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Nearly 260 witch doctors, traditional healers, and soothsayers have been arrested in Tanzania as part of the government’s ongoing crackdown on the nation’s albino murders, according to the BBC.
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Last week alone, authorities detained 32 witch doctors in light of two internationally reported killings of toddlers in the past three months.
Face2Face Africa previously reported on officials finding the remains of 1-year-old Yohana Bahati who was abducted from his mother’s house last month:
Bahati, who was albino, was reportedly snatched from his mother’s residence on Sunday.
This week, officials found Bahati’s mutilated body just a few miles from his home in the north.
All of his limbs were hacked off with a machete.
And then just days before the start of the New Year, 4-year-old Pendo Emmanuelle Nundi (pictured) was kidnapped.
And while officials have made arrests — including the girl’s father — Nundi is yet to be found. Nundi’s death moved officials to ban all witch doctors in the country in January.
The harrowing murders have tarnished the image of the country, prompting Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete to use his monthly address as a platform to speak out against the targeting of albinos.
Of his personal feelings about the albino killings, President Kikwete said, “I’m shocked and saddened at the sudden upsurge in these macabre killings.”
The President then went on to dispel the misinformation about albinos.
“It is a false belief that if someone has the body part of a person with albinism, this will bring success in business, fishing and mining activities. This is what has been fueling this ongoing evil.”
Finally, speaking to the increasingly negative perception of his country, President Kikwete said, “I believe with the close co-operation between the government and society, we will succeed in ending these killings of persons with albinism and rid our nation of this shame.”
Speaking about what has been found at the recent arrests of witch doctors in Tanzania, Police Spokesperson Advera Bulimba said, “Some of those arrested were found in possession of items like lizard skin, warthog teeth, ostrich eggs, monkey tails, bird claws, mule tails and lion skin.”
Obviously, authorities are hoping that the mass arrests will force those responsible for targeting albinos to stop their activities.