A CHIEFTAINCY DISPUTE AND RITUAL MURDER IN ELMINA, GHANA, 1945–46

The Journal of African History (Volume 41, Issue 2, July 2000,  pp. 197-219)  contains a very interesting article on a chieftaincy dispute and ritual murder in the British colony of Gold Coast, 1945. I do not present the entire article here for copyright reasons. However, I found it relevant enough to include the abstract of the article here, also as a kind of appetizer. Interested readers are referred to the source.

Also see my September 14, 2019 posting (webmaster FVDK).

Author: ROGER GOCKING

Abstract:

Between 6.30 and 7.00 a.m. on Monday morning, 19 March 1945 the body of a young girl of ten was found on the beach a short distance from the town of Elmina at a popular bathing spot known as Akotobinsin. According to the coroner, she had been dead for between 24 and 48 hours. There was no water in her lungs or stomach which indicated that she had not died by drowning. Instead, her upper and lower lips, both cheeks, both eyes, her private parts and anus, and several elliptical pieces of skin from different parts of her body had been removed. Many of these wounds exposed large blood vessels and the coroner concluded that ‘death was due to shock and hemorrhage’.

She was identified as Ama Krakraba who had been missing since the evening of Saturday, 17 March. Her frantic mother had immediately suspected foul play and had confronted Kweku Ewusie, the Regent of the Edina State, who was later accused of having ‘enticed’ the young girl to the third floor of Bridge House, where he lived, ‘by the ruse of sending her out on an errand to buy tobacco’. There she had been murdered so that her body parts could be used to make ‘medicine’ to help the Regent’s faction win a court case that was critical for their political standing in Elmina.

On the 24 March, after a preliminary investigation, the colony’s attorney-general brought charges of murder against Kweku Ewusie and four others from Elmina: Joe Smith, Herbert Krakue, Nana Appram Esson, alias Joseph Bracton Johnson, and Akodei Mensah. They were tried at the Accra Criminal Assizes from 16 May to 2 June, found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to be hanged.

The West African Court of Appeal turned down their appeal on 28 June 1945 as did the Privy Council on 14 January 1946. On 1 February 1946, Kweku Ewusie, Joe Smith and Herbert Krakue were hanged at James Fort in Accra, and on 2 February, J. B. Johnson and Akodei Mensah met the same fate.

Source: A CHIEFTAINCY DISPUTE AND RITUAL MURDER IN ELMINA, GHANA, 1945–6

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

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Published: May 4, 2018
By: BRINKWIRE

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. (italics by the webmaster FVDK)“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.”

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

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