from MAVHUTO BANDA in Lilongwe, Malawi
LILONGWE, (CAJ News) – A 26-year-old man killed, an infant missing and an adolescent girl surviving abduction, the horrific violation of people with albinism has returned to haunt Malawi.
This again renders it one of the most hostile countries for this vulnerable group.
The conviction, nonetheless, of culprits and the arrest of suspects, including the mother of the missing 20-month-old girl and her father-in-law, indicates the wheels of justice are turning after years of impunity.
In the latest in a series of horrors against individuals with albinism in Malawi, the infant has mysteriously gone missing in the central region of Chikwakwa.
She went missing at the end of March after an abduction while she slept with her mother at the local Tulusida village.
Five suspects have been arrested in relation with the incident. Among those include the baby’s 21-year-old mother and the infant’s paternal grandfather.
The child had at the time of publication not been found, even after police recently pledged a KSh1 million (US$1 269) reward for the provision of information about the whereabouts of the minor.
The worst is feared.
In another cases involving a minor with albinism, a 12-year-old girl narrowly survived abduction by two unknown assailants who broke into her home in the southern Machinga district.
The men fled after the girl’s mother shouted for assistance.
Meanwhile, Saidi Dyton is the latest individual to be killed after assailants pounced in the Mngochi district, also in the south.
Three people have been arrested but the body of Dyton, who had been missing since the end of January, has not been recovered.
The suspects have reportedly confessed to police that they sold to a third accomplice who, at the time of publication, was still at large.
People with albinism in the Southern African country have endured attacks fuelled by false beliefs that their body parts bring wealth and good luck.
It is feared some 170 individuals, including 20 killed, have been brutalised since 2014 when the violations peaked.
“People with albinism are simply not safe in Malawi, whether in their homes or on the street,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Southern Africa.
“These attacks are fuelled by a culture of impunity which has been gone on for past related crimes. Malawian authorities must swiftly move to bring suspected perpetrators of these latest crimes to justice in fair trials.”
Menard Zacharia, Executive Director of the Association of Persons with Albinism, reminded that the government of President Lazarus Chakwera had an obligation under domestic and international human rights law to protect people with albinism and ensure justice to victims of the attacks and killings.
In a recent breakthrough ruling, a court in Nkhata Bay convicted two people for killing a person with albinism at the end 2018.
Courts have in recent years meted death sentences for such offences.
Albinism is a lack of pigmentation in the eyes, skin and/or hair.
According to the 2018 Malawi Population and Housing Census Report, there are 134 000 individuals with albinism in the Southern African country of 18,14 million.
– CAJ News