Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.
Rumours of penis theft spread quickly, and dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.
"I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke. But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent.
"To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it?'"
Some Kinshasa residents accuse a separatist sect from nearbyprovince of being behind the witchcraft in revenge for a recent government crackdown on its members.
Now, obviously, a penis is a valuable item in many people's lives. When it's not being used to please a woman, a penis can also help a man go to the loo, write his name in snow, and provide a handy little ledge to rest his iPod on, on long plane journeys. So, since reading about the panic in the Congo, I have been careful not to leave my penis unattended in a public place.
On a more serious scientific note, though, I wonder if this is an example of the placebo effect? We know that doctors can make people feel better by giving them medicines that don't have any active ingredients. Maybe the sorcerers in the Congo have been able to persuade people that their penises have dropped off or withered away by using similar techniques?