‘Black Jesus’ Stephen Tari hacked to death in PNG

A convicted Papua New Guinea preacher, who called himself “Black Jesus” and led a cannibal cult with some 6,000 members, has been hacked to death, a leading Australian daily reported Saturday.

Stephen Tari, 40, was killed by a mob in his village Thursday for murdering a local woman and attempting to kill another, the Sydney Morning Herald reported citing a senior police officer.

Provincial police chief Sylvester Kalaut said Friday that Tari had been attacked and killed with one of his followers at Gal, his home village near Madang province.

He had been on the run after joining a mass breakout last March while serving three years for rape and other crimes.

Tari, who called himself Black Jesus, was accused of raping, murdering and eating three girls in front of their mothers.

He had reportedly attracted 6,000 followers after he started converting followers in Madang province in 2006. His rapid popularity attracted media coverage.

But his cult also outraged some locals and many turned against him in 2007.
They beat him and handed him over to police. He was eventually convicted and jailed on rape charges.

The lurid details that emerged during the trial played into the old cannibal lore associated with opening of PNG to European interests in the 19th and early 20th century.

Described as charismatic leader who wore white robes and saw himself as a resurrected Jesus, Tari was also accused of regularly drinking the blood of his followers, who he called “flower girls”.

The court heard he lured them to his hut where he cut their throats.

Tari’s breakout from Beon jail outside Madang last year, alongside 47 other inmates, attracted widespread attention.

Police had been unable to locate him, partly because he fled to the protection of his home village.

But his return to old habits alienated local support.