Malawian arrested for trying to strangle albino boy

Police in Malawi said Thursday they had arrested a man for trying to strangle to death a 16-year-old albino boy, with a rights group reporting six murders in the last three months.

The suspect had been on the run after he was caught trying to kill the 16-year-old at his home in February.

In the southern tea-growing district of Mulanje, police spokesman James Kadadzera said the man would soon appear in court on a charge of attempted murder.

As in other parts of Africa, albinos in Malawi are killed for their body parts, which are sold for witchcraft.

Six albinos have been killed in the impoverished southern African country since December, according to the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi.

Malawian albinos are “living in fear of being attacked or killed” because of the recent spate of murders, association director Boniface Massah said.

Belief in witchcraft runs deep in Malawi and albino body parts are often used in rituals. Even the bodies of dead albinos are sometimes exhumed and sold.

Earlier this week, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein denounced attacks against albinos as “stunningly vicious, with children in particular being targeted”.

Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition that causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.

Countries in east and west Africa are worst affected, and Tanzania near Malawi has one of the highest attack rates.

In Tanzania, body parts sell for around $600 and an entire corpse fetches $75,000, according to the UN.

On Thursday, Tanzanian police said over 200 people have been arrested as part of a nationwide crackdown on witchdoctors linked to a wave of albino attacks and murders.

Albinism in Tanzania affects one in 1,400 births, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say.

Photo Credits : AFP

Tanzania must halt violence against albinos: UN rights chief

The UN human rights chief harshly condemned Thursday the murder and mutilation of an albino toddler in Tanzania, demanding authorities protect albinos, whose body parts are used for witchcraft in the country.

“Violence and discrimination against people with albinism must be halted,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement, condemning “the horrific murder and mutilation of Yohana Bahati.”

The one-year old boy was seized by men with machetes from his home in northern Tanzania’s Chato district overnight Saturday, and his mother was badly injured in the attack.

Police found his body, with his arms and legs hacked off, on Tuesday.

Zeid said attacks on people with albinism, which are often motivated by the use of body parts for witchcraft rituals, had claimed the lives of at least 75 people since 2000.

He warned that the attacks seemed to be on the rise, with at least three incidents over the past two months.

“I call on the Tanzanian authorities to swiftly investigate and prosecute perpetrators of this terrible crime and to strengthen its protection measures for people with albinism,” Zeid said.

The UN repeated its fears that the uptick in attacks against albinos could be linked to looming general and presidential elections in October 2015, as political campaigners may be turning to influential sorcerers to improve their odds.

“This is the year of elections in Tanzania and, as some analysts have suggested, it could be a dangerous year for people living with albinism,” UN country chief Alvaro Rodriguez warned Wednesday.

Albino body parts sell for around $600 in Tanzania, with an entire corpse fetching $75,000, according to the UN.

Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. It affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say. In the West, it affects just one person in 20,000.

Photo Credits : AFP

Tanzania bans witchdoctors over albino attacks

BBC – Tanzania has banned witchdoctors in a move intended to stop attacks on people with albinism.

Home Affairs Minister Mathias Chikawe said there would be a nationwide operation to “arrest them and take them to court” if they continued to work.

Albino people, who lack pigment in their skin, have faced attacks for their body parts, which witchdoctors believe bring good luck and wealth.

More than 33,000 people in Tanzania are believed to have albinism.

Seventy have been killed in the past three years but only 10 people have been convicted of murder.

Mr Chikawe said action to find and prosecute witchdoctors would begin in two weeks’ time in the northern areas of Mwanza, Geita, Shinyanga, Simiyu and Tabora, where most of the attacks have taken place.

The ban has emerged from the work of a special joint task force between police and the TAS.

The task force’s work will now entail reviewing previous cases of albino attacks for new evidence and conducting further research on the motive of attackers.

KikoRomeo keeps promise to Lupita Nyong’o

KikoRomeo took the runway at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg recently. The Kenyan fashion line opened with Sanele, a model with albinism, wearing a sweatshirt with the slogan “It’s in my DNA” emblazoned on the front.

Speaking about this, head designer Ann McCreath said: “Many years ago I was challenged by Lupita Nyong’o to put people with albinism on the runway, so that they could be viewed as beautiful just like anyone else. After watching her movie ‘In My Genes’ I really wanted to contribute to the reduction of stigmatism around albinism, and tonight I have been given that opportunity.”

Oscar winner Lupita is known for championing the rights of people with albinism in Kenya. She pushed the message further through her documentary titled In My Genes.

KikoRomeo took the runway at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg recently. The Kenyan fashion line opened with Sanele, a model with albinism, wearing a sweatshirt with the slogan “It’s in my DNA” emblazoned on the front.

Speaking about this, head designer Ann McCreath said: “Many years ago I was challenged by Lupita Nyong’o to put people with albinism on the runway, so that they could be viewed as beautiful just like anyone else. After watching her movie ‘In My Genes’ I really wanted to contribute to the reduction of stigmatism around albinism, and tonight I have been given that opportunity.”

Oscar winner Lupita is known for championing the rights of people with albinism in Kenya. She pushed the message further through her documentary titled In My Genes.

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KikoRomeo on the runway (gq.co.za)