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: ‘Buleya unnatural death’ – Preliminary autopsy on albino kidnap suspect vindicates many

Buleya Luke, the suspect in the abduction of the albino boy in Dedza, died in police custody raising suspicion his sudden death was unnatural. 

Published: February 23, 2019
By: AllAfrica.com 

Reservations by a majority of Malawians that Buleya Lule– a suspect who allegedly offered to ‘buy’ a 14-year-old Dedza boy with albinism for K800 000 last week and died in police custody Thursday–did not succumb to natural death have been vindicated by results of a preliminary autopsy which indicates foul play.

An autoposy report filed by South African Jorge Kirk revealed Buleya sustained 3 main injuries which caused his death.

Kirk was assisted by local histopathologists Charles Dzamalala and Tamiwe Tomika.

Charles Dzamalala

According to their report, a head injury caused by hitting pressure from a cyclindrical metal rod was experienced.

“Bleeding in the brain was observed,” the experts say in the report. “A tummy side injury was caused by electrocution.”

The electrocution is singled out as the cause of Buleya’s death.

“Injuries on buttocks is yet to be analysed,” the experts say.

Nyasa Times has learnt that the samples are expected to be flown to South Africa where comprehensive analysis is going to continue; where, after two weeks a final report will be released for action

DNA samples have been taken for further investigations on suspects who killed him in the police cell, we have also learnt

Sainess Kalekeni, step-father of missing 14-year-old Goodson Makanjira told court, that Buleya tricked them into surrendering the boy to him with an offer of K800 000.

“I was enticed by a promise that I would get K800 000. I was told that a market is already there and I would get the money instantly which is not the case,” Kalekeni said on Wednesday, before Lilongwe Principal Magistrate Viva Nyimba.

But before Buleya and others could return to court Friday to answer the case of ‘abduction with intent to murder’, he died Thursday in enigmatic circumstances.

Calls were rife through various platforms, heightened by the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) lawyer Khwima Nchizi who sought an injuction restraining anyone from burying Buleya’s body until an independent autopsy was done.

Nchizi had argued that letting the body go without the exercise would mean “losing useful information” that would lead to busting the market for albino body parts.

Meanwhile, APAM says it will proceed with a three day vigil at Kamuzu Palace from March 3 to press the government step up security for people with albinism.

Read the original article on Nyasa Times 

Source: Malawi: ‘Buleya Unnatural Death’ – Preliminary Autopsy On Albino Kidnap Suspect Vindicates Many
PS The above link will be available to subscribers only after a couple of months.

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.

Malawi: Albino abduction suspect dies in custody

People with albinism are attacked by those who belief they can use their body parts in witchcraft spells

Published: February 18-21, 2019
By: BBC

A key suspect in the abduction of a 14-year-old boy with albinism has died in police custody in Malawi.

Luka Buleya was reported dead this morning after a brief court appearance in the capital Lilongwe yesterday. 

Mr Buleya’s nephew, Samson Bulaki, said the family were suspicious about his death and showed the BBC pictures of his body with multiple burns.

Police said they were waiting for the post-mortem before they discussed the cause of death. 

Mr Buleya had been accused of ordering two people to kidnap the boy last week in the central region district of Dedza, some 100km south of Lilongwe.

The Association of Persons with Albinism head, Overstone Kondowe, said he hoped Mr Buleya’s death would not deny the nation an opportunity to unmask a syndicate and provide leads to a market for body parts.

Killings and abductions of persons with albinism have become a huge problem in Malawi.

Persons with albinism are hunted and killed or have limbs chopped off by people who use them for making charms they believe can make people rich or bring them good luck.

The 14-year-old boy’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Source: Albino abduction suspect dies in custody

Related article:
Suspect In Albino Abduction Dies In Custody
Published: February 21, 13:52
By: Online journalist – Andrew Viano – Zodiak Online 

Lule – Pic courtesy of social media

One of the key suspects who answering charges in the abduction of a 14 year boy with albinism in Dedza has died.  Police say Buleya Lule, 44, was unwell and was rushed to Kamuzu Central Hospital where he died Wednesday evening but his family relations have told Zodiak online he has been “killed” in police cell.

“our relative was well when he left court Yesterday, [Wednesday] what happened during the night?” Wondered Lule’s Sister Annie Lule. “The police have killed him” She added in tears.

Buleya’s nephew Samson corroborated Annie’s version saying he was at the area 3 police when his uncle was moved on a stretcher from the cell into a police van heading to the hospital.

“I was at the court and he was very well, later in the evening when I went to give him food I was told I can’t see him, I insisted and while waited it was when I saw him taken to hospital.

Samson says he saw his uncle with burns on the thighs “like he was scotched with hot water” he said.

Public Relations Officer for Lilongwe Police, Kingsley Dandaula could neither confirm nor deny the assault allegations saying they will wait for a postmortem.

 “When the suspect was reported unwell, we rushed him to Kamuzu Central where he passed on. We are yet get a postmortem report on what has killed him” says Dandaula.

At the court on Wednesday, another suspect in the case Kumbilani Patson who is Goodson Makanjira’s step dad told the court Mr. Lule offered him 800 000 kwacha for the boy.

Dandaula complained that following the death of Lule the police might have lost information relevant to the investigation.

(By Andrew Viano)

Other related article:
Breaking: Key suspect in abduction of child with albinism dies in Malawi police custody
Published: February 21, 2019
By: KONDWANI MKHALIPI-MANYUNGWA

Buleya Luke, the suspect said to have have hired and paid people to abduct a 14 year-old boy with albinism, Goodson Makanjira, has died while in police custody.

According to information that this publication has gathered, Buleya Luke was arrested following a confession by Goodson’s step father, Sainess Kalekeni, and an accomplice, Kambiloni Patson. He is said to have died mysteriously while in police custody where he was awaiting trial.

Kalekeni and Patson pleaded guilty to the charges of abducting the young child with albinism. They said Luke had promised to give them K800 000.

Buleya has died mysteriously

“I was enticed by a promise that I would get K800 000. I was told that a market is already there and I would get the money instantly which is not the case,” the stepfather said on Wednesday.

The boy who was abducted from his house over a week ago is still missing and the two suspects told the court they do not know whether Goodson was alive or not. But confessed that Goodson was still alive when he was handed over to the Luke.

“My job was simply to get Goodson and hand him over to Buleya. I would not know whether he is alive or not,” said Kalekeni.

The innocent child was abducted in the area of chief Chilikumwendo’s area in Dedza on February 13.

This year, at least five cases of attacks against persons with albinism have been recorded in the country. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK)

Meanwhile, APAM plans to hold vigils at Kamuzu Palace to pressurise President Peter Mutharika to attack action against the attacks.

According to the association, participants in the vigil will congregate at Lilongwe Community Centre Ground and thereafter march to Kamuzu Palace where they will deliver a petition to President Peter Mutharika.

After handing over the petition, the protesters will remain at Kamuzu Palace where they will hold a vigil for three days.

But Homeland Security minister Nicholas Dausi said the attacks on people with albinism in Malawi have not yet reached crisis levels. This is despite the United Nations declaring that the genocide currently underway in Malawi has left people with albinism at the risk of extinction.

Remarks by the Homeland Security Minister has forced the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi to withdraw its membership from the presidential task force on people with albinism.

The Police are yet to comment on the mysterious death of Buleya Luke. His death has cast a dark shadow on the whereabouts of the missing 14 year old child.

Meanwhile, Malawians have reacted with horror and shock to the news of Luke’s death.

“Now i am scared more than ever. Shocking😢😢😢” wrote Louis Makungwa on Facebook.

Others have alleged that Dausi’s remarks were foretelling of what would before the suspect, saying government is protecting people behind the abductions and killings of people with albinism.

Joseph Kanyunya Moyo commenting on our Facebook, had this to say on Buleya’s death: “It’s the weakness of DPP government. How can this happen swiftly and within a short period of time. The government doesn’t want information to be revealed. This was a person who should have been protected and care for owing to the fact that revelations regarding these barbaric acts on people with albinism will be made. Poor govt.”

Other related article:
Albino murder suspect “Buleya” found dead in police custody
Published: February 21, 2019
by: Face of Malawi – Ndi Kelvin Chaguza

A man who was suspected to have had a hand in the abduction of an albino person in Dedza has been found dead in police cell today, police have confirmed.

Luke Buleya was nabbed together with other five suspects in connection to the missing of 14-year-old Goodson Makanjira who went missing some weeks ago.

Yesterday, Buleya was brought before Lilongwe Magistrate Court where he appeared as if he was having some seizures but many thought he was only faking.

Two other suspects told Lilongwe Magistrate Court that Buleya offered them a sum of K800, 000 hence the abduction of the young albino boy.

The death of Buleya is therefore a big blow to justice on albino killings as it was expected that he could have been the one to reveal where body parts of albinos are being sold.

Buleya and five other suspects including the step father of the victim are facing charges of abducting in order to murder contrary to Section 261 of the Penal Code and unlawful wounding contrary to Section 24 of the Penal Code.

Meanwhile, police spokesperson James Kadzadzera said police will give more details on what has led to the death of Buleya.

Other related article:
Key suspect in abduction of albino teenboy dies in Malawi police custody: Buleya was fit and well
Published: February 21, 2019
By: Nyasa Times

Six people with albinism will stand for election to fight stigma in Malawi

Candidates hope to combat sharp rise in killings of people with albinism, whose body parts are used in ritual practices

Published on June 26, 2018
By Charles Pensulo
The Guardian

Cassim Jaffalie, three, with his friends at his family home in Machinga, southern Malawi. His father has given up work to protect his son. Photograph: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Being born with albinism can be a death sentence in Malawi. With 22 recorded murders in the past four years, dozens more people have been reported missing – suspected abducted and killed.

Now an association of people with albinism in Malawi has announced it will put forward six candidates for next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections, in an unprecedented move to combat stigma.

Malawi is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for people living with albinism – a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes – who are targeted so that their body parts can be used in magic potions and other ritual practices.

The unprecedented rise in ritual and witchcraft-related killing for body parts that has also been documented in Tanzania and Burundi has led to the UN creating a special mandate to protect people with the genetic disorder.

Overstone Kondowe, director of the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi, said fielding political candidates would go a long way in changing how people with albinism were viewed in Malawi.

“We want to show the public that we are more than our skin,” he said.

Elizabeth Machinjiri is one of those planning to stand as a member of parliament in Blantyre. The director of a local charity, Disability Rights Movement, Machinjiri said her experience was key.

“What I have seen is that disability issues are ignored in the country,” she said. “In our parliament there are only one or two people that have a disability. I understand one will not even [stand in] the next election. We need to be represented. Other people may not understand the pain and hard things that we go through every day.”

Machinjiri said she would lobby for schools and hospitals to be disability-friendly.

“Mostly people choose [an MP] because they are rich. I am saying no, because that money is personal and cannot be used for developmental projects. Once elected, I will make sure that I present the voices and wishes of people living in my area and not only my views.”

Machinjiri said that stopping abductions of people living with albinism in the country will take huge political will. She may not find it easy to convince people, and still has to raise money to fund the campaign process.

“We need political commitment in fighting this,” she said, emphasising that attacks are becoming more commonplace. “People should know that I am standing for a reason. I won’t hide evil since I am a courageous person.”

Source: The Guardian, June 26, 2018

Catholic priest among 11 charged for killing man with albinism in Malawi

web_photo_priest_02052018

BY  ON

BLANTYRE, Malawi – A Catholic priest, police officer, and a medical officer are among 11 people facing charges for the murder of a man living with albinism in Malawi, police spokesman James Kadadzera said.

The latest murder of a man with albinism in Malawi – the 22nd in four years – has sparked calls for their killers to be executed to deter a wave of attacks in the poor southern African nation.

Police said the dismembered corpse of 22-year-old McDonald Masambuka was found buried in southern Malawi several weeks after he went missing in March.
Information minister Nicholas Dausi said international rights groups and donors were preventing the government from using the death penalty to deter such crimes in Malawi, where people with albinism are hunted down for their body parts.
“They are stopping us from enforcing capital punishment,” Dausi was quoted by local media as saying at Masambuka’s funeral last month. “Yet in their countries they execute murderers. Is this fair?”
Malawi is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for people with albinism – a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes – who are targeted so that their body parts can be used in magical potions and other ritual practices.
The United Nations’ top expert on albinism has said people with the condition risk “extinction” in Malawi due to relentless attacks fuelled by superstitions.
President Peter Mutharika has since said Malawi should have an “honest debate” about whether to apply the death sentence to those found guilty of murdering people with albinism.
Malawi suspended capital punishment more than 20 years ago as it embraced democratic reforms. Although the death penalty still exists in law, it has been declared unconstitutional.

Murders
But rights groups said the focus on the death penalty was misplaced and the government should step up its efforts to investigate unsolved murders and protect people with albinism.
“We never have any experience where the death penalty has been successful as a deterrent,” said Overstone Kondowe, head of the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), which helps about 3,400 people with the condition.
It has recorded 146 attacks in Malawi since 2014. About one in 20,000 people worldwide have the congenital disorder, with higher rates in sub-Saharan Africa.
Only five of 22 murders reported since 2014 are in court, said Kondowe, with 17 unsolved.
“We don’t have even have a suspect and nobody has been prosecuted,” he said of the 17 cases, adding that the police should reopen them now that they have better equipment.
“We didn’t have facilities of DNA testing to help with the investigation, so we’re seeking that because the current capacity can help to shed light on who was responsible.”
Rights groups called on the government to establish a commission of inquiry to find out who is behind the attacks, amid claims that they are organised by criminal gangs.
“There is a green light with the recent case where we have seen high profile people involved,” said Timothy Mtambo, who heads the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, a charity.
“We believe a good investigation can open up our windows as to who is behind the trade … We would be able to say we have unveiled the market and done (away) with the roots.”
Mtambo also echoed a UN’s call on the government to implement its own plan to strengthen protection measures, including buying sturdy locks for poor families at risk of attack, and for public education to eradicate superstitions.
“It should invest in preventative measures, not ‘curing’ the problem,” he said. “It needs to understand where we have people with albinism, which can help in drawing security plans. Currently, there is no proper programme.”

Reuters