President Peter Mutharika has said he feels “ashamed” with superstitious notions about people with albinism that their bones can be used to get rich quick.
Speaking in an interview with BBC’s Sophie Ikenya in Mzuzu, Mutharika dismissed the superstitions which are perpetuated by witchdoctors who request and then use the parts of albinos as ingredients in certain rituals to bring both wealth. As a result, individuals with albinism have been abducted, dismembered and killed.
“The funny things is that the people who tell these people they will be rich they are poor themselves. How can they make other people rich,” said Mutharika in the interview which video is posted on BBC online.
Mutharika said during the interview that the rituals are “foolishness superstition.”
Asked how he feels being a President which is hunting down on persons with albinism in connection with beliefs centred on traditional medicine, Mutharika bluntly said: “I feel ashamed.”
On imposing executions on people found guilty of killing albinos, the President said death penalty is already in the Penal Code to deal with murderers including killers of persons with albinism.
“We already have a death penalty for homicide. It’s already there, I don’t think it will be necessary to have another death penalty only for albinos,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika said the Church should do more to protect people with albinism, saying “there has been some kind of silence.”
During an audience with religious leaders in Mzuzu, the President urged the faith leaders to help tackle the issue.
He said: “God has chosen you in this generation to ensure the spiritual welfare of this nation. We expect you to teach and condemn problems of human trafficking [some of networks are actually hiding behind church work]; condemn corruption; theft; intolerance; and the killing of albinos.
“These and other devilish acts are committed by your flock! You have the duty to ensure that Malawi has the right moral character.”
In parliament, Chairperson of Defence and Security in the House Williet Karonga said Malawi should to learn from Tanzania how to crackdown on perpetrators.
Leader of the House George Chaponda said: “As of now there is no evidence that the bones of people with albinism are used for ritual riches, and government has instituted a task force whose aim is to look into the matter so that perpetrators are brought to book.”
According to Chaponda 18 people with albinism have so far been killed, 14 abducted, three are missing and 28 burial sites have been tampered.
Meanwhile, Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) intends to conduct research to determine factors behind the belief that organs of persons with albinism can bring wealth.
MHRC chairperson Justin Dzonzi said the research would help formulate specific, long-term interventions to address the abductions and killings of persons with albinism.
“It is obvious there is a syndicate and therefore, we need to find out who is sending people to get organs of persons with albinism and why people are willing to kill their fellow human beings,” Dzonzi is quoted by official Malawi News Agency speaking last Thursday during a stakeholders’ review meeting that the Malawi Network Against Trafficking (MNAT) organised at Sunbird Capital in Lilongwe.
Albinism is a genetically inherited condition that deprives the skin, hair, and eyes of melanin, making individuals vulnerable to the sun, bright light, and prone to skin cancer.
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