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Witch Hunts

Aired August 25, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Some stories haunt us. They leave us amazing that what's being described is even happening. Tonight, we're bringing you one such story and I'm going to tell you, it won't be easy to watch. It involves children abandoned, abused or worse over claims of being witches. We'll show you where this practice is most common, how it could be taking place closer to you than you think, and, crucially, how you can be part of the solution.

This is the show that joins the dots on the world's big stories.

On CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

I'm Becky Anderson in London.

Tonight, from Africa's west coast to the streets of Britain, we'll hear from people trying to stamp out what is a shocking practice that's destroying the lives of children. And we talk to the man who uncovered the truth.

Then to the problem worldwide, child witches -- a CONNECT THE WORLD special.

If you know of a child accused of being a witch or of a family ripped apart by the accusation, I want to hear from you. My Twitter address is atbeckycnn.

Also coming up this hour, they are already struggling to survive. Now, these children in Pakistan are facing a new threat from human traffickers.

And eating away at the oil -- nature's helping hand in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ostracized, abandoned, tortured, even buried alive -- all too often, this is the terrible fate of children around the world accused of being witches -- some too young to even understand the word. They endure abuse by their parents, their churches, their entire communities.

Well, tonight, the start for you of a three part series on the problem.

Christian Purefoy reporting from Nigeria.



Well, it is something that came to a mass hysteria in Southeast Nigeria, where the most vulnerable, the youngest in society, are being blamed for society's ills. It's reminiscent -- it brings to mind the Medieval witch hunts of Europe and the witches of Salem Kate (ph) in the U.S.

But before we start the program, I just want to say, a lot of people, you know, could say that this is the airing of dirty laundry, that this is just another horror story from Africa. That's not what we want to do with this at all. This is an extremely sensitive issue that we hope the more light that is shown upon it, the less the darkness will go away.

(voice-over): His name is Godswill and has been beaten and abandoned -- cast out by his own family and society at large, accused of being a witch. No matter that he's a 5-year-old boy. He's apparently been here for three days and from what everyone here is saying, his mother abandoned him, accusing him of -- of witchcraft. You can see, he's got some scars. He even doesn't want me touching him.

Sam Ikpe-Itauma believes there are thousands of children like Godswill in this region of Nigeria and he's trying to rescue them. Using a little care and attention, Sam starts the process of trying to restore Godswill's trust in the world around him.

SAM IKPE-ITAUMA, CHILD'S RIGHTS & REHABILITATION NETWORK: You can see from here, he must have undergone some torture. You can see these are areas of injuries and -- and scars all over his body, meaning that he must have passed through some level of -- high level of torture and traumatism.

PUREFOY: At this orphanage, Sam cares for more than 200 children who have suffered similar ordeals.

IKPE-ITAUMA: Well, if a child is said to be a witch, to possess with a certain spiritual sphere capable of making that child to transform into like cats, snakes, vipers, a type of (INAUDIBLE) like the killing of people, bringing about diseases, misfortune in the family.

PUREFOY: Sam believes there is no such thing as witchcraft and is trying to raise awareness in communities now gripped by hysteria. Belief in witchcraft is rooted in centuries of tradition, but it's only in the last 10 years, says Sam, that it's become associated with child abuse.

IKPE-ITAUMA: You know, it's actually such a practice because poverty is a big factor that actually propels this child abuse (INAUDIBLE). Poverty is actually a (INAUDIBLE) start to ignorance.

PUREFOY (on camera): Children can be accused of witchcraft for almost any reason -- maybe seizures, maybe just talking in their sleep. Six-year- old Emma Vault (ph) was blamed by her stepfather for bringing about the death of her mother with black magic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see from his face here the -- the scars are gradually wearing off. One of the pastors who (INAUDIBLE) is responsible for the (INAUDIBLE) is hot water to bathe her face and used machetes to cut her finger off as a sign to say that she is not wanted there.

PUREFOY: With new cases every week, Sam is simply overwhelmed.

IKPE-ITAUMA: I have become sick sometimes when I see a child, I cannot take the child to the center because the center has already accumulated a lot of children and they don't have places for children.

PUREFOY: No one knows why Godswill was accused of witchcraft. His parents have still not been found. But for now, he and the other children are safe.



ANDERSON: All right...

PUREFOY: Becky, as you said before the show, the -- the problem is not just abuse, there's also murder going on down there, as well. We -- we've got the reports the day of -- the day we arrived, just a few days earlier, of a child being mobbed by the community and -- and killed.

Where Sam is, where that orphanage is the epicenter. And it sort of spreads out from there. It's a very dark episode in Nigeria's history, what's going on. It's going to be very difficult for Nigerians to -- to face this. It is literally an hour's flight from here.

But despite all of those dark things going on, there's a lot of good people trying to do some good things down there, like Sam, facing overwhelming odds, but struggling on -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Christian Purefoy for you.

You can see, we're just having some technical issues there, so we apologize for the slight pauses before Christian started speaking in what is a powerful report out of Nigeria.

Well, that is just one of many countries in Africa where children are being accused of witchcraft. According to UNICEF, the urban child witch phenomenon is growing in several countries in West and Central Africa. Children at risk are being accused of -- being accused include orphans and children with physical disabilities or illnesses. Now, another factor in several other countries is albinism, which is a congenital disorder characterized by lack of pigment in the skin and hair. Now, in these countries, children with albinism are sometimes discriminated against and even killed because they are thought to have magical powers.

Well, the UN, in fact, says witch hunts are becoming an international problem, spreading around the globe in both rural and urban areas. One expert told us it even happens here in Britain.

CNN's Max Foster sat down with Justin Bahunga, who began by talking about one practically troubling case.


JUSTIN BAHUNGA, AFRICANS UNITED AGAINST CHILD LABOR: In one case which was brought forward is a child who died out of the wombs made out for being branded as a witch.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: And was it a boy or a girl?

BAHUNGA: It was a girl.

FOSTER: And she was being beaten consistently over years, was she?

BAHUNGA: Over years, yes.

FOSTER: Because her parents thought she was a witch?

BAHUNGA: Exactly, yes.

FOSTER: That's just one case. And you're dealing with more and more cases, aren't you, in this country?

Does that mean that there's more of this type of abuse or that we're hearing more about it or you're just getting better at your job, basically?

BAHUNGA: By being on the front line and talking about it, then people come to us to -- for help.

FOSTER: So how many cases would you say there are in the U.K. in -- in a year?

BAHUNGA: We have dealt with 10 cases this year. But always...

FOSTER: Ten cases so far this year?

BAHUNGA: This year. But we are a small organization. There are other organizations on the ground who are doing the same.

FOSTER: From your experience, what sort of issues do these children have which then get interpreted as being witchcraft?

BAHUNGA: Being witches, yes, or being possessed...


BAHUNGA: -- is anything that looks like abnormal to them is seen as coming from some supernatural powers, rather than some real scientific or medical. I'll give you an example. A child who's got autism, a child with Down Syndrome, a child with dyslexia, a child with epilepsy...

FOSTER: In these communities...


BAHUNGA: -- they'll be seen as witches and (INAUDIBLE) forces other than the medical part of it, which are causing this.

FOSTER: So then the parents take their child to the local pastor.

And then what happens?

BAHUNGA: Either the parent who says they are witches at many times, it is the pastor who tells the parent, you know what, it's not medical, it is witches or even spirits in them, because once they do the exorcism or deliverance, they are paid the money.

FOSTER: They receive money from the family?


FOSTER: So that it's a business?

BAHUNGA: It's a business, yes.

FOSTER: So once they've decided this child is a witch and they've got their money, what do they do to the child?

What happens?

BAHUNGA: They -- they pray on the children. They look at exorcism rites. They -- they pray for the child and hoping that the -- the illness or disability will go. And the second part is we can't work -- what I was saying before what they call beating the devil out of the child.

FOSTER: Which is basically physical abuse?

BAHUNGA: Exactly.

FOSTER: Beating the child up.

BAHUNGA: Exactly.

FOSTER: But in this country, there are child abuse, there are violence laws, there's abuse laws of all sorts of different kinds. So they can't go to the extent that they often do in Africa, can they?

BAHUNGA: Exactly. As a -- and all that is saying, enforcement is better here than it is done in Africa, so there is a letup -- there is less than there would be in Africa, because that we know of intervention of the social services.

FOSTER: It's a milder form of abuse in this country, but abuse nevertheless?



ANDERSON: Justin Bahunga speaking to Max Foster.

Well, from helping victims in the U.K., as Justin is, to sounding the alarm at the United Nations, we'll continue our special look at the abuse of children accused of being witches and talk with a man who made it his mission to alert the world.



I'm Becky Anderson in London.

By road, by boat, by foot, thousands of displaced families in Pakistan are returning to their towns and villages for the first time, looking for the familiar under the floodwaters.

Kyung Lah joined one couple as they learned what has become of the place they once called home.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They come back in small waves by tractor, by bicycle and sometimes bare feet like Gos Chachar (ph) and his family.

(on camera): Everything is gone?


LAH : Everything?


LAH (voice-over): That's the question they can't answer and what they're trying to find out -- what happened to the home and town they fled when Pakistan's historic floods hit three weeks ago.

Carrying what they can, they wade through the receding floodwater until a tractor empty enough to carry them passes by.

On the tractor, we meet Sumri Banglani (ph) and her 4-year-old daughter. This is tough on them, she explains, but she wants to go home. "We have no choice. What can we do?"

It is a dangerous trek with contaminated floodwaters and uncertain ground that claim this tractor and a precious cage of chickens. Everywhere along this journey, water. Though it has partially receded, it still laps at doorsteps -- the water now too deep for the tractor. So Gos Chachar and his wife, Nasavan (ph), board a boat for the final leg home. "I need to see this," says Chachar, "I need to see what's left of my house."

(on camera): You can see how hard it is for these families just to try to return home to see what's happening to their houses. But this is one of those communities that got flooded 16 days ago. They have yet to see any aid, though some of the locals here say that they did see some food air dropped right into their community, but it missed and it landed in the water.

(voice-over): Nasavan's face tells us we've arrived at her house -- the house and their town unspared. A pair of scissors and drawer salvaged, the rest lost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My home is broke.

LAH: Despair descends. The question about his home answered.

Now, what to do next?

Kyung Lah, CNN, Korampur, Pakistan.


ANDERSON: And it's not just homes and livelihoods that have been lost in Pakistan's floods. Whole families have been torn apart, often leaving children extremely vulnerable.

Well, earlier I spoke to Stacey Winston in Islamabad.

She's from the U.N. office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs.

And she told me that human trafficking is one of the, quote, "colossal challenges facing Pakistan right now."

Listen to this.


STACEY WINSTON, U.N. HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS OFFICE: Human trafficking, as of now, we haven't had any cases yet. It's a concern. But thankfully, we have no cases reported as of yet.

ANDERSON: What will you be looking out for?

What are the signs?

How will you know if it is going on?

WINSTON: Well, I mean there are specialists that work with -- with the government of Pakistan to try and prevent counter-trafficking through law enforcement agencies. They are in regular contact. I think that there's good coordination between the agencies that work on counter- trafficking and the government of Pakistan. So definitely, I mean people are aware. They're alert and they -- they are concerned.

But right now, it's the flood-affected communities that are in desperate need of basic -- you know, essentials to survive.

ANDERSON: It's when you see the split up of families -- and we've seen it in Haiti, for example -- that you see evidence of -- of human trafficking at its worst. Just describe the sort of breakdown in -- in the structures that you're seeing. I mean we -- we are seeing families ripped apart at the moment, aren't we?

WINSTON: It is very, very -- a sad situation. Families -- families are deeply affected, I think unimaginable. And this disaster is bigger than anyone originally thought. And the floods are still ongoing. I mean when you span from the Himalayas down to the Arabian Sea, you look at that scope and it is enormous. And many families have been displaced and some separated.

But I think, you know, the concern is, you know, to keep people alive and to protect them.


ANDERSON: Well, thankfully, not as bad an issue as it might be in Pakistan, although I watch this space. Sadly, human trafficking is something that CONNECT THE WORLD is committed to following in all its forms. So the past few weeks, we've been following Siddharth Kara, one of the world's leading experts on the subject, as he travels through South Asia. And he's taken us from India's cleaning capital of New Delhi to the shrimp industry on Bangladesh's coast and elsewhere documenting cases of forced labor involving children and adults alike.

Now, Siddarth's weekly exclusive blog paints a heartbreaking picture of what he has found. His latest looks at women trafficked in as domestic help. And you can read about this and leave your own comments at

And George says: "It's a shame and a shock that we educated Indians ignore the bonded labor environment in India and other parts of the emerging and undeveloped world."

Well, read the blogs, join in the discussion. I'll be putting your questions and comments to Siddarth when we speak to him later in the week. On the trail of human trafficking begins at for you.

Well, after the break, you'll meet the mighty microbes that are cleaning up our polluted oceans. They're slowly feasting on oil spills in contaminated marshlands.

But can we give nature a nudge and speed up the process?

We'll find out, after this.


ANDERSON: Well, let the adventure begin. For the past week or so, we've been taking you around the world to some of the most incredible places on earth. It's nature uncovered, science unexplored, our environment like you have never seen it before.

Well, on Monday, we were in the U.S. blending biology with robotics. Scientists there have a theory that an eel's spinal cord may be the key to helping paralyzed people walk again.

Well, then we were here in Britain, where architects are using nature as their model and mentor, bringing buildings to life from designs by the best in the business.

Well, tonight, we are wading through the fragile Louisiana marshlands, where some of our smallest organisms are hard at work on one of our biggest environmental problems.

Have a look.


DENNIS KELSO, OCEAN CONSERVANCY: I was the commissioner during the Exxon Valdez spill, which meant that I was responsible for enforcing the cleanup standards.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Today, Denny Kelso is vice president of the non-profit Ocean Conservancy. He's heading out to examine the marshlands of Louisiana with Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the famous explorer, Jacques Cousteau.

PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, ENVIRONMENTALIST: You know, marshes and wetlands, you can think of as the nurseries of the ocean. There are so many species that rely on them for a critical, very early stage in their life cycle.

ANDERSON: Even in this fragile ecosystem, nature can be resilient, healing itself through what is known as bioremediation.

COUSTEAU: And you're depending upon bacteria to consume and metabolize the oil so that it is basically transformed and no longer toxic and no longer a threat.


ANDERSON: Byron Yordanopoulos with Universal Remediation has developed a powder that stimulates bioremediation, speeding up this natural process.

YORDANOPOULOS: The main system was developed by NASA. That means they developed the micro sphere, which is very important for PRP. These micro spheres are hollow and they're buoyant.

ANDERSON: These micro spheres are filled with beeswax, a natural food for microbes.

YORDANOPOULOS: PRP will bind, immediately grab the hydrocarbon. Once it grabs it, it's a stable matrix. You cannot recycle it anymore. Once it grabs the oil in the water, it will float. It will allow the indigenous microbes that are in the water to start eating the hydrocarbon and the PRP at the same time. We have sold it to Abu Dhabi, where they have used it in Abu Dhabi with great success. They have used it in Ireland. We did a work in Mexico.

ANDERSON: With or without PRP, full bioremediation takes a long time.

COUSTEAU: Really, I think, as we've seen in Exxon Valdez, there's still oil in that ecosystem. None of the major fisheries and -- and wildlife species have recovered.

KELSO: If you dig down, though, in heavily oiled beaches, we have been very surprised to see how much oil still remains and how close to liquid form it is.

COUSTEAU: None of these ecosystems were healthy to begin with. And I think that's important to remember. It's like a human catching pneumonia. You might be able to handle that. But if you're already suffering from pneumonia and then you catch meningitis and on top of that, maybe you catch a form of cancer, you don't have a chance.


ANDERSON: Amazing stuff, helping nature restore the delicate balance to our ecosystem.

We've been in the United States looking at bioremediation in Louisiana's marshlands. The ocean's bacteria breaking down the crude from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Well, tomorrow, we're in Kazakhstan, at the site of what has been described as one of the world's most shocking manmade environmental disasters. We'll take a look at the efforts now underway to restore the northern section of the Aral Sea after more than 50 years as a salty dust bowl. That's tomorrow right here on CONNECT THE WORLD. This is our special series, Earth's Frontiers, here on CNN.

Well, it's an ugly twist to centuries of superstition. We continue our look tonight at the abuse of children accused of being witches and talk with a man who made it his mission to bring their plight to the world's attention.

That and your news headlines, up next.


ANDERSON: Just before half past nine in London, you are back with CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson.

Coming up here on CNN, we continue our focus on the fate of children around the world who are accused of being witches. We'll have more from the former U.N. special rapporteur, Philip Olson.

And it's the steal of a lifetime that may end up being a precious paperweight. We're going to take a look at the daring heist that netted thieves more than half a million in gold.

But will the specially marked bouillon be a bonus or a burden?

And back by popular demand, we promised to replay your favorites, so Jacqueline Novogratz, the business whiz who is helping fight poverty in Africa, is your Connector of the Day today.

All those stories coming up on the next (INAUDIBLE).

I'm going to get you a quick check of the headlines this hour here on CNN.

A string of bombings across Iraq Wednesday morning killed at least 48 people and wounded nearly 300 more. Thirteen Iraqi cities were hit. The attacks mostly targeted security forces and came just a day after the U.S. military announced its troop presence had shrunk to fewer than 50,000.

The United Nations says it's looking into a rebel attack in Eastern Congo, where Rwandan-Congonese rebels are accused of gang-raping nearly 200 women. Three UN peacekeepers were reported killed and another seven injured in the four-day attack.

A new controversial posting by WikiLeaks. The whistle-blower website today published what it calls an internal CIA reports that investigates the perception that the United States supports terrorism. One US official tells CNN it's always disturbing when classified information is exposed, but says, quote, "It's not a blockbuster paper."

Divorced for just two days and the silence is broken. Tiger Woods and his former wife, Elin Nordegren, have both gone public about the end of their marriage. In her first interview since the golfer admitted engaging in extra-marital affairs, Ms. Nordegren says she now feels stronger than ever. Tiger, meanwhile, told reporters that he wishes his wife the best, and that his children are his top priority.

Forgive the gremlins in the system this evening. You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. We want to return now to our top story this hour. Abuse so brutal and senseless, based entirely on superstition. Continuing our special focus on children accused of being witches.

We've heard this hour from our Christian Purefoy in Nigeria, went to an orphanage there where many of these children end up. We can read more on his reporting by going to our website, You've already started leaving your comments there on the story.

Brady1233 says, "What a horrible story. I can't believe that people would do something like this. I understand the religious aspect, but please, this is just cruel and inhumane."

There's a lot more coming in there, and we'll do more at the end of the hour. Of course, you can connect with me and the show on Twitter. Find me at @beckycnn. That's what Stan Vito did. He tweets, "It is a crazy idea to say that a child that cries at night or suffers night fever is a witch that must be put through cruel deliverance." And Tripol adding, "Stories like these make me hate being a Nigerian. Horrific, how children are hated solely on the hunches of pastors."

We love hearing what you have to say about the stories, so join in the debate,

Our next guest was a critical voice in raising global awareness of the abuse. And on a trip to central Africa -- to the Central African Republic in 2008, he was so disturbed by what he saw that he dug deeper and uncovered a widespread, chronic problem. Philip Alston, former UN Special Rapporteur, joins us now from Boston, Massachusetts.

Philip, we do thank you for joining us. You uncovered what was a grim and horrifying story. Why are these kids branded as witches or as possessed?

PHILIP ALSTON, FORMER UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR: Well, obviously, it's particularly distressing when we're talking about children, but it's very important to bear in mind that there is a very strong belief in the powers of traditional healers and the role of witches in a lot of countries around the world, particularly in Africa, but not only.

And so, there are, I would estimate, thousands of women killed every year on the basis that they are witches. And, of course, children are also caught up in this problem.

ANDERSON: Yes. And this is abuse. Whatever you believe in, this is abuse. So who's doing it?

ALSTON: It's done by family members, often children targeted because their behavior is out of the normal in some way. Often neighbors will report a child. Sometimes there are sort of legitimate grounds for the objection a child is behaving very strangely. Equally disturbing --


ANDERSON: Legitimate -- sorry. I have to stop you there.

ALSTON: Is the fact that --

ANDERSON: I need to stop you there. Legitimate grounds for child abuse, you say?

ALSTON: No, not for child abuse, but for the diagnosis that there is something wrong with the child. Now, of course, there's no justification whatsoever for then labeling the child as a witch, excommunicating them from the community, and sometimes killing them, which happens.

But what I'm interested in is trying to look at the broader reasons for this practice, which I think we need to try to understand. And it's important to note that a lot of the reasons are actually completely fraudulent. In other words, it's neighbors, it's part of the extended family, who actually want to get rid of a kid for whatever personal reason --


ALSTON: And they simply label this kid as a witch.

ANDERSON: How prevalent is this problem? Our report was out of Nigeria today. I believe that in west Africa there is a prevalence for this -- what we'll call witchcraft abuse. How far does it extend outside of west Africa?

ALSTON: It extends, certainly, in most -- many countries, at least, in Africa. There are thousands of children on the streets in Kinshasa, for example, who have been cast out of their homes because they are alleged to be witches, and they have nowhere to go. There are major problems in Ghana, in South Africa, in Kenya. Many countries of Africa.

There are also big problems in India of people, usually women rather than children, but of course sometimes children are caught up. They're condemned as being witches, they are completely, then cast out of their communities. They have no place to go, and they are seriously abused.

ANDERSON: Yes. And we've also heard a report this evening about the problem on the streets of Britain as well. The sad fact is that there are countries, I believe, around the world that actually legislate against so- called child witches. Where is that happening?

ALSTON: The legislation in quite a few countries, actually, prescribes very serious punishments for witchcraft. In the Central African Republic, for example, what's called sorcery or charlatanism is punishable by death.

Similarly, Iran is also in the process of adopting legislation that any Muslim who is convicted of being a witch can be executed.

There are problems in Saudi Arabia. A Lebanese journalist, in fact, is accused of witchcraft. That's a major issue between the two countries.

There are many countries around the world which have severely punitive legislation.


ANDERSON: Philip, would you go so far as to say --

ALSTON: So that not only are you not protecting the --

ANDERSON: There are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands who are victim of witchcraft abuse, then? Can you put your finger on a number?

ALSTON: I think -- Because the issue has been under reported and under studied, generally unacknowledged in many ways, there are no statistics. But I would certainly say on the basis of my own research that there are thousands who are killed each year, and that would definitely indicate that the number of alleged witches would be way up in the tens of thousands.

ANDERSON: This was an issue that was very much below the radar until your initial report after your journey to Central African Republic in 2008. What is the international community now doing to try and prevent the practice?

ALSTON: There's been some very good work, but it's really only beginning, both by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. And by the children's agency, UNICEF. Both of them have really started to focus on the fact that there are a lot of kids who come within their mandates who are really persecuted and victimized on the grounds of being witches. And they're trying to encourage some sort of serious public, but I think also, necessarily, an international dialogue to focus on the extent of the problem, which has been completely ignored, as you say.

ANDERSON: Philip, we appreciate your time this evening. We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. This only the first of a three-part series on the issue that we'll be doing. Philip, thank you here on CNN.

You and I, all of us, can help stop the abuse of accused witches from spreading. One way is to click on On our website, you'll find two charities that work with young victims, helping to transform their lives and restore stolen childhoods. That is

Also, get in touch with me, @beckycnn. Tell me what you think about this story, if you've heard, if you know a family or a child who is accused of being a witch, we want to hear from you,, of course, as well.

We've seen how poverty can be a factor in witch hunt frenzies, and tomorrow, we're going to take a closer look at the role of churches in whipping up fear in some areas. Pastors make money -- big money selling parents on the idea that the demons in their kids must be driven out one way or another. That is tomorrow here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

You're watching CNN, I'm Becky Anderson in London. Up next, there one minute, gone the next. We watch as a heist targets a piece of Florida history and explore what the fate of the golden bar and other stolen artifacts could be. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: We all know that theft is a common crime. Things get stolen, swiped, pinched and pocketed every day, don't they? All over the world. But there are some heists that get us all talking.

Take the audacious theft of a gold bar worth half a million dollars from a museum in Florida. John Zarrella shows us how that was done.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bullet-proof glass case sits empty. For more than two decades, until last Wednesday, it housed this gold bar. Visitors to the Mel Fisher Museum in Key West could touch it, lift it. But you couldn't remove it.

At least, that's what everyone thought.

MELISSA KENDRICK, MEL FISHER MARITIME MUSEUM: After your first five, and your next ten, and when you get to 25 years, you start to get to the point where you think this is never going to happen.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): It did. The surveillance video is remarkably clear. One of two thieves approaches the case, does something, then walks away. While the security guard is out of the room, he comes back, removes the bar, sticks it in his pocket, and walks out.

ZARRELLA (on camera): Authorities think the thieves may have been targeting this gold chain, but couldn't get the case off, so they came over here. Now this is three-eights inch bullet-proof Lexan glass. But somehow, the thief was literally able to snap the glass here, at the weak points.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): In 1980, while searching for the wreck of the Spanish galleon Atocha, Mel Fisher and his team of treasure hunters found the Santa Margarita. Both ships had gone down in a hurricane off Key West, 1622. The bar is one of dozens the divers found.

ZARRELLA (on camera): Pretty frustrating, that you haven't had the kind of leads you thought you would have?

DONIE LEE, CHIEF, KEY WEST POLICE: No, I thought by now we'd have this one solved.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Even with the video and fingerprints, Key West police chief Donie Lee says they've got very little concrete.

LEE: This is going to end up in somebody's house, probably, used as a paperweight. Other than melting it down, which is the worst case scenario for everyone.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Experts in the recovery of art and artifacts say the thieves likely made a huge mistake. The market is small for high- profile items with distinguishing markings. Robert Wittman headed the FBI's Art Crime Team and wrote the book, "Priceless."

ROBERT WITTMAN, FORMER FBI ART CRIME TEAM: We recovered paintings and artifacts that had been missing for many years, 10, 12, 15, sometimes 20 years. And it's because the thieves never could get rid of them. They basically kept them in their closets. They were white elephants. They made no money out of the deals. They just -- they were stuck.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Experts say if these thieves had any brains, the smart thing to do, return the gold they fingered. John Zarrella, CNN, Key West, Florida.


ANDERSON: Artifacts and art are always a popular target for thieves. Just last weekend, a Van Gogh painting, said to be worth $50 million, was stolen from a museum in Egypt. Police nabbed the suspected thieves, but investigators are still looking for the paintings.

Now, in May, you may remember, five paintings, including a Matisse and a Picasso, were the target of a heist in Paris. Police are still searching for the artworks, worth at least $123 million. Well, I seem to be wandering around the pairs -- screen, there. I'm sorry about that.

In 2008, thieves stole four impressionist masterpieces in Zurich. The paintings by Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, and Cezanne were valued at more than $160 million. And Edvard Munch, "The Scream," has been stolen twice, most recently in 2004. It was eventually recovered and is on display once again, thankfully, in Oslo.

OK, so say I've pulled off a daring art heist, made off with a haul? What do I do next? Well, luckily I'm joined by a man who can give me some answers. Julian Radcliffe is the chairman of the Art Loss Register, and thank you for coming in today. We very much appreciate it.

So I've nicked that bullion. What would I do with it?

JULIAN RADCLIFFE, CHAIRMAN, ART LOSS REGISTER: You could try and negotiate a ransom, which is quite a risky thing to do, because of the handover and trying to get the money.

Or more likely, the first thing you want to do is get rid of it yourself onto some form of fence, somebody who is going to sell it for you. He would probably have to sit on it for a long period of time to be secure in a sale, and he's more likely, actually, to melt it down.

ANDERSON: What is the recovery rate, then, like with something like a bar of gold.

RADCLIFFE: For silver, gold, and jewelry, the recovery rate is very low. I'm afraid it's under one percent.

ANDERSON: Is -- sorry, is there a sort of got-to-know character that we see in the movies and read in the books, who's sitting there commissioning theft, as it were. "I want this, I want this, and I want this" from around the world, and it all comes to him.

RADCLIFFE: It doesn't exist. Out of 2,000 recoveries we've done, there are only two which weren't done entirely for criminal quick money. And one of those was a kleptomaniac, and the other just wanted revenge. So this man, this doctor, does not exist.

ANDERSON: So you say criminal or financial gain, I think. When we talk about criminals, who are we talking about? What sort of gangs are we talking about? Do we know?

RADCLIFFE: Yes, we do know. Most of the gangs who do these thefts don't specialize purely in art. They will take whatever form of crime gives them the highest return for the lowest risk. They're just like businessmen, from that point of view, but they're in crime.

ANDERSON: We talked about and listed some of the biggest heists, as it were, the most well-known pieces of art that have gone on the run, as it were, from museums around the world. Your organization proudly boasts it's been involved in the recovery of some 300-odd million dollars of artwork, which is great. How wonderful that we get this stuff back.

That, though, surely is a drop in the ocean when you get -- one Monet, and you're 230 million down from museums. How much is $300 million, really, in the big context.

RADCLIFFE: It's not enough, you're right. It's $300 million we've done over 20 years. So it's $10 million a year, say, or a bit more. That is a drop in the ocean compared to, A. what's on our database. We have 250,000 items on the database.

ANDERSON: That are missing at the moment?

RADCLIFFE: That we're looking for.


RADCLIFFE: And we search 400 to 500,000 items a year going through the sale rooms. And we only recover hundreds a year, not thousands. If the whole of the art trade searched everything they've bought and sold, the recovery would go from 10 percent to 60 percent.

ANDERSON: Why don't they, then?

RADCLIFFE: Because until recently, due diligence, i.e. having to search to show that you weren't just good in the mind, but you were good in action, has not been required by law. Now, it increasingly is. So if they buy something that's stolen and they haven't searched with us, they could end up in jail.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. It is the stuff that movies are made of, isn't it? Really.



ANDERSON: Good stuff. We thank you very much, Julian, for coming in.

Happy birthday Connector of the Day. All this week, we are celebrating and bringing back the guests that you want to hear from once again. We're a year old. Up next, the third most popular Connector on our website from 2010. A woman who helps bridge the gap between big business and humanitarian aid. That is coming up here on CNN, do stay with us.



ANDERSON (voice-over): Poverty in the developing world. How do you help so many who have so little? Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen Fund, has a unique perspective. She believes in a type of humanitarian aid that targets poverty through investment.

JACQUELINE NOVOGRATZ, FOUNDER, ACUMEN FUND: I'm really focused on the power of finance to actually bring us a kind of discipline to creating companies that look at low income people as agents of change, rather than as passive recipients of charity.

ANDERSON (voice-over): After leaving Wall Street, Novogratz created the Acumen Fund in 2001. It's a venture capital fund that uses small investments to fund enterprises that support the poor. She sees it as a way of empowering communities and drawing them out of poverty.

The fund has raised more than $30 million, and boasts contributions from the likes of Bill Gates and Google. Taking one of the great challenges of our time, Jacqueline Novogratz is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: Yes, she is. Now the Connector of the Day celebrating its first birthday. Sitting in the hot seat answering your questions, we've have everyone from the Bills, that's Clinton and Gates, to global pop sensations like Shakira. And they have grabbed your attention online.

In third place, a video with 24,000 hits is Jacqueline Novogratz. The CEO of the Acumen Fund began by helping local communities in Rwanda, as you heard. When I spoke to her earlier this year, I asked her how that work had informed the development of the Acumen Fund. And just to note, the broadband connection when we spoke to her from New York wasn't the best, but she is one of your favorites, so we wanted to rerun that interview for you.


NOVOGRATZ: I started the first micro finance bank in Rwanda back in 1986, saw the power of the market, but also the limitation of the market. And on the other side, saw the limitation of charity and aid and thought, there has to be a better way, a third way, which we call patient capital. And that was really the beginning of the Acumen Fund.

ANDERSON: Jean-Michel Ferat says, "How do you address at the Fund the risks of fraud and corruption to ensure that the program funds are used for their intended purposes?" This is a very good question.

NOVOGRATZ: It's a great question. Always, whether you're in business or whether you're with non-profits, the most important is really evaluating the integrity of the entrepreneur. We spend a lot of time in due diligence, understanding who that entrepreneur is, what her or his value system is. And understanding the business model. Recognizing that we do make loans, and we expect to get the money back. Or investments.

There, obviously, are cases where we find problems. Hopefully, we find those during the due diligence process. And then we don't invest. And if we do find a problem after we've invested, we exit, which we've done in a couple of cases.

ANDERSON: Patrick Gage writes in. He says, "Government to government aid doesn't work, but private sector aid is very effective. What is your response to that?"

NOVOGRATZ: I think there are no black and white answers when it comes to making real change in the world. There are cases where government to government aid actually has worked. Look at the eradication of small pox, and the eradication of polio. These are really top-down solutions that require government to government support and aid.

I think that the more interesting question is whether there's a way to restructure the way the government and private sector work together so that you can create more enabling environments, where governments focus on issues like corruption and transparency and law and infrastructure that allow markets to work more effectively. And that's really the area where Acumen is trying to make it smart.

ANDERSON: Gonsalves asks a very good question. He says, "What is the average percentage that goes into the administration of Acumen?"

NOVOGRATZ: We don't take money and then look at administrative cost to give clean water to a low income person. So the overall cost of doing it is as miniscule in terms of the ultimate money invested and the ultimate impact raised.

ANDERSON: What do you get out of this?

NOVOGRATZ: I think the most joyful, purpose-driven life. To look around at the people who are supporting this work, to go to a city like Bombay, which a few years ago, really had a completely broken ambulance system, where 90 percent of the people in the ambulances were dead. People would call an ambulance to see -- when someone died and they wanted to go to the morgue.

To see a company like 1298 come up with a new innovation, a new model, for delivering services in an uncorrupt way that enable the poor as well as the wealthy to access it, and to see that company over the last few years sigh government contracts to $80 million and build -- which will now allow a thousand ambulances to reach a million people.

Unbelievable sense of satisfaction. I think it's something that I can't imagine doing any other kind of work, and I think it's just the most interesting work on the planet.


ANDERSON: Wasn't a great connection, was it? But she was a great Connector, and do be sure to tune in tomorrow when we'll hear from the Connector in second place on the website, with 26,000 hits, this guest got a lot of you clicking. So that's tomorrow night, Thursday.

Fifty-five minutes past the hour here in London. We'll be right back.


ANDERSON: All right, 56 minutes past the hour. We've got three or four minutes left. Food glorious food as we go Through the Lens tonight. First up, the world's largest tomato fight. Tens of thousands of people take part in what is called the Annual Tomatina Festival in the Spanish town of Brunol. Revelers pelted each other with some 100 tons of tomatoes.

Next up, 6,000 kilograms. That's how much cheese this Alpine dairy in Germany produces every summer.

Getting ready for a Ramadan feast, this Palestinian baker in the West Bank prepares to bake some flat bread in his traditional stove.

And finally, it seems you can have your a -- you can have your cake and eat it. Tana the hippopotamus tucks into her birthday cake at the Opel-Zoo in Germany. What's the cake, and what's in it? Apparently, salad carrots and concentrated feed.

Food in all shapes and forms in our World in Pictures for you this evening.

Before we go, let's take a look at what you've been saying about one of our top stories on the web and on the television. This humanitarian crisis in Pakistan, of course, been going on for some time. Kcy1907 says, "I'm not helping people who hate me and wish me harm. It's that simple."

Tonycjl writes, "When Pakistan can build nuclear bombs, it stands to reason that they should also be able to spend a fraction of that money on the welfare of their people."

Another one, PAR555 says, "You may give money, but you will not sleep at night, because this money will not reach or benefit the people who are suffering. Their current and past leaders keep teaching us this lesson."

Somebody called donnkle comments, "Change your leaders and your politics and you will receive compassion from the rest of the world."

And conservatory tonight says, "Regardless of religion or politics, this flood and its ongoing effects diminishes each one of us who can and do not give. Pakistan needs our help now and in the future."

All right. Keep those coming into us. A lot of responses tonight as well about our special on the kids throughout the world condemned as witches. Just a few of those coming into us. Here's one commentator who writes, "It is incredible how so much of this world still lives in the dark ages."

An anonymous person says, "Educate, educate, educate. When society does not demand free education for all, these things happen."

Andrew547 says, "What a terrible story. I was tempted to think of this as isolated to different people on a different continent until I remembered our own witchcraft in the 1600s. It's not possible to condemn an entire culture when your own culture did the same thing at an earlier phase of its development."

Andrew, referring to a report we had out of Nigeria, also remembering that we had a report out of the UK on child witches and the abuse tonight.

Get your voice heard on CNN. Head to the website at And just a couple of tweets for you on that subject. Monkish1978 (ph), "Ms. Anderson, it is a shame that we live in this day and age where a child can be called a witch still."

And Bjblaze05 (ph) tweeting me @beckycnn says, "People who subject the children who subject the children to this are cowards and inhumane. Culture should not be blamed. The individuals should."

I'm Becky Anderson, that is your world connected. "BackStory" up next.