October 12, 2003
@ 10:08 PM

From the Reuter's article Suspected Penis Snatcher Beaten to Death.

BANJUL (Reuters) - A 28-year-old man accused of stealing a man's penis through sorcery was beaten to death in the West African country of Gambia on Thursday, police said. A police spokesman told Reuters that Baba Jallow was killed by about 10 people in the town of Serekunda, nine miles from the capital Banjul.

Reports of penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, with purported victims claiming that alleged sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear in order to extort cash in the promise of a cure.

The police spokesman said many men in Serekunda were now afraid to shake hands, and he urged people not to believe reports of "vanishing" genitals. Belief in sorcery is widespread in West Africa.

This particular urban legend was quite common back home in Nigeria and every couple of years there'd be "seasons" of mass hysteria where people got beaten up for allegedly snatching penises. There was always some story of "a friend of a friend" who got his penis snatched by some lady/gentleman/witchdoctor who they bumped into in a crowded street but managed to confront the person in time and request their penis back. 

I never realized this urban legend/mass hysteria  was widespread across West Africa. You learn a new thing every day.