United Kingdom and Europe and that an offer of a reward of £50,000 had been made for information that could lead to solving the crime.

The body was of a child aged between 4 to 7 years. The body was naked except for a pair of orange shorts. What is so gruesome is that the child's body had been dismembered, with his head, arms and legs removed, so that only the torso remained.

The post-mortem revealed that he died in a very violent manner. His neck had been cut in a very unusual way and he died of a loss of blood. What is even more gruesome is that the arms, legs and head had, according to the post-mortem results, been removed in a very skilful manner.

Scotland Yard's careful investigation, despite the lack of information, has pointed to this murder possibly having a ritualistic slant to it. It may be that we are dealing here with what is often referred to as a muti murder.

Scotland Yard has appealed to us to add our voice to those imploring people from around the world to come forward with any information that can help to identify the young murdered victim and to trace the perpetrators of this horrific crime. And I conceded to that appeal without any hesitation.

Scotland Yard informs me that early indications of their investigations are that the boy comes from somewhere in Africa and that he may have arrived in the United Kingdom only days before his murder.

Establishing the true identity of the boy is crucial for a successful conclusion of the investigation being conducted by the police. Hence our appeal to all people in the United Kingdom and across the world to come forward with even the least bit of information that can help solve this murder.

And as it seems likely that the boy might have come from Africa and had been the victim of some ritualistic murder, I wish to direct my appeal even more specifically to people in Africa. If anywhere, even in the remotest village of our continent, there is a family missing a son of that age who might have disappeared around that time - 21rst September 2001 - please contact the police in London; either directly or through your local police.

The South African Police Service and South African pathologists have already made sterling contributions towards trying to solve this terrible murder.

The Metropolitan Police Service from Scotland Yard had dedicated themselves to solving this murder. They are committed to bringing to justice the killers of this young boy - whom they have personalised in their investigations by calling him Adam rather than having him referred to merely as some unidentified body.

I wish to repeat my appeal to all people across the world, and specifically in Africa, to come forward and help bring to justice the killers of this young boy. Such cruel wastage of the lives of our children and youth cannot be allowed to continue.

And I especially ask for any out there who may be the family of this tragically killed young boy to please step forward.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation