Monday, February 8, 2016

Is Malawi Becoming blood-Thirsty Nation? If Not, Why Were The Following People with Albinism Attacked in 2014 and 2015?

Some things are giving Malawi a bad name. One of them is, definitely, the targeted attacks on people with albinism.

Some of the attacked people have escaped with scars in both their hands and hearts. But others have not been so lucky.

Below are some of the people who have either been killed, injured, of abused in one way or another:

Apart from the murder of Esnert Phiri in Kasungu, and Prescot Pepuza from Mchinji, cases of albino killings, attempted killings, abductions, and attempted abductions have been so commonplace that they are disturbing.

In January this year, a nine-year-old girl was rescued from the jaws of death in Machinga when a 24-year-old man, identified by police spokesperson Davie Sulumba as Mandela Paipi, attempted to abduct her. Paipi is said to have offered the girl's brother K500, 000 in order for him to facilitate the move.

In September 2015, an 11-year-old boy was fighting for his life at Karonga District Hospital after two men kidnapped him and tried to cut his throat and right arm in Karonga. Karonga police spokesperson, Enock Livason, said at the time that the two suspects persuaded the boy to accompany them to the market, only to turn from sheep to wolf, and turn against the unsuspecting boy.

Just last year, suspected members of a criminal gang tampered with the grave of an albino in Balaka District.

In Zomba, eight-year-old girl Maria Kosta might have thought she would return home when she decided to visit Mayaka Trading Centre on July 2, 2013. She has never been heard of again.

She suffered the same fate as Violet Kanyama, 25, but Kanyama's remains were recovered, albeit with amputated feet and no arms.

But the worst case scenario was when people attacked a Machinga District house before mid-night in February last year and abducted the family's two-year-old girl named Ibra Pilo.

Malita Makolija, 68, from Zomba disappeared on January 17, 2015, only for her headless body to be found without arms and legs.

In January this year, four people were convicted for being found in possession of bones believed to belong to an albino.

These developments last year prompted Inspector General, Lexen Kachama, to instruct police officers to shoot-to-kill those caught in the act of abducting or killing albinos. “These people are ruthless, have no mercy and, therefore, need to be treated like that [shot at].”

Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children, Women and Social Welfare, Isaac Katopola, was quoted in June, 2015 as telling AFP that citizens needed to “change their mindset and realise that albinos do not have magic powers”.
He is on record to have said that, since the spate of attacks escalated in December 2014, six albinos were officially registered as dead. This contrasted sharply with UN agencies' reports. They agencies put the figure at nine.

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