The recent disturbances in Zambia have given rise to many articles in local, regional and international newspapers. To cite them all would be an impossible task, I will not even attempt it here. Below I reproduce a kind of summary given by Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo. Of course, I realize that he is a high placed Zambian official (politician) who might be interested in the political correctness of his statement, or having – understandable – political objectives. However, his Ministerial Statement before Parliament provides us with enough elements to be relatively well informed about the recent incidents which occurred in many places and regions of his Southern African country. Besides, it is interesting to note the ‘definition’ of ritual murders which he gives us: ‘(….) I wish to state that the term ritual killing means slaying a human being to appease deity. In short, victims of ritual killing are found with certain body parts missing from them for suspicious ritual use. (…)’
The article is reproduced here for various reasons. First, it shows the willingness and determination of the Zambian authorities to maintain the law. Secondly, it gives insight in the fear of local people and the reason why mob justice occurs. Furthermore, it establishes – once more – the fact that ritual murders have not been eradicated from Zambian society and, finally, it shows the nowadays complex nature of this phenomenon with the mixture of traditional beliefs, superstition and outright criminal behavior which characterize ritualistic killings, in Zambia as well as other countries.(webmaster FVDK).
‘370 households, 1198 people affected by gassing so far’ – Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo
This is the second murder within a short period of time.
It is being alleged that Eastern Province has so far recorded the highest number of ritualistic murder cases (….). Zambia Albino Foundation president John Chiti stated that he suspects the province is recording a lot of cases because of the border with Malawi. “Something could be going on regarding the selling of body parts from one country to the other,” he said.
Maybe he’s right. However, it is common to blame foreigners when crimes are committed whereas the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, attacks on people with albinism, mutilating or murdering them for muti purposes, are often Zambians (webmaster FVDK).
CHIEF Ndake of the Nsenga people in Nyimba district has called for an urgent meeting with his indunas and village headmen following the brutal killing of an albino man last Thursday.
And Anglican Diocese of Eastern Zambia Bishop William Mchombo has called on the government to come up with strong intervention with traditional doctors to dispel the myth that albino body parts can bring immediate success in terms of wealth.
Meanwhile, Zambia Albino Foundation president John Chiti has expressed concern at the increase in albino killings in Eastern Province.
Gift Tembo, 39 of Abraham village, was murdered by unknown people around 01:00 hours on October 31.
Eastern Province deputy police commissioner Geoffrey Kunda confirmed the incident, saying Tembo’s throat was cut and his body dumped few metres from his house.
Commenting on the matter, chief Ndake said there was need for the local community to find ways of protecting people living with albinism.
“This is very devastating to me and the entire chiefdom. I will soon call for an urgent meeting with village head persons and indunas so that we find ways on how we can protect people living with albinism. If they are targeted like this then there is need for us as a community to find ways on how we can protect them,” he said.
Chief Ndake appealed to people to be on the lookout for those who were killing albinos.
“Those who have tips regarding the people who are killing albinos should come forward and report because it will not help us to hide these people. We don’t know what government can do so that we assist these people because it’s like albinos are on wanted list,” he said.
Ndake said Tembo was put to rest on Sunday.
“This is a very sad story. This young man who was staying alone struggled with his attackers. When the family members heard the deceased screaming, they went to check. They found that the attackers had carried the deceased and were running away with him,” he said.
“So when the relatives gave chase, the attackers dumped the body and ran away. Upon checking the body, the family members discovered that the deceased had been stabbed with a knife and his throat was cut off. This is sad and up to now we are deeply shocked because this is the second incident to have happened in the area within a short period of time,” he said.
Chief Ndake described the killing as cold blooded and unfortunate.
He said during Tembo’s funeral on Sunday, he pleaded with people to work together and end such killings.
Commenting on the incident, Bishop Mchombo said Tembo’s killing was unfortunate.
“This is very unfortunate. I think this has to do with the ritual killing where people believe that parts of an albino can bring them immediate success in terms of wealth, which is a myth. It’s not true,” he said.
“I think the sooner that is addressed, the better especially if government can bring about strong interventions with traditional doctors. This is where the whole thing come from because that’s what people are told, that when you do such a thing then you will be a rich person.”
Bishop Mchombo also called for more sensitisation on albinos.
“These are human beings and should be appreciated as they are. It’s just a deficient of some scientific proven attributes that make them the way they look but in terms of humanity they are as good as anybody else and they should be left alone and do what they want,” he said. “My advice is that let there be serious interventions from government and if people are found in such situations, the perpetrators of such heinous crimes let there be rules that will deter other people from committing similar crimes.”
Bishop Mchombo said the church and other stakeholders should ensure that they bring about awareness on matters relating to albinos who were also created in the image of God.
And Chiti said his foundation would contact Tembo’s family to see the kind of support it could provide.
“It is always a sad moment when we hear such news, we are saddened by the loss. What we are trying to do is to get in touch with the family and see what kind of support and anything else that can be done. We strongly condemn such killings. We just appeal to the relevant authorities to make sure that the culprits are brought to book,” he said.
Chiti also advised families with albinos to be careful because their lives were at risk.
“Eastern Province has so far recorded the highest number of cases, so it is a source of concern to us. We suspect the province is recording a lot of cases because of the border with Malawi. Something could be going on regarding the selling of body parts from one country to the other,” said Chiti.
Police have since arrested several people in connection with Tembo’s murder.