APAM asks Tonse Alliance Govt. to speed upon ‘albino’ cases

“Justice delayed is justice denied.”

President for Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Ian Simbota has asked the Tonse alliance government to speed up all cases involve the killing and abduction of people with albinism which concern some high-profile politicians.

Among the cases according to Simbota include MacDonald Masambuka case, which is awaiting judgment in the High Court almost a year after it was concluded.

“Government must speed up these cases so that justice is done. Justice delayed is justice denied. We want justice to be done as this will deter others from committing such heinous crime. Albinos’ lives matter just like anyone else’s,” said Simbota.

The case stalled after the police officer, who was handling the case, the then head of CID, Bob Mtekama died mysteriously at Adventist hospital in Malawi’s commercial city, Blantyre.

The Mtekama has had all the leads of the case and was so passionate about this case – he really wanted justice to be done and he arrested police officers including his boss, Acting Commissioner of Police for the centre, Evarista Chisale.

Amnesty International regional director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, said: “In Malawi people with albinism continue to live in fear of being killed or abducted for their body parts. These waves of violent attacks are fuelled by the false and dangerous myth that body parts of people with albinism can make someone rich.”

Before voted into power, President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera promised Malawians to end the ritual killings and abductions of people with albinism saying when he becomes president he will put in place tough measures to protect people with albinism.

Ousted former president Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and his former aide Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba were implicated in a case where a person with albinism was killing by the suspects in the case.

At least 12 people, including senior former governing Democratic Progressive Party – DPP officials, were accused or mentioned as participants in his abduction and murder in 2018.

While describing the slow delivery of justice in the case as disheartening, APAM president, Ian Simbota, calls on the Tonse administration to ensure that the rights and safely of persons with albinism are guaranteed.

‘Death Sentence’

In Malawi and elsewhere, the persecution of people with albinism (sometimes abbreviated PWA is based on the belief that certain body parts of albinistic people can transmit magical powers.

Such superstition is present especially in some parts of the Africa great lakes African Great Lakes region, it has been promulgated and exploited by witch doctors and others who use such body parts as ingredients in rituals, concoctions and potions with the claim that their magic will bring prosperity to the user.
As a result, people with albinism have been persecuted, killed and dismembered, and graves of albinos dug up and desecrated. At the same time, people with albinism have also been ostracised and even killed for exactly the opposite reason, because they are presumed to be cursed and bring bad luck.

The persecutions of people with albinism take place mostly in Sub-Saharan African communities, especially among East Africans. Albinism is a genetically inherited condition which is very rare and, worldwide, affects approximately one in twenty thousand people. Although rare in the western world, albinism is quite common in sub-Saharan Africa, likely as a result of consanguineous alliances.

In May 2019, a man was for the first time sentenced to death for killing an albino teenager in a case that became a campaign issue ahead of the June 23 general elections with the opposition accusing the the then DPP-led government of inaction.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread in rural Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, fuelling ritual killings particularly targeting people albinism because of the wide belief that their body parts can increase wealth.

However, the vast majority of cases involving crimes against people with albinism do not go before the court because of lack of funds and legal aid support for suspected perpetrators.

Even where cases have have been brought to court, the accused persons have often been released due to flawed investigations and lack of relevant and material admissible evidence.

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