Police in Malawi have arrested a woman and two men believed to be behind the ongoing albino killings in the country.
Mary Gumbo, a middle-aged woman, is said to be a prime buyer of albino bones in Machinga District, eastern Malawi. Police say Gumbo had hired the two men to collect bones of people who suffered from albinism and leprosy.
The two male suspects, Mohammed James and Mussa Kachepa, were found in possession of human bones, which they said were exhumed from the graves of albinos and lepers.
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Nyasa Times reports that the two men have already pleaded guilty to charges of being in possession of human remains, which is contrary to section 129 of the Malawian Penal Code.
Gumbo has been charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and will remain in police custody to allow further investigations into the matter.
“They pleaded guilty to the charges laid against them in court and the case is yet to be concluded,” said Machinga police spokesman Dave Sulumba.
Ritual Albino Killings in Malawi
For several years, there has been a steady rise in the number of albinos in Malawi who have been killed and their bodies mutilated, even as the government continues to condemn the heinous acts.
Malawian police believe the current rise in albino killings in the southern African country is a result of increasing demand for albino body parts, which are mainly used by witch doctors to allegedly bring good luck and wealth.
Amnesty International says over 18 people with albinism have been killed in Malawi since November 2014 and further warns that many more are at risk of being killed or abducted if the government doesn’t the solve the problem immediately.
According to the international human rights organization, women and children living with albinism are more vulnerable because people are being wrongly advised by witch doctors to have sex with albinos to cure HIV/AIDs.
The organization further argues that most of the albino killings in Malawi are opportunistic, driven by greed, and fueled by rumors that vast sums of money can be made by selling body parts of people with albinism.
“Poor police investigations may also have allowed perpetrators of murders to avoid facing serious charges, particularly in cases where suspects were arrested in possession of human bones,” Amnesty International concluded in its recent report.