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):
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’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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Published: February 3, 2019 By: Godfrey Kahango @TheCitizenTz email@example.com
Njombe. Another child, Rachael Malekela was found dead on Friday night at Matembwe Village in Njombe District as the spate of reported ‘ritual’ could killings and appearances continues to rock the area. More below.
Osun State Police command has paraded two suspected serial killers, Dauda Amusat and Kabiru Dudupariola, following their arrest on December 28, 2018, in Ifon.
The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fimihan Adeoye, alleged that the duo murdered a 42-year-old rice seller, Sanusi Isiaka, on May 14, 2017, near Slava Construction Company along Iwo Road, Osogbo and chopped off his head for ritual purpose.
The suspects alleged that another businessman, Yekini Ayinde aka Abija, currently at large, gave them the contract to kill the deceased and paid them N200,000 for the assignment.
Isiaka had supplied bags of rice to Abija, who didn’t want to pay for the goods after selling them, hence his contract to the suspects to kill him.
Recounting how they killed the rice seller, Amusat said: “When we got to the bush, Abija told the driver to stop and he gave us a sign. We quickly overpowered Isiaka and tied him with a rope.
Kabiru wanted to kill him with his gun but we later decided to use a knife to cut his throat. After killing him, I remembered that I needed a human head for money ritual and I quickly removed his head.
I was roasting the head and preparing other items needed for the ritual when some policemen came. I managed to escape that day. I ran away from Ifon but they eventually apprehended me on December 28, 2018.”
David Wroe wrote an astonishing article on child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), or Congo-Kinshasa, as it is also called (to distinguish it from its neigbour, Congo-Brazzaville). As the author describes, these youngsters ‘were tricked into fighting, forced to perform brutal rituals, and killed by the thousand in battle.’ Unfortunately, this is not unique for the DRC.
‘Meet the child soldiers who have helped fuel the world’s longest running conflict.’
We will not reproduce here the entire article, which is highly recommended literature, but will just focus on the phenomenon which is the focus of the current website: superstition, ritualistic killings and the absence of the rule of law.
Magic, murder and the lost boys of Congo’s long war
Published: December 23, 2018 By: David Wroe
At night, the boys of Congo’s children’s militia would take the heads of the soldiers they had killed and place them in a ritual circle around the campfire.
Then they would mock them.
Belittling the heads of their enemies made boys such as 15-year-old Victor* feel powerful and brave.
He was part of a group of youngsters who brought down a government soldier one night in March last year in the city of Kananga in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They let him shoot until his rifle ran out of bullets, then they charged him with machetes, sharpened sticks and garden hoes. Victor says he was given the job of cutting the dead soldier’s head off.
“The commander of the camp said I had caught someone who was very strong. And when we caught him he was no longer very strong and they started laughing at the soldier, saying, ‘Show us now how strong you are,’” Victor recalls.
What they did next cranked up their courage up to a frenzy.
The boys rolled the head into the embers of the “Tshiota”, the holy campfire. After the man’s skull had burned, the commander made Victor collect the ash, grind it into a fine powder and mix it with wine.
“Then they gave it to us to drink,” Victor says. “You become furious and can fight without fear. That is the way it was.”They call it “manga” – the magic that made them invincible.
Victor, whose name has been changed, is one of thousands of children recruited into militias that rose up in the southern DRC region of Kasai in 2016 against a corrupt, neglectful and repressive government.
In a region where families are large and poor, where the social fabric is threadbare and where government services barely exist, it is easy to convince or coerce children to join armed groups. Their recruitment is helped by a widespread belief that arcane rituals – sometimes involving cannibalism – confer magical powers that prevent their being harmed in battle.
KAYUNGA – Police in Naggalama has arrested four witchdoctors for alleged ritual killing.
A disappearance report of Mirembe Zuraika was filed at Naggalama Police Station on August 11 and Police mounted a search leading to the arrest of the witchdoctors.
The DPC Naggalama ASP Jessica Naawe confirmed that the relatives of Mirembe reported a case of the disappearance of their daughter and tipped off police that she had talked of having an appointment with a one Owen Sebuyungo, a 24-year-old witch doctor.
In his confession, Sebuyungo narrated that Mirembe visited his shrine for help since she had been possessed by evil spirits (empewo).
Sebuyungo then contacted his spiritual consultant a renowned witchdoctor Mohammed Wamala alias Bob who enticed him to murder Mirembe.
One of the suspects held over the vicious ritual murders is led to a cell at Naggalama Police Station (PML Daily PHOTO)
Wamala allegedly told Sebuyungo that he would amass lots of wealth if he could cut off the head of a female human being.
Following leads, police conducted further investigations leading to the arrest of a syndicate of witch doctors that are believed to have participated in the heinous act.
Upon thorough questioning, the four confessed to having welcomed Mirembe at the shrine and at dawn, beheaded her and buried the head in the shrine.
The suspects then led Police to the shrine where she had been buried.
Shockingly five bodies buried in a rather disturbing position were exhumed.
Wamala told Police he had ferried over eight females from his home in Ganda Nansana, murdered and buried them at this shrine located in Ntunda Kayunga.
Police has also recovered a number of items that include spears and pots filled with fresh blood suspected to be human blood.
Several bodies were exhumed by the Police at the shrine (PML Daily PHOTO)
Blood samples have been picked, taken to the Government Analytical Laboratory (GAL) while the recovered bodies that had decomposed beyond recognition have been taken to Mulago hospital for DNA test so that the relatives can identify them.
“The search is still going on. We suspect more bodies must still be buried under the remaining five shrines,” ASP Naawe said.
Police has since cordoned off the area as the search for more evidence continues in this strange murder case.
The four suspects identified as Junior Kibuuka, Fred Kiiza Semanda, Wamala Muhammed and Owen Sebuyungo are detained at Naggalama Police Station.
Police, CMI recover five bodies from Kayunga shrine, healer arrested
By Fred Muzaale
August 11, 2018
Police in Naggalama, Mukono District and operatives from Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) have arrested a traditional healer and also recovered five bodies from his shrine in Kisoga village, Nazigo sub-county, Kayunga District.
The Naggalama police division police commander, Ms Jesca Naawe, identified the suspect as a 27-year-old a renowned youthful traditional healer.
Ms Naawe explained on Saturday that the five bodies, one believed to be of a woman, and the rest of male adults, were dug from three shallow graves which were found in the suspect’s shrine.
Police find child skull in fresh search on shrines
By Fred Muzaale & Joseph Kato
August 14, 2018
Mr Owen Ssebuyungo (squatting) one of the suspects directs police during the search in Kayunga District yesterday. PHOTO BY FRED MUZAALE
Kayunga- Security operatives yesterday retrieved a skull of a child when they resumed a search at a witch-doctor’s shrine in Kisoga village, Nazigo Sub-county in Kayunga District where five human bodies were recovered last Saturday.
The main suspect, Mr Owen Ssebuyungo, 27, and three other witch doctors are being held in separate detention centres.
The five bodies, one being of a woman, were dug up by police assisted by residents at Ssebuyungo’s grass-thatched shrine.
The security team resumed the operation at around 2pm although it was interrupted by a downpour.
The residents and police from Kayunga and Naggalama police stations used hoes to dig up the entire compound, which had five shrines, as the suspects watched.
By press time, police had recovered a skull of a child at the shrines, but the excavation was still ongoing.
“We have come back to dig up the entire area because locals told investigators that they think there are still more bodies which were buried in the shrines,” Mr George Obia, Kayunga District Police Commander said.
Police have since Saturday maintained presence at Ssebuyungo’s shrine, which has been declared a scene of crime.
A house belonging to Ssebuyungo’s mother, standing a few metres from the shrines, looked deserted as she reportedly fled after her son’s arrest about a week ago.
Ssebuyungo, according to locals, lived with his wife in Kabimbiri town in the neighbouring Mukono District and only came to his shrines to attend to clients. His father Charles Ssonko, now deceased, was also a witch doctor.
The Local Council One chairman, Mr Bernard Ssekizira, said the discovery of human bodies at the shrine has left the residents in shock.
“Although we had heard rumours that Ssebuyungo was involved in suspicious acts of kidnapping people, we never took it seriously until Saturday when human bodies were discovered at his shrine,” Mr Ssekizira said.
He said the incident has tainted the image of their village, adding that people will start shunning the area.
He urged authorities to investigate activities of all witch-doctors in the area to arrest whoever is engaged in criminal acts.
Following the incident, Kayunga Deputy Resident District Commissioner Yahaya Were said they had stopped all activities of witch doctors in the district until the registered association of traditional healers goes to the district to verify the honest healers from the unscrupulous ones.
Residents in Mukono also told investigators that Ssebuyungo and his accomplices had another shrine in Kiwungi village in Ssi Sub-county, Buikwe District which they abandoned a year ago.
Police did not say whether they would also search the abandoned shrine.
Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said one of the suspects, Wamala, had revealed to police that he often took young girls from his Nansana shrine to Kayunga shrine for offering to the gods.
“We arrested Wamala and while in detention at Naggalama Police Station, he confessed that he ferried eight women to this shrine. At the shrine, we recovered four bodies, a human skull and pots containing blood-like liquids but we suspect there could be more bodies in this shrine,” Mr Owoyesigyire said.
He said police had not yet discovered the whereabouts of the said women but highly suspect they were murdered in ritual sacrifice within the shrine premises.
Last week police recovered the body of Allen Nakiyingi, a teacher in Kira Municipality in Wakiso District, buried in her lover’s house in Matugga town, in the same district.
She had gone missing for three weeks. The house in which Nakiyingi’s body was retrieved belonged to her boyfriend’s mother who is also a witch-doctor based in Kayunga District.
Confessed: Ssebuyungo told security that they sacrificed human beings to woo many clients to their shrine.
The bodies, which had decomposed beyond recognition, were retrieved from shallow graves and a Shs5,000 note was placed on each of them.
Spears and pots of blood, suspected to have been drawn from human beings, were recovered at the shrine and taken to the Government Analytical Laboratory for investigation.
The bodies were taken to Mulago Hospital for DNA testing.
Locals destroy house, crops of Kayunga witch doctor’s mother
By Fred Muzaale
August 15, 2018
Residents of Kisoga village demolish Owen Ssebuyungo’s house on Tuesday. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OTAGE
Kayunga- Angry residents of Kisoga village, Nazigo Sub-county on Tuesday morning destroyed a house belonging to the mother of Owen Ssebuyungo, a witch doctor and key suspect in the murder of six people whose bodies were retrieved from his shrine on Monday.
The area LC2 chairperson, Mr Mohammed Kagimu, on Tuesday said the angry residents stormed Margaret Ssonko’s home at around 5am after the police, which had maintained presence in the area since Saturday, had left.
“Given the anger residents had, there was no way they could spare his parents’ home and crops,” Mr Kagimu said.
After destroying the home, they pounced on her garden and destroyed crops such as coffee and bananas. By 9am on Tuesday, residents were still seen cutting down the crops.
Fleeing for safety
Ms Ssonko reportedly fled the area a week ago after her son was arrested by Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence officers.
Ssebuyungo, together with three other suspects; Juniro Kibuuka, Fred Kiiza Semanda and Muhammed Wamala, are detained at Naggalama Division Police Station, according to Ms Jesca Naawe, the district police commander.
The Kayunga District Police Commander, Mr George Obia, criticised the residents for taking the law into their own hands.
He said on Monday evening, the police used a grader to excavate suspected crime points since tools such as hoes and mattock could not do the work in a short time possible.
He said apart from the child’s skull and bones that were recovered on Monday, no other bodies were found.“Our investigators have now gone to Nansana to search Mohammed Wamala’s shrine,” Mr Obia said.
He, however, said investigations into the case have almost been concluded adding that the files would be taken to the resident state attorney today for perusal. “Most likely they will appear in court on Friday or latest on Monday,” he said.
Ms Naawe said the suspects will be transferred from Naggalama Police Station to Kayunga Police Station.
This incident has prompted the Resident District Commissioner Rose Birungi, who heads the district security committee to halt all activities of traditional healers in Kayunga district, located about 50 kilometres from Kampala.
Ritual killing is wrong. Suspected cases of ritual killing must be taken serious. But mob justice is absolutely not the right answer to react to a suspected case – or a real case – of ritual murder. Let the police do its work. Let the courts do their work. The judiciary system must deal with confessed or alleged murderers. The rule of law must be applied.
People have a right to live without fear – hence my exposure of ritual killings in Africa, hoping it will contribute to more awareness of this horrible phenomenon. I also plead for the rule of law: murderers must be prosecuted and they have a right to defend themselves, aided by a professional lawyer. Therefore, there is no place for mob justice.
Kenya: Evil spirits? Villagers stone to death suspected ritual killer in Meru
Published on February 21, 2018
By Darlington M. Manyara
Sheila Makena (6) and Justin Mwenda (7) were found dead. Villagers lynched the suspected ritual killer of the two pupils. [Photo: Courtesy]
Residents of Mweru location in Meru County yesterday lynched a man suspected to be behind the killing of two children.
The bodies of Sheila Makena, six, and Justin Mwenda, seven, both Standard One pupils at Machegene Primary School, were found last week.
Makena’s body was found on Thursday and Mwenda’s on Sunday. The bodies were discovered 30 metres apart.
Angry residents yesterday confronted the suspect, who allegedly confessed that he had killed the two children in search of blood.
Makena’s parents raised the alarm when their daughter failed to return home on the evening of February 15. Her body was discovered on the school farm by a watchman.
“The pupil was missing at about 1pm. When the class teacher checked the attendance register, she was not in class. Her class mates said she had gone to get mangoes from the school farm,” said Lucy Karani, deputy head teacher of the school.
The child’s neck was slit and her mutilated body lay in a pool of blood under a mango tree. According to Mwiru Location Chief Purity Mugambi, the body had parts missing.
“Her eyes were gouged out and her body was severely mutilated,” said Ms Mugambi.
Mwenda, the second victim, had been sent by his mother to fetch water from a nearby stream when he was stabbed to death. His mother, Varsity Karimi, said her three other children who were at the river with Mwenda, narrowly escaped death when they fled from the suspect.
The three later named the suspect, who was their cousin, leading to his lynching.
“My second born narrated to me how they almost died with their younger brother,” said Ms Karimi.
The children said the suspect threatened to stab them after appearing at the river where they were fetching water. As the three fled, he was left behind with Mwenda before the boy was found dead.
The family said they had been hosting the suspect after he fled from his home in nearby Gikurune. He is said to have fled after attacking his brother and torching his house.
“We knew he had a criminal record because he had attacked and injured his brother earlier. When he came here about three weeks ago, we accommodated him because he is the son of my late sister. We did not imagine he could murder his cousin, who seemed to be his favourite,” said the boy’s father, James Kimathi.
Villagers later accosted the suspect, who claimed he had been instructed to kill seven people and drink their blood.
Villagers said the suspect was possessed by evil spirits or belonged to a cult. His family and those who knew him said he always carried a bag with knives and documents containing literature no one understood. Other blamed drugs for his erratic behaviour and the killings.
Reports indicate that the suspect tried to attack pursuing villagers before he was stoned to death and his body set ablaze.
Igoji East MCA John Kireria said insecurity was to blame for the killings. He said the suspect had been roaming freely in the area despite being linked to multiple crimes. “It is unfortunate that he fled from the neighbouring village after committing arson and causing grievous harm. We have a police post but it is unoccupied because no officers have been posted there because the camp was funded by the Constituency Development Fund,” he said.
Mid-2017, Amnesty International launched a campaign ‘Stop ritual murders of people with albinism in Malawi’. Read below why.
A new wave of killings and attacks targeting people with albinism over the past six months is being fueled by systemic failures in Malawi’s criminal justice system which leave members of this vulnerable group at the mercy of criminal gangs.
Since January 2017, at least two people with albinism have been killed while seven more have reported crimes such as attempted murder or abduction.
Albinism is a rare,non-contagious, genetic condition present at birth that results in absence of pigmentation in the eyes, skin and hair. It is estimated that between 7,000-10,000 people live with albinism in Malawi.
Erroneous beliefs and superstitions have put the safety and lives of people with albinism at risk, including from killings, abductions, and mutilations. Societal attitudes about albinism are not changing, and people with albinism continue to be at risk of attacks with some children being abducted and sold by family members.
Despite stronger legislation since 2016, including reforms to the Penal Code and the Anatomy Act, to tackle attacks against people with albinism, we are seeing an alarming resurgence of killings and attacks against this vulnerable group in 2017.
A new wave of killings and attacks against people with albinism emerged in January 2017, after a six month reprieve between June and December 2016.
On 28 February 2017, Mercy Zainabu Banda, a 31-year-old woman with albinism was found murdered in Lilongwe with her hand, right breast and hair removed.
On 10 January 2017, 19-year-old Madalitso Pensulo was killed after he was invited for afternoon tea at his friend’s house in Mlonda village in Thyolo District. A passer-by heard him scream, but he died before the police arrived at the scene.
The latest abduction took place on 28 May, when a nine-year-old boy, Mayeso Isaac, was taken by a gang of 10 men.
People with albinism are paying for political and social inaction with their lives. This is a matter of life and death.
We’re calling on the president of Malawi to protect people with albinism from attacks and bring the perpetrators of albinism-related crimes to justice.
Dear President Peter Mutharika,
Thousands of people with albinism live in constant fear of being abducted or killed in Malawi, where their body parts are being sold for use in ritual purposes. Ritual killings of people with albinism are influenced by superstitions and myths that their bones or body parts can bring riches.
We, the undersigned, call on you to:
Bring to justice the perpetrators of albinism-related crimes
Offer effective protections for people with albinism. Protect their right to life and right to personal security, in accordance with Malawi’s international human rights obligations and commitments.
Resource the police to adequately and thoroughly investigate crimes related to albinism
Tackle the harmful superstitious beliefs perpetuating the targeting of people with albinism.
Since November 2014, an unprecedented wave of killings and other human rights abuses including abductions and robberies against people with albinism has swept through Malawi. Similar attacks have occurred in neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa. The current population of people with albinism in Malawi is estimated at between 7,000 and 10,000, representing a ratio of 1 in every 1,800 people.
The Malawian authorities must urgently overhaul the criminal justice system to protect people with albinism, who face the persistent threat of being killed for their body parts in a country where the vast majority of these horrific crimes remain unresolved and unpunished, Amnesty International said today.
In its new briefing, ‘End violence against people with albinism: Towards effective criminal justice for people with albinism in Malawi’, Amnesty found that people with albinism face long delays in getting justice.
Since November 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi has risen to 148 cases, including 14 murders and seven attempted murders, according to police figures. However, Amnesty has established that at least 21 people with albinism have been killed since 2014.
Only 30 per cent of the 148 reported cases against people with albinism have been concluded, according to the latest statistics from the Malawi Police Service and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. To date, only one murder and one attempted murder cases have been successfully prosecuted.
Even the police have raised concerns with Amnesty about delays in concluding trials, due to the limited number of senior magistrates qualified to deal with cases relating to people with albinism.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, said:
“People with albinism deserve to see justice for these vile, hateful crimes against them. That it takes so long for cases to be investigated or heard in court is a sobering indictment of the systematic failures in Malawi’s criminal justice system.
“The authorities must end impunity for these crimes immediately. As a first step, they must ensure all pending cases are dealt with without undue delay, and in line with international standards of fairness.”
Among recent victims is Mark Masambuka, a 22-year-old man from Nakawa village, in Machinga district, southern Malawi, who disappeared on 9 March after leaving his home with a friend. His body was found buried in a shallow grave on 1 April.
On 7 December last year, a two-year-old girl, Jean Ngwedula, went missing. Her father reportedly sold the child to a traditional doctor for ritual purposes in neighbouring Mozambique, which has been identified along with Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Swaziland and Tanzania as markets for the cross-border trade in body parts. Jean’s father was later arrested on charges of murder, and investigations were continuing at the time of the publication of this briefing.
Criminal justice failings
The biggest challenges facing the judiciary, prosecutors and police in Malawi include a lack of financial resources and qualified personnel to handle crimes against people with albinism, which has resulted in a backlog of cases. Although serious cases are dealt with in magistrates’ courts, most prosecutors are police officers with no legal training.
According to a senior magistrate interviewed by Amnesty, most police prosecutors struggle to make sound legal submissions, resulting in either acquittals or convictions on lesser charges.
Ending the cycle of killings
Amnesty has noted as a positive step forward the government’s recommitment to protect the rights of people with albinism during a commemoration of International Albinism Awareness Day on 13 June in Kasungu.
However, Amnesty believes that a human rights strategy is needed to address the root causes of crimes against people with albinism and to stop further attacks. The strategy should also include tracing and identifying the source of demand for body parts, as well as enlisting the cooperation of Malawi’s neighbouring countries to stamp out the cross-border trafficking of people with albinism and their body parts.
Deprose Muchena said:
“The Malawian authorities must ensure that people with albinism no longer live in fear of organised criminal gangs who prey on their body parts. The government must overhaul the judicial system to guarantee the security and safety of people with albinism, who are some of society’s most vulnerable.”