Malawi court convicts 3 men for exhuming albino corpse for witchcraft rituals

Three people who were arrested and successfully prosecuted by senior superintendent Christopher Katani for unlawfully exhuming a human corpse contrary to Sections 131 (b) and 404 of Malawi’s Penal Code have been convicted  by the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court which was  .sitting at Muloza Magistrate’s Court in Mulanje district .

The convicts Ndini (left) and Banda leave the court premises to a waiting police vehicle for jail remand

The court presided by Senior Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba heard that between April and May this year, the three; Thomas Ndini, 36, from Gladstone Village, Enock Banda, 26, from Manyamba Village and Jonas Ogara, 32, from Chibade Village, T/A Njema in Mulanje district., connived to unearth  the body of Chosadziwa Kaunda, a 16 year-old albino girl who died in 2016 due to natural causes.

Kaunda’s remains were later buried at Chibade Village in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Njema in the district.

Of the three suspects, Ndini and Banda confessed to the charge of conspiracy to unlawful exhumation of the body but all three  convicts denied any involvement in the criminal act.

But prosecution evidence tendered in court suggested that on May 30th this year the deceased’s mother, Irene Moses, was notified by village head Chibade that unknown thugs had tampered with her daughter’s concrete tomb resulting into exhumation of Kaunda’s body.

Chibade then instituted a manhunt for the suspects throughout the district in view of the then mass killings and violent acts against Malawians living with albinism over unfounded myths that the sale of albino body parts leads to huge financial gains.

However, the search proved futile and the village head reportedly ordered his subjects to rebury Kaunda’s empty coffin.

According to Police, the body has never been traced to date as the three still deny knowledge of its whereabouts.

Five witnesses including Chosadziwa’s mother, Irene Moses, Village Head Chibade and Benson Maduka who the three are alleged to have confided in of their plans to exhume the body  were paraded to prove the case.

Court documents established that prior to the exhumation, the convicts had made several attempts to persuade Maduka to be party to the plan, but he refused and later exposed the plot to Chibade who took the matter to Mulanje Police.

Nyimba observed that most of the evidence against the accused corroborated with Maduka’s statement.

The Magistrate therefore convicted them on a charge of conspiracy to exhume a dead body in accordance with Sections 259 and 260 of the criminal procedure and evidence Code.

Nyimba has since reserved his ruling to November 17 this year to allow both the prosecution and defence prepare for final submissions ahead of the sentencing.

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