Malawi: killing of people with albinism continues

Published: March 4, 2019
By: Penelope Paliani-Kamanga – Southern Times

Blantyre –  Continued killings of people with albinism in Malawi has made the country unsure of to what to do with the population blaming each other and concerned persons calling on government and the police to seriously do something about it.

The confusion, which has left the country living in fear and on bended knees, comes at a time when 10 people with albinism were recently reported missing amid reports that they may have been abducted.  They have been reports of the abduction of a child in Karonga and recently of a teenager in Dedza.

Since November 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi has risen to 152 cases, including 25 murders and more than 10 people missing, according to Association of People with Albinism in Malawi. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK).

Discrimination against people with albinism has been a problem in the past in Malawi and experts had expressed concerned earlier this year that the violence could get worse with the coming May 21 election. Experts called on the government to redouble its efforts and implement all necessary measures to protect people with albinism.

The expected spike around election time is due to the false belief that ritual use of the body parts of people with albinism can bring good luck and political power. This might lead to torture, murder, discrimination and exclusion, including banishment from communities.

Main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, in a recent demand for action, has challenged President Peter Mutharika to put an end to killings and abductions of persons with albinism in the country.

He was speaking at a press conference last week in Lilongwe, following the abduction of a boy with albinism, Goodson Makanjira, 14, of Mphanyama village, traditional authority Chilikumwendo in Dedza.

Chakwera said Mutharika has executive powers to end this barbaric practice but was “sleeping on the job and being a coward”.

“I only have three words for the President; do your job! Stop being a coward and do your job. If you do not end these murders and abductions, you will leave a legacy that will haunt you for the rest of your life.”

Chakwera promised that once voted into power, he will end the abductions and killings within a month.

Chakwera said it was sad that the killings were continuing despite government launching the National Action Plan (NAP) last year to protect those living with albinism.

“I will keep fighting for the rights of our friends. My advice to the President is to act now, use his powers and don’t be afraid of the ‘buyers’, because I know they are there,” he said.

But State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani, in an interview, described Chakwera’s remarks as a threat to the rule of law and warned him against using the plight of people with albinism for political mileage.

In another demand  for action, president of Umodzi Party  (UP)  one of the parties in the race for the elections, Professor John Chisi, expressed dissatisfaction with the way police were handling albino abductions and killings.

Chisi, who said the situation was pathetic, demanded the resignation of the country’s Inspector General of Police Rodney Jose on the grounds that he had failed to protect people with albinism.

“This issue of albino killings is unacceptable. These are avoidable deaths. The police have failed us, as they have the National Intelligence Bureau but are doing nothing. The Inspector General of Police must conduct a press conference to let us know why they are failing to end the malpractice, if not, he and his people must resign,” said Chisi.

National Coordinator of the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Boniface Massah, said in a statement that the refusal to push forward with prosecuting suspects accused of attacking and killing people with albinism has left a persecuted minority on the edge.

Massah said in an interview the government’s failure to conclude cases demonstrated that “security has not improved”, leaving the estimated 10,000-strong community vulnerable and anxious. 

“We face a high risk of attack and we have seen government commitment in words, but not in action,” he said.

 In a desperate move to tackle this issue, two groups and some concerned citizens have petitioned Malawi’s Ombudsman, Martha Chizuma, to thoroughly investigate the country’s failure to protect persons with albinism.

Specifically APAM,  in its petition, wants the Ombudsman to direct President Mutharika to appoint a commission of inquiry and conduct a comprehensive research to trace and identify the alleged source of demand and supply for body parts of PWAs.

Further,  APAM also wants Mutharika to seek, as a matter of urgency, international support to conduct investigations, including specialist support for forensic testing and combating human trafficking, to bring perpetrators of these gross human rights abuses to justice.

The petition, signed by APAM  president Overstone Kondowe, shows that there are currently 165 cases against PWAs, including 36 concluded cases, 39 cases pending in courts, 79 under investigation and 12 cases closed due to lack of proper evidence.

On the other hand, Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (Fedoma) executive director Action Amos said his organisation was concerned that there was no breakthrough in tracing the root cause of the atrocities or markets.

Reads the Fedoma petition: “We are demanding that your office assists with pushing for an establishment of a commission of inquiry. The current technical committee is toothless and won’t bring us any results. We have development partners willing to support the commission of inquiry.

The European Union (EU) has also been one of the organistions that has asked government to do something about the abductions. EU Ambassador Sandra Paesen this week called for serious criminal investigations and coordination among countries to fight abductions and killings of people with albinism.

Paesen said finger pointing will not solve the vice which has left a dent on Malawi.

Albinism is a genetically inherited condition. It often results in the lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.

The attacks stem from a belief that body parts belonging to people with albinism contain magical powers.

Mutharika, who has of late been talking tough on atrocities against PWAs, has been blamed for simply making podium rants, with little being done on the ground to stop the vice.

The Malawi government launched a four-year National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism aimed at ending atrocities against persons with albinism, and improving their social welfare. Since 2014, at least 23 PWAs have been killed.

Source: Killing of people with albinism continues in Malawi

Malawi albino ritual murders: ‘Mafia syndicate defeating justice’

Published: February 24, 2019
By: Wongani Chiuta – Nyasa Times

HRDC (Human Rights Defenders Coalition) headperson Timothy Mtambo says the State has become a suspect in the abduction of people with albinism and killing them for ritual.

Mtambo: ‘Mafia syndicate in the corridors of power’

Mtambo’s comments in the press follows preliminary findings of an autopsy for the late Buleya Luke, a key suspect in the abduction of a 14-year old albino boy Goodson Makanjira in Dedza, that has revealed he was electrocuted, then hit with metal bars. 

Another suspect in the abduction of a 18-year old baby with albinism Eunice Nkhonjera, Donald Msafiri, 61, allegedly committed suicide a day after being interrogated by police in Karonga. 

Mtambo claimed the killing of people with albinism is a result of a leadership crisis facing the country.

“This madness is happening because of leadership failure from the Commander-in-Chief, Inspector General of Police and the Minister responsible for Homeland Security. This government is a big failure and we will hold them accountable, no matter what.”, Mtambo explained in comments reported by Nation on Sunday newspaper. 

The late suspect was alleged to have offered K800 000 to buy Goodson, who is still missing in Dedza. 

Lule has become the third suspect to die while on trial related to abduction of persons with albinism since 2015. All the three cases have the police involved. In 2015, another suspect charged in connection with abduction of a two-year old girl with albinism in Machinga died in the hands of the police after he allegedly jumped from a cruising police vehicle. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK).

A HRDC statement made available to Nyasa Times signed by Mtambo, said these deaths [of key suspects] smack of foul-play, adding, it is too tempting to conclude that there are powerful forces orchestrating them. 

“Firstly, we strongly believe that these deaths are mafia-like planned and executed just to frustrate investigations that would lead us to alleged markets and lords behind these heinous crimes. 

“Secondly, we at HRDC and indeed all well-meaning Malawians are tempted to think that those that we have entrusted with the responsibility of bringing the perpetrators of these inhumane acts are deliberately failing to do their job,” reads the statement. 

The government is under fire for not doing enough to protect people with albinism as cases of attacks and killings continue to rise since 2014. 

Amnesty International (AI) has since taken swipe at Homeland Security Minister Nicholas Dausi for insinuating that attacks on persons with albinism (PWA) were not yet at crisis level.

AI, a global movement of more than seven million people in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end abuses of human rights, said in a statement Thursday that the ‘shameful denial comments’ are fuelling attacks against persons with albinism. 

During a news conference in Lilongwe on Tuesday, Dausi is on record to have said that the attacks on persons with albinism were yet to get to levels where they should hold vigils at State House or seek asylum in other countries. 

In the Thursday statement, AI deputy director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said remarks by Dausi will only embolden those perpetrating the assaults and are a disturbing reminder of the government’s inaction on the issue. 

She said: “The latest comments from Minister Nicholas Dausi are yet another indication that persons with albinism in Malawi are on their own when it comes to their safety and security.”

Mwananyanda has since urged the government to promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate the recent attacks against persons with albinism and ensure that suspected perpetrators are brought to justice. 

Source: HRDC says State a suspect in Malawi albino ritual murders. ‘Mafia syndicate defeating justice.’

Malawi: Police accused of killing albino murder suspect in cell – Luke family says ‘Its ploy to protect Biggie’

Warning: The article reproduced here contains at its end a graphic picture and video. Readers are warned that if they continue they run the risk of being confronted with the result of torture. 

Rumors can never replace the truth but I thought it useful to publish here the suspicion expressed by the sister of the deceased that the sudden death of her brother while in police custody was caused by the police in an attempt to hide the identity of ‘big shots’ who are involved in the atrocities committed including the mutilation and murder of people with albinism. It is not the first time that allegations are made that a syndicate is behind the disappearance and murdering of innocent people with albinism in Malawi.  See e.g. my posting dated January 21, 2019: Malawi: MP Kalindo threatens to reveal syndicate on albino ritual murders (Webmaster FVDK).

The suspect, Buleya Luke , who died while in police custody.

Published: February 22, 2019
By: Osman Faiti and Owen Khamula – Nyasa Times

Sister to a suspect believed to be the master minder in the abduction of a 14-year-old boy with albinism in Dedza has said the police have killed his brother in cell.

Anne Luke, sister to Buleya Luke whom the police said has died of “natural causes” whilst in police custody has doubted the police account.

“My brother never complained of any ailments. Even yesterday, when he appeared in court, he looked healthy. The police have killed him,” said Anne in tears.

She said the police never allowed the relatives to see him at Area 3 police station which she said might have been a sign that he was being tortured.

Cousin to the deceased suspect, Samson Black said the police refused his request to accompany his uncle to Kamuzu Central Hospital.

“They flatly told me I could not join them. He was half naked and it was as if his skin was peeled off by hot water,” said Black.

Luke was said to be the key suspect who recruited those who abducted Goodson Makanjira at a fee of K800 000 which he never honored.

He is said to have known the markets for the body parts of people with albinism.

Apparently, he was willing to reveal the “biggie” behind the albino killings.

The family suspect Luke has been killed to protect the “biggie” and the powerful syndicate behind the albino ritual murders from being exposed. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK).

Most of the suspects in albino killings either die under police custody or are reported to commit suicide in suspicious circumstance

Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) president Overstone Kondowe said he was suspicious with the police version whilst Lilongwe police spokesperson Kingsley Dandaula said people should wait for an autopsy report.

On Monday, European Union Ambassador Sandra Paesen called for serious criminal investigations and coordination among countries to fight abductions and killings of people with albinism.

According to Apam, since November 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi has risen to 152 cases, including 25 murders and more than 10 people missing. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK).

Warning: The following short video may shock people because of its graphic content. The video shows the victim. Click here to watch the video. The picture below (‘Death in police custody: Buleya Luke’) is a still from the video. 

Read the original article on Nyasa Times 

Source: Malawi: Police Accused of Killing Albino Murder Suspect in Cell – Luke Family Says ‘Its Ploy to Protect Biggie’
PS The above link will be available to subscribers only after a couple of months.

Guinea: moto taxi driver killed, his organs taken away

The following ritual murder case is not a recent one. It dates from 2014. The reason for reporting it here is to illustrate that also in the West African country of Guinea ritual killings occur. Remember, most cases are not reported or discovered. So this case may be just the tip of the iceberg….

The original article is in French, the official language in Guinea. The translation below is mine.

Published: February 4, 2014
By: © koaci.com – Nanita

Guinée : Un chauffeur de moto taxi tué et vidé de ses organes
Guinea: moto taxi driver killed, his organs taken away
Last Monday, the death of a moto-taxi driver whose body was found with several organs missing led to riots in Boké, a city 300 km north of the country’s capital Conakry. The confrontation between police and youngsters of Boké resulted in four severely injured persons and serious material damage.

It all started after the death was announced of a young moto taxi driver who was found dead in the bush, some 3 kilometers outside the city of Boké. His sexual organs and a finger were missing; blood stains were found on the body.

The protesters accused a rich businessman called “Soul” of having organized the ritualistic murder. They looted his shops and house but also shops of other traders. After the police intervened calm was restored. The authorities announced that a thorough investigation will start shortly.

Ritual murders followed by the ‘harvesting’ of organs are never solved in Guinea. The population denounces the indifference of the authorities and the corruption of the police and the legal system, but with no results.

Translated by the webmaster FVDK

Guinée- le 04 février 2014 © koaci.com – La mort d’un chauffeur de moto-taxi retrouvé amputé de plusieurs organes a provoqué lundi des émeutes dans la localité de Boké à plus de 300 km au Nord de Conakry.

Les heurts qui ont opposé les policiers aux jeunes de la localité de Boké ce lundi ont fait quatre blessés graves et de nombreux dégâts matériels.

Tout est parti de l’annonce de la mort d’un jeune chauffeur de moto-taxi retrouvé à plus de trois kilomètres de la ville en plein brousse. Le corps amputé de plusieurs organes, dont les organes génitaux et les doigts avec des traces de sang sur le reste du corps.

Les jeunes accusant un riche commerçant de la localité dénommé ”Soul” d’avoir orchestré cet assassinat à des fins mystiques, s’en sont pris à ses boutiques ainsi qu’à son domicile mais aussi à plusieurs magasins des commerçants de la ville.
Le calme est revenu dans la ville et dans les environs après une intervention musclée de la police. Une enquête serait ouverte pour élucider cette affaire selon les autorités.

En Guinée, les affaires d’assassinats suivis de vols d’organes ne sont jamais élucidées, la population décriant l’indifférence des autorités et la corruption des forces de l’ordre et de l’appareil judicaire.

Source: Guinée : Un chauffeur de moto taxi tué et vidé de ses organes

Malawi: man found with human bones of albino ‘killed last year’

It’s being estimated that between November 2014 and March 2017 at least 18 albinos have been murdered in Malawi. Since then, these atrocious ritualistic killings and attacks on people living with albinism have continued unabated – as has been demonstrated by the numerous cases reported and reproduced on this site. These ugly practices must stop, not only in Malawi but also in other sub-Saharan countries!

Malawian man found with human bones of albino ‘killed last year’ 

Published: March 18, 2017
By: News24Wire

Police in Malawi say investigations have revealed that human bones found with a man arrested in Lilongwe last week were those of a person with albinism, who died in Mchinji last year, a report says.

At least 18 albinos  have been killed across Malawi since November 2014.

According to Malawi 24, police spokesperson Kaitano Lubrino said that preliminary findings indicated that the recovered bones were those of an albino person Spiriano Felix who was buried on April 20 last year, but his grave was tampered and exhumed by unknown criminals on May 6.

Lubrino said that Felix’s lower legs and lower arms were found to had been chopped off from his corpse, thus, prompting the police to launch a manhunt.

The police spokesperson said that after the suspects were arrested last week, a forensic histopatholographic examined the bones to confirm the identity of the bones which had been found.

Amnesty International said last year that albinos in Malawi were being targeted in an “unprecedented wave of brutal attacks”. The rights group blamed police for failing to tackle a scourge fuelled by ritual practices.

At least 18 albinos – who have white skin because of a hereditary condition that causes an absence of pigmentation – have been killed across Malawi since November 2014, the group said at the time.

Source: Malawian man found with human bones of albino ‘killed last year’. Police

Why are albinos being murdered in South Africa?

Fortunately, I am not the only one worried or angry about the mutilating and murdering of people living with albinism in sub-Saharan Africa. We have people like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, the famous Ghanaian undercover reporter, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Overstone Kondowe, director of the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi, Richard Rooney in Swaziland, Kassim Kazungu, President of the organization Albinos without Borders in Burundi (‘Association Albinos sans Frontières de Burundi’) and – last but not least, the people running Under The Same Sun, an organization fighting for the rights of Persons with Albinism in Tanzania, headed by Peter Ash. And there is Tom Head.

I read his piece on ‘why albinos are being murdered in South Africa’ and immediately felt the need to share it with you, the reader of this blog on ritual killings in Africa. Tom Head is, according to his own writing, a 26-year old writer and English Teacher. ‘British by birth, South African by heart. His wife is definitely his better half. Known to follow rubbish sports teams. Writes mainly about current affairs, politics and sport.’ Unquote. Judge for yourself whether I took the right decision to include his article on this site. His article dates from the end of March, this year. Thanks Tom for your precious contribution!

A luta continua – the struggle continues!

Why are albinos being murdered in South Africa? 

TOPSHOT – An albino model wearing a creation waits to access a private lounge during the fashion show at the 2017 Durban July horse race in Durban, South Africa, on July 1, 2017.

Myth and superstition threaten the lives of one of society’s most marginalised groups.

Published: March 29, 2018
By: Tom Head

In 2018, it goes without saying that no-one should be fearful of their lives because of what skin colour they were born with. However, this is very much a reality for albinos in sub-Saharan Africa.

The UN state that people who live with albinism are treated “more like ghosts than humans”*, following years of ostracisation and a general lack of public understanding. Feeling marginalised by society is one thing. But being murdered because you’re different is a whole other, heartbreaking issue.

What causes albinism?

Albinism is hereditary. It doesn’t have to be passed on directly from an albino parent, but the mother or father must be a carrier of the gene for a child to inherit the condition.

When the human body fails to produce enough melanin, it affects the colourisation of the skin and its pigmentation. Around one in 20 000 people worldwide are albino.

Why are albinos murdered?

Their persecution is almost entirely based on myth and superstition. Witch doctors operating in southern Africa believe their body parts possess magical powers. Some think that possessing their limbs can ensure better health, and will bring good luck to the owner.

The idea is beyond ridiculous, but it is ultimately tragic. On the other side of the coin, some witch doctors also teach the idea that albinos are cursed. The crackpot theories range from the ideas that they are trapped spirits, to being the living souls of colonialist invaders.

Those living with albinism are also at risk of sexual assault and rape. The falsely-believed notion that having sex with an albino can cure HIV / AIDS is not a real scientific fact, but it is a real, terrifying threat.

Where is it most dangerous for albinos to live?

Malawi has reported “at least 18” murders of albino citizens since 2014. However, Tanzania is where the most murders occur, and that’s due to the sheer size of their albino population. It’s estimated around 7,000 people live with albinism in the country.

According to a UN report, nearly 80 albino Tanzanians have been killed since 2000. It’s reported that albino body parts can fetch “up to $75 000” on the black market.

Albinos killed in South Africa

Violence against albinos has never matched the same levels seen north of Mzansi. However, there have been some high profile cases in Mpumalanga this month that have forced South Africa to confront a horrifying reality.

A traditional healer who allegedly killed two children with albinism appeared in a Witbank court last month. Following that, the grave of an albino local was dug up in Pienaar near White River: His hands and right foot had been cut off.

Police in Mpumalanga have vowed to step up their attempts to protect the albino community. General Mondli Zuma stated this week that the “barbaric act” of dealing in body parts has to be stopped.

Misinformation and lies should never result in the death of a human being. But when they are systematically pedalled to target one specific community, something drastic has to change. Albinos can no longer be treated as ghosts, rather than people.

* – Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Source: Why are albinos being murdered in South Africa?

Brain harvested from murdered Mozambique albino boy

Published on September 16, 2017
By News24

The 17-year old albino boy was murdered on Wednesday in the Benga area of Tete province, Mozambique (picture not related to case).

Maputo – A 17-year-old albino boy was killed and his brain removed for what is believed to be use in witchcraft in Mozambique, local news reports said.

Albinos in Mozambique are often hunted for their body parts, which are used as charms and magical potions in the belief that they bring wealth and good luck.

“The criminals took the bones out of the arms and legs, the hair and broke the head to remove the brain,” a local official told Mozambican news agency AIM.

The body was found after the boy was killed on Wednesday in the Benga area of Tete province, AIM said.

Lurdes Ferreira, a police spokesman in the Tete province, said police are investigating the teenager’s kidnap and murder. “We have launched a search and arrest operation for those responsible for the macabre crime,” Ferreira said.

The murder comes four months after a failed attempt by two parents to sell their albino child in Moatize.

Tete, which borders Malawi, is believed to have a large market for albino organ trafficking.

There have been more than 100 attacks against albinos in Mozambique since 2014, according to the UN, with hunters persecuting them for everything from their toes to their faeces.

Source: News24, September 16, 2017

No room at Makuya court – South Africa

Part of the huge crowd that had gathered at the court premises, waiting for an opportunity to see the accused.

News Date: 03 May 2018
Written by: Elmon Tshikhudo

Hundreds of angry residents from Tshitavha and surrounding villages who had come to attend a ritual murder case were left disappointed as they could not be accommodated in the small court room.

This was during the appearance of the six accused in the ritual murder case of Ms Mercy Ndou. Ndou was ruthlessly murdered in 2014 and her body parts were harvested.

The Makuya Periodical Court can only accommodate about 30 people and court officials struggled to control the huge crowds that wanted to be allowed into the court. This led to a late start of the court proceedings. Only close family members were allowed to attend.

The accused, who were under heavy police guard, finally appeared in court. In a short sitting, the State indicated that it was not ready to proceed with the formal bail application as it still sought certain evidence in connection with the case and one remaining suspect still had to be arrested.

The defence argued that the State had advanced the same reasons when seeking a postponement last week. After some deliberations, the court ruled in favour of the State, saying it had advanced valid reasons for more time. The date of  9 May 2018 was given as a final postponement on which the formal bail application should be heard.

The six accused are Gerson Mathoho (52), Eric Khobo (30), Rhulani Shirindi (43), Shonisani Muruge (53), Khuthadzo Tshidino (28) and Azwinndini Ndou (42). They are charged with the ritual murder of Mercy Ndou, who was 33 years at the time of her death.

Some of the accused entering the Makuya Periodical Court on Wednesday.

Ndou, originally from Shayandima, disappeared in 2014 after telling her family she was visiting friends and that she would come back later to assist them in moving goods as they were moving to a new house at another location. That was the last time she was seen alive. Her body, with parts missing, was found in the bushes at Tshitavha.

A traditional healer, Vusiwana Baloyi, was arrested and later sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime. During his trial in 2016, Baloyi mentioned the names of the people who had participated in the killing. The police took almost two years to act on the information, and only three weeks ago they made a major breakthrough and arrested the six.

The six, two females and four males, made their first appearance in the Thohoyandou Magistrate’s Court a fortnight ago and their case was initially postponed to last Wednesday for the bail applications.

On Wednesday, hundreds of angry community members gathered at the court premises, hoping to gain entry to the court to get a glimpse of the accused. As they could not all be allowed in court, they peeped through windows, some even insulting the suspects, telling them they would not be released and that they would rot in jail. Some were urging the police to release them, so that they could be dealt with by the mob.

“We are tired of ritual murders in this area, and we know that there are still others roaming the streets. We are just happy that even those who were being protected are now behind bars and our prayer is that they be punished for their heinous crimes. They should be locked in jail forever,” said a resident who did not want to be identified.

The Reverend Jabulane Monegi, the Ndou family’s spokesperson, said the postponement suited them well. “We have faith in the justice system, and the fact that they are in custody gives us hope that the wheels of justice will move at their own speed and justice will be served at the end of the day,” he said.

Source: Zoutnet – News with an independent soul

https://www.zoutnet.co.za/articles/news/47037/2018-05-03/no-room-at-makuya-court

Tshitavha is located in Limpopo Province:
https://geographic.org/geographic_names/name.php?uni=-1873630&fid=5702&c=south_africa

South Africa – Provinces