By Mabvuto Banda
Malawi’s top cop has issued orders to shoot and kill anyone attacking albinos in the latest bid to crack down on a rising wave of violence against albinos in the southern African nation whose body parts are prized in black magic.
“Shoot every criminal who is violent when caught red-handed abducting people with albinism,” said Inspector General of Police Lexten Kachama
He said that he was ordering police to use weapons in proportion to the crime.
“We cannot just watch while our friends with albinism are being killed like animals every day,” Kachama said when he met the Albino Association of Malawi in southern Malawi where abductions are on the rise.
In Malawi, according to a UN report, victims range in age from one to 68 years, with their limbs often being hacked off. Relatives have been implicated in the kidnapping and murder of children who have been snatched from their beds.
On March 7, police in Blantyre – commercial city of Malawi – arrested seven people who were selling bones exhumed from a grave an albino who died 2002 in Tambala Village in Mulanje.
Police spokesperson Chifundo Kansunje said that police posed as buyers of the bones and arrested the seven people.
“They were selling the bones at MK8 million (about US$19 million).”
Malawi police have in custody an uncle of an 11-year-old Malawian girl in January. He reportedly later said that he had been promised $6,500 for her body.
The UN says witch doctors pay as much as $75,000 for a full set of albino body parts, according to a Red Cross report, using them to make spells believed to bring good luck, love and wealth.
At least 15 people with albinism, mostly children, have been killed, wounded, abducted or kidnapped in East Africa in the past six months with a marked increase in Malawi, Tanzania and Burundi, according to the United Nations.
Tanzania has banned witchdoctors to try to stop the trade in body parts used in spells and charms claiming to bring luck, love and wealth, and Burundi is trying to safeguard albinos by accommodating them in housing with police protection.