Atrocities, witchcraft, superstition and ritualistic cannibalism during Liberia’s First Civil War (1989-1997)

A former ULIMO commander stands trial in France accused of war crimes, human rights violations, murder and cannibalism.

The rebel fighters pictured here are not related to the story below

For shortness sake reference is made to Civitas Maxima’s monitoring of the arrest and trial of Kunti Kamara, a former ULIMO commander who was arrested in France in 2018. Kunti Kamara is accused of war crimes and human rights violations including torture, rape, murder and cannibalism committed during Liberia’s first civil war (1989-1997) in Foya, Lofa County, Liberia. His trial started in Paris/France on October 10.

Ritualistic activities including ritual murder and acts of cannibalism are well-known in Liberia. This site has reported frequently on ritual murder cases, the discovery of mutilated bodies, and unexplained disappearances which allegedly are linked to ritualistic activities. Election periods and the back-to-back civil wars (1989-1997; 1999-2003) are notorious peaks in the occurrence of ritual murders.

As far back as the 1970s, President William Tolbert (1971-1980) condemned ritualistic murders (‘An eye for an eye‘) and refused to grant clemency to seven convicted ritual murderers in what was perhaps Liberia’s most notorious ritual murder case (‘the Harper Seven‘). In 2005, the Head of the LNTG, Gyude Bryant, warned presidential candidates not to commit ritual murders to boost their chances. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2006-2018) on more than one occasion spoke out against ritualistic murders. In 2017 people in Bong County protested against the ‘election year ritual killings’. More recently, during the Weah Administration (2018 – present), Liberia is again confronted with a wave of mysterious deaths, unexplained disappearances and ritual murders which has led politicians, religious leaders, civilians, to condemn these practices, urging President Weah to act.

Kunti Kamara is not the first or only rebel commander who’s being accused of ritual murder and cannibalism. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission mentions in its 2009 Final Report that hundreds of Liberians were murdered for ritual purposes during the two civil wars. In his book The Mask of Anarchy (1999), the late Stephen Ellis accuses the leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) who started Liberia’s first civil war, Charles Taylor, of drinking human blood during a juju ritual. Also Gibril Massaquoi, a RUF commander in neighboring Sierra Leone and a key-witness in the SCSL trial of warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor, was accused of murder for ritual purposes, but acquitted in April (2022).
(webmaster FVDK).

“I would never eat human heart” –
Kunti Kamara denies accusation before a French War Crimes court

Published: October 18, 2022
By: Prue Clarke, Front Page Africa – Monrovia, Liberia

PARIS, France – The former Ulimo commander Kunti Kamara, on trial here for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia’s civil wars, had his first chance to make a substantive response to the allegations made against him in the first five days of this trial.

Under questioning from the judges, civilian lawyers and prosecution lawyers Kamara denied all the accusations that victims have made against him of torture, rape, murder of civilians and “barbarism” in the town of Foya in Lofa County, Liberia between 1993 and 1994.

Kamara told the nine-person jury and four alternates that the accusations of cannibalism – that he roasted and ate the heart of a civilian who had allegedly reported his crimes to international observers – made him sick.

“Since I was arrested nothing bothered me in the trial like what they’re talking about now. Eating human beings,” Kamara said. “Even if I spend 100 years in jail I will not admit to eating a human being’s heart. Each time I hear it I want to vomit.”

“Since I was born until today I never eat pork,” said Kamara a Muslim. “Why should I eat human being heart? I have nothing to say. I am innocent. I don’t know them today. I don’t know them tomorrow.”

Kamara denied that he had ever knew anyone who had said they ate human heart including in rituals of the Poro, a traditional African society.

“Since I was small that is a rumor in the ear,” he said of Poro human sacrifice and consumption of human flesh. “But I never met anyone who said they ate heart.”

Kamara insisted that the Ulimo committed no atrocities against civilians in the four-month period he was with them in Foya though he conceded Ulimo may have committed atrocities elsewhere during the war.

He said Ulimo in Foya was under the ultimate command of Ulimo Commander Dekau. Kamara said his mandate was only as battalion commander in charge of platoons “on the frontlines”. He denied any leadership role in the town over civilians.

Kamara acknowledged Ulimo fighters that victims have identified in this trial “Ugly Boy”, “Fine Boy” and Alieu Kosiah, convicted of war crimes in Switzerland in 2021, were all with him in Foya but Kamara claimed he hardly ever saw them.

Kamara blamed the accusations that have brought him to trial here were part of a “plot” orchestrated by “a clique” led by Fayah Williams, the late deputy director at Global Justice and Research Project, the Liberian justice activists.

TRC Commissioner Massa Washington is interviewed by New Narratives’ Anthony Stephens after her testimony at the Paris trial

Late in the evening Massa Washington, the former commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, gave a powerful testimony that could prove decisive in the trial.

It was designed to answer questions that jurors may have had about whether they should be passing judgement on a Liberian for crimes committed 30 years ago in a country a long way away. That was a question French journalists were asking eachother on the sidelines of the trial.

“These trials are important because they give them people of Liberia justice,” an emotional Washington told the jury. “They give us hope that one day we’ll be able to get justice with our own judges, our own prosecutors, on our own soil. In the meantime we are grateful that some of the people who committed these gross violations of human rights who are in this country, in the US, in every country in the world where they find them they can try to bring them to justice. In the absence of our government addressing accountability these trials are the Liberian people have.”

Washington thanked the jury.

“It sends a message that we belong to the universal human race,” Washington said. “It says that the world has not forgotten Liberia. It says that we all share that common human dignity. We have the same needs. We feel the same pain. We thank you for the opportunity to tell some of these stories. I hope this has provided an important clarification for why this trial is important.”

Washington told some of the horrors she had personally witnessed as a journalist in Monrovia during the first civil war. The jury was riveted by her testimony which made clear that the testimony they were hearing from witnesses here was just a fraction of the myriad atrocities that had been committed during the war. She told of rapes of girls as young as five and of elderly women. She said her work with women made it clear to her than many of the elderly women had not come forward to the TRC hearings because of the stigma.

She told the story of an 82-year-old woman who told her she was made a war wife.

“’I was raped all the time by boys who could have been my grandchildren,’” Massa quoted the woman as saying. “Her story is just one story that represents thousands of stories. The rebels were so bad that when people were on checkpoints trying to get away from the fighting the rebels were raping the wives in front of the husbands. They even forced sons to have sex with mothers in front of the family to destroy the men. They took the young girls away.”

Earlier in the day the fifth victim to testify against Kamara detailed the alleged torture, killing and cannibalism of a schoolteacher in Foya that all victims have claimed was directed by the defendant.

He also talked more broadly of the suffering of people in Lofa during Ulimo’s occupation of the town. His telling of the experience of the women he had planned to marry was a harrowing example of the broader suffering of the people.

“M. was my girlfriend and Ugly Boy took her as a sex slave,” the victim told the Paris court talking of the now deceased perpetrator that many victims have alleged was Kamara’s lieutenant who followed his orders to commit many of the crimes. The court has ordered press to withhold victims’ names for their security.

“This was another blow to me,” the victim told the court. ”I really planned to marry her. The first time I saw her after the war, it was painful, but it had happened. She was not at fault. I saw her but the stigma was too heavy. I could no longer take her as a wife. By tradition anyone who takes a wife after that is easily rejected from society. In addition, because of her time as a sex slave, she conceived. I am feeling it for her now because her situation is too deplorable.”

The trial continues Tuesday with more testimonies from victims about the murder of a woman in Lofa.

This story is a collaboration with New Narratives as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project. 

Source: Liberia: “I would never eat human heart” Kamara Tells War Crimes Court as TRC Commissioner Washington Makes a Powerful Case for the Legitimacy of the French Trial

And:

Liberia: “You are Kundi. You killed my sister”
A third victim identifies Kamara as perpetrator in War Crimes Trial

The three judges in the trial of Kunti Kamara in Paris, France (Credit: Leslie Lumeh/New Narratives)

Published: October 19, 2022
By: Anthony Stephens and Prue Clarke with New Narratives, Front Page Africa – Monrovia,

PARIS, France – On Tuesday a third victim identified Kunti Kamara, on trial for torture, cannibalism and crimes against humanity in the Paris Court, as “Co Kundi” the rebel commander who allegedly committed atrocities in Foya, Lofa County, Liberia.

The man was one of four plaintiffs who have brought the case against Kamara here in Paris, France where Kamara was living when he was arrested in 2019 after French investigators built a case against him.

“You are Kundi,” the man said turning to look at Kamara directly, barely containing his obvious emotion and rage. The plaintiff pointed at Kamara who was sitting behind his lawyers in a protective glass case. “I know you very well. You the one that killed my sister.”

The now elderly man told the court Kamara arrived at his house in Foya in late 1993 after the man’s sister’s baby had died. He alleged Kamara gave the family $L100 for their pain.

Soon after that Kamara allegedly ordered the victim’s sick and half naked sister – the mother of the child – dragged from the house. He accused her of witchcraft. The victim said Kamara and his troops had taken over the house for themselves and already had his wife, son and mother in custody at the time. Kamara did not know the man, who was standing with a crowd, was a member of the family.

The victim was overcome with tears as told the court that he had watched as Kamara put three bullets in his sister’s head.

Within months the man’s mother was also dead from illness. The victim blamed Kunti for the grief the murder of his sister had caused her.

“She cried every day,” he said. “So she became sick from not seeing my sister.”

The lawyer for the civil parties asked the victim if he had anything to say to Kamara but he took the opportunity to issue a warning to the judges instead.

“I’m very happy to see all the officers to take care of Kundi,” he said pointing to the court officers who accompany the defendant at all times. “This government should not leave Kundi to come back to Liberia.”

Kamara rejected all the allegations as he has done consistently throughout this trial.

“I’m just shocked,” an agitated Kamara told the president of the court Thierry Fusina. “I don’t know him. These people, it’s my first time to see them in my life. I don’t know them! They are lying on me. I’m not a criminal.”

Earlier in the day another witness to the alleged murder of the sick woman accused of witchcraft gave evidence that appeared to contradict testimony that he gave to an earlier investigating judge in the case.

Source: Liberia: “You Are Kundi. You Killed My Sister” – A Third Victim Identifies Kamara as Perpetrator in War Crimes Trial

Catholic officials decry resurgence of death penalty in southern Africa

The focus of today’s posting is not on ritualistic murders or comparable and related crimes, such as kidnapping, torture a.s.o. However, the topic is related: in more than one African country, the public and also the authorities want the introduction and the carrying out of the death penalty for convicted perpetrators of ritual killings both as a deterrent to prevent future crimes and as a justified revenge of the community for the senseless loss of life of one of its members.

It is a controversial topic, as will be clear from the article below. Whereas many African countries have abolished the capital punishment, there seems to be a resurgence of the death penalty in various parts of Africa, notably in southern Africa (Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe), but also in West Africa (Nigeria e.g.). Recently, Catholic officials across the continent have rejected the increasing calls for the introduction of the death penalty, saying “The death sentence cannot be a solution, especially considering how poor our justice system still is across most of Africa.”

The latter argument makes sense. There are more reasons to defend the abolishment of the death penalty. However, supporters hold the opposite view for reasons cited above.

Whatever the position is, in favor of or against the death penalty, the article reproduced below shows one more time the ugly practice of ritualistic murders in Southern Africa.  

More on the killing of people with albinism in Malawi in a few days time (webmaster FVDK).

Catholic officials decry resurgence of death penalty in southern Africa

Boniface Chibwana, coordinator for the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Malawi’s bishop’s conference (Provided photo)

Published: March 15, 2021
By: National Catholic Reporter – Tawande Karombo

HARARE, ZIMBABWE — Catholic officials and human rights campaigners across Africa are reiterating their opposition to capital punishment after Botswana carried out two executions for murder convictions in February.

Botswana, located north of South Africa, confirmed the executions of 33-year-old Wedu Mosalagae and 29-year-old Kutlo Setima on Feb. 8. Both had been found guilty in separate cases of killing a woman.

Oluwatosin Popoola, a legal advisor for Amnesty International on death penalty issues, told NCR that the organization is “very concerned” about the executions, especially as they are the fifth and sixth since President Mokgweetsi Masisi came into office in 2019.

This as “a high number for Botswana within a 16-month period and an indication that the country is not relenting in its adherence” to the use of the death penalty, said Popoola.

“The recent executions are regressive and they slow down Africa’s push against the death penalty,” said Popoola. “There is no unique imperative for any country to use the death penalty.”

Although many African nations have abolished use of the death penalty in the past decade — including Guinea, Benin, the Republic of the Congo and Madagascar — Botswana’s government claims it can be a good deterrent to prevent violent crimes.

In nearby Malawi, proponents say it prevents the murdering of people with albinism for ritual purposes. Amnesty international said earlier in February that more than 20 murders of people with albinism have been committed in Malawi since 2014.

In 2019, three Malawians were sentenced to death for the killing of a person with albinism. (See tomorrow’s posting – FVDK). But the country has not carried out any death sentence since 1994, joining other countries such as Zimbabwe that have been imposing death sentences but not carrying out executions.

Boniface Chibwana, coordinator for the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Malawi’s bishop’s conference, told NCR he thinks African Catholic officials can be doing more to drum up support for the dropping of the death penalty across the continent.

“To deter crimes such as murder, the church needs to progressively and actively socialize the young using the human rights approach, so that many of its followers should grow in Christ while respecting the human rights culture to build societies where such rights as the protection of life are a norm,” he said.

In 2019, there was a 53% jump in death sentence convictions across sub-Saharan Africa compared to 212 convictions a year earlier. These death sentences resulted from murder convictions in Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Popoola said Chad, which borders Libya, Niger and Sudan, was the latest country in Africa to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.

In South Africa, there have been calls for the restoration of the death penalty from some sections of society, especially as gender-based violence and killings of women increase. South Africa abolished capital punishment in 1995.

Fr. Dumisani Vilakati, director of the regional conference of Catholic bishops across southern Africa, told NCR that the church is often blamed for not being vocal enough against the death penalty. But he said the church “is part of the solution” for the promotion of the right to life, from conception to natural death.

“Here in Africa, we have to put the death penalty in the pro-life scheme that has been espoused by Pope Francis,” said Vilakati.

“We are a church that preaches conversion of human beings, and we believe that people can change for the better,” said the priest. “The death sentence cannot be a solution, especially considering how poor our justice system still is across most of Africa.”

Vilakati explained that there have been numerous wrongful convictions across the continent, and inmates are increasingly having to wait longer and longer for their trials to be conducted.

“What we need to do as a society is to educate people, and the church should play its role in espousing the sanctity of life [rather] than having society eliminating people through death penalty,” said Vilakati. “We should be pro-life and give people a second chance.”

Source: Catholic officials decry resurgence of death penalty in southern Africa

Map of Southern Africa

Gambia: Exiled dictator Jammeh accused of ritualistic practices

A Gambian businessman, Sillibah Samateh, testifying before the nation’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission has accused former Gambia dictator-president Yahya Jammeh of sacrificing babies for ritualistic purposes. Is it a lie, a phantasy or the truth? 

The fact that I have decided to include here Mr. Samateh’s testimony before Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) is no approval of his allegations and accusations implicating the former dictator who was chased out of his country in January 2017. Jammeh  was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea where he now lives, with the millions he stole before boarding the plane that brought him to the republic whose president is Africa’s longest ruling president, Teodoro Obiang. Equatorial Guinea has one of the worst human rights records in the world. 

Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh – his full name being Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh –  seized power in a military coup in 1994 and ruled the tiny West African republic with an iron fist during more than 20 years. Thousands of his opponents died or disappeared during his dictatorship. He has been accused of numerous human rights violations, murders, killing migrants, shooting students, arbitrary arrests, suppression of the press, corruption, rape, witch hunting campaigns – the list of accusations and crimes is even much longer. From this point of view the allegations made by Mr. Samateh gain some credibility, but – as I have repeatedly said in this place – ‘nobody is guilty unless found guilty by an independent, impartial judge after a public, transparent trial‘.

Therefor, I present the allegations without comments. I don’t say they are true, I don’t say they are not true. I only say that the accusations have to been proven (webmaster FVDK).

The rise and exile of Gambia’s ex-President Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh

Gambia: Exiled Gambian dictator accused of stealing babies from hospitals for ritualistic purposes; Jammeh’s supporters reject accusations

Published: December 9, 2020
By: Freedom Newspaper

A Gambian businessman has accused the former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh of sacrificing newborn babies for ritualistic purposes. He says the babies were taken from hospitals and sacrificed. Sillaba Samateh made the allegations before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Tuesday. As Pa Nderry Mbai reports from Raleigh, North Carolina, Jammeh’s supporters are denying the allegations. 

Speaking before an interpreter businessman Sillaba Samateh claimed that he learned about Jammeh’s alleged babies’ ritual while he was under detention at the National Intelligence Agency in Banjul. Samateh said he himself was being used to transport the stolen babies into the office of the late NIA Director General Numo Kujabi.

The two former security officers Samateh named in his testimony Nfanli Jabang and Numo Kujabi have died.

“You know the seriousness of this accusations. That the President of this country, was taking babies from hospitals and take them to prison to Kanilai for human sacrifice,” Lead Counsel Essa Faal told Mr. Samateh.

Samateh still stands by his story. He says Jammeh was allegedly killing babies for ritual purposes.

Samateh was held at the NIA on drug trafficking related charges. He later jumped bail and fled to Holland.

He claimed that while at the NIA, he was often asked to pick up dead bodies and put them in body bags.

Dodou Jah is the Deputy Spokesman for the former ruling APRC party.

“If these allegations were true, where are the parents of those kids, they have relatives, knowing for example, my wife is pregnant, goes to the hospital to deliver, we are expecting a baby. Even if my wife happens to pass away, but the baby belongs to the family, if the family doesn’t see it, the hospital is responsible. And these are issues that cannot go under the carpet, the media would be in the epicenter of it and this news is going to spread, but how come no such story ever emerged,” Mr. Jah said.

Jah says Samateh’s claims should be treated with pinch of salt. He added that witnesses should testify the truth and stop making baseless allegations against Yahya Jammeh.

“Not I don’t trust the TRRC, but some of the revelations I don’t know what to believe and the lead counsel is proving to them that they are lying. A witness comes to the TRRC and the lead counsel is telling them you are lying, but people want me to believe what they are saying. You know until somebody said it is red, another said it is black, I am asking who do I have to believe,” Mr. Jah remarked.

Samsudeen Sarr is the former Gambian Ambassador to the United Nations. Sarr is also a sympathizer of the APRC party.

“If thing of that nature as gruesome that is, would have been talked about everywhere in this country. So, I have serious doubts as to the credibility of the story of Sillaba Samateh,” Sarr remarked.

Sarr says Sillaba’s reputation is questionable. He is not convinced that Samateh was being truthful to the Commission.

“His reputation in this country has not been very good. You that, you know better than I do, Sillaba’s name it was not associated with good things in the past and since the change of government, he has been trying to sanitize his name and join the Barrow government,” Sarr added.

Lead Counsel Essa Faal says given the seriousness of Samateh’s allegations; it is important for the Commission’s Investigation team to investigate the matter.

Samateh was in tears while giving evidence. He claimed that one of the NIA officers Omar Cham had even threatened to rape his wife while they were being held there.

In another development, a former NIA detainee, who wished not to be named has dismissed Sillaba’s claims. He has accused Samateh of lying to the TRRC.

“We were detained at the same location at the NIA. No babies were brought to the NIA for ritual sacrifices. That was a figment of Sillaba’s own imagination. I am calling you, because I feel that he was untruthful to the Commission,” he said.

“As you rightly pointed out in your radio show, Numo Kujabi and Nfanli Jabang are not alive to substantiate his allegations. He is using the death to sell a false story,” the caller added.

Source: Gambia: Exiled Gambian dictator accused of stealing babies from hospitals for ritualistic purposes; Jammeh’s supporters reject accusations!

Malawi judge sentences three to death for albinism murder

File Photo

Published: August 14, 2019
By: Charles Pensulo, Thomson Reuters Foundation

BLANTYRE, Aug 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Three people have been sentenced to death in Malawi for the murder and mutilation of a person with albinism, a court official confirmed on Wednesday, a sanction the judge said would serve as a strong deterrent. 

Malawi is one of the most dangerous countries for people with the condition, who are targeted for ritual killings because of a belief that their body parts can increase wealth. 

Douglas Mwale, Sophie Here and Fontino Folosani killed Prescott Pepuzani in 2015, using a metal bar and a hoe handle before chopping off his hands and legs and burying him in Mwale’s garden in Mchinji district, Central Malawi. 

Passing sentence on Tuesday at the High Court in Mchinji, Judge Esmey Chombo said it would act as a strong deterrent to others and help put an end to the crime. 

Another man was sentenced to death in Malawi in May for murdering a teenager with albinism – the first time the death penalty had been handed down in such a case – though he has not been executed. (Also see my May 4 posting – webmaster FVDK).

Malawi operates a moratorium on the death penalty and last carried out an execution in 1992, according to research by Cornell Law School. 

The southern African country is home to up to 10,000 people with albinism, a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. 

Their body parts can fetch high sums in an underground trade concentrated in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania. 

There have been more than 160 recorded attacks in Malawi including 22 murders since November 2014, according to human rights group Amnesty International. (italics added by the webmaster FVDK)

The government has denied accusations by rights groups that it is doing little to stop the violence. 

Overstone Kondowe, who heads the African Union for People with Albinism, said he hoped the sentence would curb the attacks. 

“This is really a big step and we want to encourage the Malawi government to continue (with tough penalties),” he said. 

“Whether they will really be hanged or not, it’s not significant. The public will still get the message.” 

Kondowe urged the courts to take a similarly tough stance with other pending cases, adding that the murders of people with albinism had fallen in Tanzania, which has imposed the death penalty in similar cases.

(Reporting by Charles Pensulo; Writing by Emma Batha; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

Source: Malawi judge sentences three to death for albinism murder

Related articles: 

Death penalty handed down for three albino killers in Malawi

An albino boy and his friend in Luwerezi, Malawi (Wikimedia/janjacob).

Published: August 14,2019
By: RFI

Two men and a woman have been sentenced to death in Malawi after being convicted of brutally murdering a man with albinism in 2015.

The “three were found guilty of (murder and possessing human tissue) and have been sentenced to death” in Mchinji on Tuesday, judiciary spokesperson Agness Patemba told Agence France Presse newswire.

Douglas Mwale, Fontino Folosani and Sophie Jere used a metal bar and hoe handle to kill Priscott Pepuzani, chopping off his limbs and burying his body. Body parts of people with albinism are seen as magical, their limbs used in witchcraft for good luck, wealth, or to win elections.

“This ruling enhances our faith in the judiciary and solidifies our belief that we have them as an advocate in our fight to curb killings and abductions against people with albinism,” Ian Simbota, the head of the Association of People Living with Albinism, said after the ruling.

He added that he hoped it would deter others from attacking people with albinism.

President Peter Mutharika created a commission of inquiry last March after a number of people with albinism were attacked. He had come under fire for not adequately responding to the issue.

Amnesty International released a report in May showing that 22 of the 163 cases reported in Malawi since 2014 have been murders, an indication that little had been done to combat the issue.

This is the second death sentence handed down this year for albino murders. In May, Willard Mikaele, the killer of Mphatso Pensulo, 19, was sentenced to death.

Death sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment, as Malawi has not executed any criminals since 1994.

Source: Death penalty handed down for three albino killers in Malawi

And:

Malawi court sentences three to death over albino killing

Malawi’s musician with albinism, Lazarus Chigwandali, practices his guitar and drum in front of his children before leaving his home at Likuni to go and perform at Area 3 Market in the capital Lilongwe on May 10, 2019 in Likuni on the outskirts of Lilongwe, Malawi. – Chigwandali is not the usual street musician. He is an albino, releasing a professional album, and the star of a documentary produced by Madonna. Albinos are often targeted in brutal attacks in Malawi and other southern African countries because they have white skin due to a hereditary condition that causes lack of pigmentation. (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP)

Published: August 14, 2019
By: MalayMail

BLANTYRE, Aug 14 — A Malawi court has convicted and sentenced two men and a woman to death for killing a person with albinism, a judiciary official said today.

Malawi has since late 2014 seen a surge in attacks on people with albinism, whose body parts are often used in witchcraft rituals to bring wealth and luck.

The court found Douglas Mwale, Fontino Folosani and Sophie Jere guilty of murdering Priscott Pepuzani in 2015 using a metal bar and a hoe handle. The trio chopped off Pepuzani’s limbs and later buried the rest of the body in a garden. The “three were found guilty of (murder and possessing human tissue) and have been sentenced to death,” Agness Patemba, judiciary spokeswoman told AFP. The sentence was handed down in the western town of Mchinji on Tuesday.

This is the second death sentence handed down in the country in the past three months following one in May this year for the murder of 19-year-old albino Mphatso Pensulo in 2017.

Malawi has not carried out any executions since 1994, with death sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

Association of People Living with Albinism welcomed Tuesday’s ruling, hoping it will deter attacks on their members.

“This ruling enhances our faith in the judiciary and solidifies our belief that we have them as an advocate in our fight to curb killings and abductions against people with albinism,” said Ian Simbota, leader of the association. 

President Peter Mutharika in March appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate the spate of attacks on people with albinism after coming under mounting criticism over his response to the attacks.

Albinos are often targeted in brutal attacks in Malawi – one of the world’s poorest and most aid-dependent countries – because they have white skin due to a hereditary condition that causes lack of pigmentation. In many cases, those with albinism are targeted for their body parts to be used in witchcraft.

Of 163 cases reported in the country since November 2014, 22 have been murders, Amnesty International said in May 2019, criticising impunity for the crimes. Just 30 per cent of those attacks have been properly investigated, according to official statistics. — AFP (italics added by the webmaster FVDK).

Source: Malawi court sentences three to death over albino killing

And: 
Malawi: 3 sentenced to death over killing of person with albinism – Second death sentence handed down in recent months related to violence against people with albinism.

People with albinism, of which there are up to 10,000 in the country, are often victims of brutal attacks in Malawi [Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP]

Published: August 15, 2019
By: AlJazeera

Malawi court has convicted and sentenced three people to death for killing a person with albinism.

The “three were found guilty of [murder and possessing human tissue] and have been sentenced to death,” judiciary spokeswoman Agness Patemba told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

The court found Douglas Mwale, Fontino Folosani and Sophie Jere guilty of murdering Priscott Pepuzani in 2015 using a metal bar and a hoe handle. The trio chopped off Pepuzani’s limbs and buried the rest of the body in a garden.

The sentence was handed down in the western town of Mchinji on Tuesday.

This is the second death sentence handed down in the country in the past three months.

Another man was sentenced to death in May for murdering a teenager with albinism – the first time the death penalty had been handed down in such a case – though he has not been executed.

Malawi has not carried out any executions since 1994, with death sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

‘Big step’

In March, Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate the spate of attacks on people with albinism, after coming under mounting criticism over his response to the attacks.

Overstone Kondowe, who heads the African Union for People with Albinism, said he hoped the sentence would curb the attacks.

“This is really a big step and we want to encourage the Malawi government to continue [with tough penalties],” said Kondowe.

“Whether they will really be hanged or not, it’s not significant. The public will still get the message.”

The Association of People Living with Albinism also welcomed the ruling, hoping it will deter attacks on their members.

“This ruling enhances our faith in the judiciary and solidifies our belief that we have them as an advocate in our fight to curb killings and abductions against people with albinism,” said Ian Simbota, leader of the association.

People with albinism, of which there are up to 10,000 in the country, are often victims of brutal attacks in Malawi – one of the world’s poorest and most aid-dependent nations.

This is because of their white skin resulting from a hereditary condition that causes a lack of pigmentation.

Other conditions associated with albinism include vulnerability to bright light, which can cause legal blindness.

Often, individuals with albinism are targeted in Malawi for their body parts to be used in witchcraft.

More than 160 cases have been reported in the country since November 2014, of which 22 have been murders, Amnesty International said in May 2019.

Just 30 percent of those attacks have been properly investigated, according to official statistics. 

Source: Malawi: 3 sentenced to death over killing of person with albinism

PS The original AlJazeera article contains three additional, interesting presentations, one on ‘What is albinism and what causes it?‘ (Infographic), another called ‘Africa investigates: The spell of the albino’ – 25 minutes), and a third called ‘Killed for their bones – Read their story‘, a lengthy article with lots of photos, and worth reading (webmaster FVDK).  

Gambia – President Barrow denies killing his son for ritual purposes to become president

The big news of this article is NOT what its heading suggests. I have no doubt, president Barrow is speaking the truth. However, the real meaning of this article – and that’s why I include it here – is that it underscores one of my firm beliefs: “Ritual killings are a – daily – reality in many African countries”. If ritual killings would never occur in the Gambia, this rumor would not have existed. The fact alone that the president of the Gambia finds it necessary to publicly deny any involvement in the ritual killing of his son, says a lot about what’s in peoples’ mind in the Gambia. Also, apparently, the (supposed) link between presidential elections and ritual killing is a logical one, also in the Gambia.

Ritualistic killings, superstition and rumors thrive where there is lack of education and proper information. Hence the key to a better future lies in a better education, accessible to all.

President Barrow denies killing his son for ritual purposes to become president

Adama Barrow won the 2016 presidential election, defeating eccentric dictator Yahya Jammeh (1994 – 2017). Jammeh refused to recognize his defeat and Barrow fled to Senegal. After a diplomatic ECOWAS intervention Jammeh was forced to go into exile. Barrow returned to the Gambia on January 26, 2017 and was installed as Gambia’s third president since independence in 1965.

Published: June 27, 2018
By Pa Nderry M’Bai
Freedom Newspaper 

President Adama Barrow has denied reports attributed to him that he allegedly killed his son for ritual purposes so that he can be elected into office as Gambia’s President. The president made the denial through his Press Director Amie Bojang Sissoho, who addressed a news conference on Wednesday at the President’s office in Banjul. This followed, a statement made by President Barrow, during a recent visit to Faraba Banta, where he was quoted as having said that he (Barrow) had to sacrifice his own son, wealth, and life in order for The Gambia to be freed from Jammeh’s twenty-two years dictatorship. Barrow was in Faraba last week to sympathize with the bereaved families, whose loved ones were killed by Gambia’s police intervention unit— the (PIU).

“ When he lost his son, is because he left the Gambia, as president elect. When his son died, he had to leave the children behind. If he was not the president, he would not have done that at that point in time; he wouldn’t have left his family behind. That is what he was trying to explain; that even he has lost his family, but he had to move on because he has taken a responsibility of serving the country,” State House Press Director Amie Bojang Sissoho clarified.

Mr. Barrow’s statement attracted a huge reaction on social media. Many Gambians were taken aback by Barrow’s statement, in which he allegedly made the appearance that he sacrificed his son for ritual purposes to become the country’s President. But the State House was quick to dismiss such reports saying that the President’s statement was being blown out of proportion. It also says Barrow’s statement was being interpreted out of context.

“We have to understand things into context. And remember that when people are in a difficult situation; we have to understand how, and what was the context in which things happened. And this was what simply he was trying to explain. And that is simply what he was trying to explain. That in a process, anything could happen. This is what happened; these lives were loss because of a cause; to show that even he himself lost his child because of a cause. His child died,” Mrs. Bojang Sissoho further clarified.

Mr. Barrow’s son was bitten by a stray dog, and he died in the process. Barrow and his two wives were in Dakar, Senegal, at the time of the incident. His son was buried in his absence.

Mr. Barrow left the Gambia for Mali, to attend a regional Summit over Gambia’s political impasse. He later resettled in Dakar, Senegal, in the wake of the country’s month long political impasse. Former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh had refused to concede defeat during Gambia’s December 2016 Presidential elections, which had thrown the impoverished West African country into a state of turmoil.

“And it was difficult time. We all know that..; when his son died, he was president elect; he was not sworn in; he left the country, but that did not stop him to move on. It is not that he did not feel it; what he was trying to say is that we have our difficult times, but we have to move on as a country,” Mrs Bojang Sissoho told journalists.

“I think people have to calm down on receiving information. What the president was emphasizing was that; we all have lost somebody for the sake of the Gambia; We have been either directly or indirectly affected,” she added.

Source: Freedom Newspaper, June 27, 2018

With a territory of 10,689 square kilometres (4,127 sq mi) the Gambia is the smallest country within mainland Africa.