Last year, we reported on the killing of albinos in Malawi despite government intervention. We included in the article first-hand accounts of encounters with body part hunters that left survivors and relatives of victims with permanent scars. Today, the practice continues, and with an unlikely suspected perpetrator: a priest.
Local sources say Reverend Father Thomas Muhosha, a Roman Catholic priest, was arrested on Monday afternoon over the recent abduction and killing of MacDonald Masambuka, a 22-year-old man with albinism.
Masambuka went missing on March 9, 2018, at Duwamakawa village. He was later found dead by police on April 1 and was buried on April 2, 2018. Some of his body parts were missing.
Other suspects arrested in connection with Masambuka’s murder include a police officer and clinician. The police officer allegedly said that Muhosha was behind the trade of albino body parts.
According to local reports, 21 people with albinism have been killed in the country and 121 cases of the attacks have been recorded countrywide in the last four years. Nine cases of abduction of people with albinism have been reported this year alone.
“Persons with albinism have become targets of criminal gangs operating in Malawi who hunt them like animals for their body parts. The attacks are driven by myths that the body parts are used as lucky charms. However, there is no proof that the bones bring luck and there is no known market for the body parts,” local news Malawi24 notes.
Zomba Diocese Bishop, George Desmond Tambala, says the Catholic Church in Malawi strongly condemns the killings.
“In recent times, as a Diocese, we have spoken out against the abduction and killing of persons with albinism. It is with much sadness that we have learned of these allegations against a priest of our diocese,” said the Bishop.
Muhosha is being kept in custody at Nselema police station.