High Court metes death sentences to 4 Malawians over 2016 albino killing

Written by  MBC Online

Four Malawians have been handed death sentences by the high court for the 2016 killing of an albino in Dowa, while four others were meted life sentences.

Mutharika( seated, middle) with Government and APAM officials at a previous engagement to deal with albino murders. Mutharika( seated, middle) with Government and APAM officials at a previous engagement to deal with albino murders.
02
December


The four were found to have connived and killed Enelesi Nkhata for rituals. Enelesi was a nephew to one of the concicts Gerald Phiri.


Justice Chifundo Kachale said in his ruling that the court “hereby condems you Gerald Phiri to suffer death in the manner prescribed by the law, subject to the criminal procedure and evidence code.


Others convicted on the same charge were Medson Madzialenga, Steven Chingomb’e and Jemson Baluwa. They were also sentenced to life imprisonment for the offence of trafficking in person.


Sentenced to life imprisonment for trafficking in persons were: Damdson Manyani, Damiano Phiri, Isaac Msambalume and Macdonald Kanyerere.


People living with albinism are targeted for their body parts and bones for rituals that include becoming rich.


Malawi has an estimated 134,000 PWAs, but since 2014, up to 150 cases, 26 murders and scores of abductions have been recorded by the Association of People Living with Albinism in Malawi (Apam).


A United Nations expert on Albinism warned in 2016 that witchcraft threatens the PWAs with extinction and the situation “constitutes an emergency and a crisis disturbing in its proportions.”

 

President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika this year announced some of the following key directives and interventions against albino murders and abductions:

 

.Government will set up a commission of inquiry and procure 3,000 personal security alarms to be distributed to PWAs to alert police when faced with abduction threats.

 

.A K5 million reward awaits anyone who can provide police with information leading to the arrest and prosecution of people who abduct or kill PWAs.

 

.Malawi will engage foreign investigators to probe the whereabouts of the body markets for PWAs.

 

Mutharika often condemns attacks on PWAs, saying: “It’s an evil act and inhumane, it reduces the dignity of our fellow citizens with albinism. I repeat…stop politicising albino killings and let us join hands to protect them."

 

“It is a tragedy that has befallen us that needs collective solutions. We will not be able to solve the current problems by finger pointing.”


Ikponwosa Ero, the United Nations independent expert on the enjoyment of human rights by PWAs, warned in 2016 that PWAs in Malawi are “an endangered group facing a risk of systematic extinction over time if nothing is done to stem the tide.”

 

Ero, a Nigerian national and herself a PWA, said the “frequent involvement of close relatives in cases of attacks is highly disturbing and persons with albinism are unable to trust even those who are supposed to care and protect them.”

 

She added: “Even in death, they do not rest in peace as their remains are robbed from graveyards. Attacks against a few of them constitutes a danger to all of them.”

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