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 attack (2015 case)

In Malawi, attacking, mutilating and killing persons with albinism is rampant. Body parts of albinos are mistakenly believed to bring power and wealth. Not a year passes without one or more reports of these heinous crimes. The following example merely illustrates this and definitely is no exception. 

In November 2015 three men attacked a 17-year old boy with albinism, Alfred Chikalo, and nearly killed him with the intention to sell his body parts. It was not the only case of attacks on people with albinism in 2015. Police in Phalombe district arrested the three culprits who confessed hacking Alfred Chikalo. A few weeks later, Police in Phalombe district arrested a 29-year old man, Lawo Sambani, who was accused of being the mastermind behind the plot to attack the 17-year old boy. The victim sustained deep stab wounds in the head, both arms and on the upper part of his left leg. He was rushed to the hospital and discharged a couple of weeks later.

It was announced that the four men in police custody will be brought to court. Unfortunately, since their detention, nothing is known about their trial. To be continued. (FVDK)

More details in the following articles (warning: the original articles contain a graphic picture showing the victim):

Albino attack: three arrested and confess hacking 17-year-old boy
Published: December 8, 2015
By: Maurice Nkawihe – Nyasa Times

and

Mastermind of Albino attack arrested – Malawi Police
Published: December 15, 2015
By: Maurice Nkawihe – Nyasa Times

Phalombe district – Malawi

Roadblock movie tells true story of Malawi albino killings

Published: February 22, 2019
By: Harold Kapindu 

Inspired by real life events, “The Roadblock” is a creative movie depicting the story of Joseph, a humble, genius young boy with albinism.

A Restoration Films production, powered by Magic Promotions, “The Roadblock” is set for release at the end of February, 2019.

Played by Smith Kanono, one Monday morning Joseph returned from school upon seeing suspicious men coupled with a bad dream the previous night although his mother forced him to go back.

However, Joseph did not make it back home. He was killed by unknown men and after the funeral ceremony, the suspects were apprehended at the Roadblock for being found in possession of human bones. They all got sentenced.

Commenting on the movie, Magic Promotions Co-founder Chris Loka condemned the killing of people with albinism, describing the acts as “barbaric”.

“As Magic promotions, we thought it is wise to partner with Restoration films in condemning the barbaric act of killing people with albinism. They are our sisters and brothers therefore we need to protect them at any cost. It is unfortunate that they should be living in fear, and apart from that, as stipulated in the Constitution of Malawi (section 16), they have right to life,” Loka explained.

He added that the acts are uncalled for, saying people with albinism should have peace.

Loka quarried: “This is their country. Where do we think they can go and find peace? Obviously, its nowhere! Let them find comfort here. People with albinism form part of our audience when we have events. They give us support. It is therefore inhumane to be killing our supporters and audience.”

In his remarks, Restoration films Director Alex Standy said: “People think to be patriotic is only by voting or involve yourself in politics but that is not the case. We also need to be concerned with issues of national concern.”

He further added that he believes people will learn something from the film.

Written and directed by Alex Standy, “The Roadblock” was shot by Bonface Kawinga and Paul Pascal.

The movie stars Bololo (Lovemore Muluwira), Jentele (Happy Matenda) as the men dealing with bones business, Joseph (Smith Kanono) as the murdered boy with albinism and Mrs Iness Standy Katendema as class teacher at Kawale Secondary School.

Loka (second from right) with others involved in the movie
The Road block movie

Source: Malawi: Roadblock Movie Tells True Story of Malawi Albino Killings

Read the original article on Nyasa Times