Members of Parliament meeting in Lilongwe have expressed concerns over the lack of protection and delay of justice in cases of violence against people with albinism in the country with former State vice-president Khumbo Kachali requesting for speedy trials of suspected ritual killers.
Kachali, who is legislator for the area (Mzimba South West), asked Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Cecilia Chazama and Ministry of Justice speedy trials expressing concern that the longer they take the more suspicions grow with the suspects.
He made the request when he was commenting on a ministerial statement from Chazama.
“Through you, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Honourable Minister has just alluded to the fact that they were 11 suspects but now they are 22. I do not know how many suspects there will be next month. In so doing, there will be other innocent people being implicated. As a result of that, when these things are being delayed, it does not augur very well,” said Kachale.
He continued: “Mr Speaker, Sir, my humble request is that the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Judiciary should fast-track such cases in order to bring back the confidence of people. The issue of investigation rests there. When you are investigating you cannot question but through their offices I think they can fast-track the issue so that we can see justice being administered.”
Kachali pointed out that “justice delayed is justice denied”.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu, said what Kachali said was “ very sensible and reasonable proposal “.
Tembenu said his ministry has had discussions with the Judiciary especially the Chief Justice on how best to speed up the trials of the albino murders.
“The major challenge that we are having is that, against this tragedy, we also have a backlog of other cases. So, whilst every effort is being made to handle these cases with speed, there are also other cases that are being handled at the same time and because of the limited personnel and capacity, we are trying to strike a very good compromise so that no other case is left behind,” he said.
Tembenu said discussions were underway with prosecutors to speed up cases on the attacks and killings of people with albinism.
The Justice Minister however rejected calls to have a special tribunal for albino cases.
“We have so many things that happen in this country and if we are to respond to each one of those by establishing a special tribunal, a challenge that we will have is that it is the same people who are manning the courts at the moment who would also have to be assigned to those other places.
“We have cases of corruption, financial crimes, murder, name them, so as I said that we are doing our best. We are engaging with the Judiciary to see how best we can fast track the trials of these cases. We have noted the concerns and we will respond accordingly,” said Tembenu.
Among the legislators who quizzed ministers to explain why no case had been thoroughly investigated and prosecuted was Bon Kalindo, who in 2016 led the naked demonstrations in protest of the attacks against albino patients. He bemoaned the government’s laxity in bringing the atrocities to an end.
“We hear on radios that armed police and army officers are guarding our animals in the game reserves, but we do not hear anything on the same happening to our albino brothers and sisters who continue to be attacked and killed brutally,” said Kalindo.
Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Cecilia Chazama, assured the parliamentarians that that a number of suspects had been arrested.
Chazama said investigations on a number of cases were at an advanced stage and that soon Malawians would see justice taking its course as those convicted would be brought to book.
At least 22 people with albinism, among them women and children, have been brutally killed in Malawi since 2013 while over 150 cases of attacks and murder attempts on albinistic patients have been reported to police.
The criminal acts were first reported in neighboring Tanzania before spilling over to Malawi where security agencies are yet to get down to the source of the ritual beliefs.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :