Criminals exhume, dismember body of a person with albinism in Lilongwe

Pepole in Sitima Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Masumbankhunda in the outskirts of Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, are in a state of shock after criminals exhumed and dismembered a body of a young man with albinism.

The deceased, Wilson Sitima, died of skin cancer on April 7, 2022, and was laid to rest the following day. However, six months after his burial, the unknown criminal gangs exhumed his body and went away with body parts including legs and arms, leaving late Phiri’s body with the head and chest only.

President of the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) Young Muhamba confirmed the development, saying the incident happened on Sunday, October 16, 2022.

“Some women who went to fetch firewood at the graveyard where late Phiri was buried, came across an exhumed tomb, the development which raised their eyebrows and they instantly reported the matter to village authorities. It is believed that this had happed in the wee hours of Friday, October 14th 2022. The remains were reburied after advice from Malawi Police Service. However, the reburial was not made with concrete, which still brings fears among persons with albinism in Malawi and the community members in the village on the security of the remains,” said Muhamba.

Young Muhamba

Village Head Chapanira described the development as devastating, but assured that they are taking steps to ensure that the culprits have been apprehended.

“This is a setback as one can even question some people’s attitude towards some matters. How can one exhume tomb of a man who was buried months ago?” he wondered.

“This is the first time that we are having this incident and many are surprised with what has happened.”

Meanwhile, Muhamba has warned that the act could potentially bring back fear among persons with albinism.

Muhamba accused the Government of Malawi of lacking commitment towards provision of security to persons with albinism.

“The Government of Malawi promised that it will end these acts, but up to date APAM is still getting the reports of abduction, torture and killings of its members as well as having their tombs exhumed. APAM also wonders why Malawi Police Service treated this matter as if nothing happened. The secrecy behind handling of this case tells APAM that there are more cases of this nature that the Malawi Police Service does not want the public to be in the know.

“APAM is baffled to learn that Malawi Police Service advised the members of the village to rebury the remains without considering it to be made with a concrete. This lack of seriousness demonstrates that the security of persons with albinism in Malawi is none of their concern. To this end, APAM is calling upon the Malawi Police Service to rise to the occasion to intensify security of persons with albinism at all levels,” said Muhamba.

APAM has also challenged the Government of Malawi, through the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, to expose the existence of alleged markets for body parts of persons with albinism that are driving the attacks against them.

The association says it is long overdue since the Government of Malawi said that an underground study was instituted to uncover the existence of the alleged illegal markets that drive violence against persons with albinism.

“APAM wonders as to how long will it take for the study to be completed. This demand is coming about because issues of persons with albinism are matters of death and life. As long as the alleged markets remain unknown, persons with albinism will not enjoy their human rights to the fullest as they will continue to live in fear. Hence, Government must act decisively and expeditiously on this issue. If the study report is not released, then APAM will have no choice, but to conclude that Government of Malawi knows something about it and it is trying to hide something. APAM will then devise ways how to go about it,” emphasized Muhamba.

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