An archbishop in Malawi has accused the government of not doing enough to stop the marketing of the bones of people with albinism.
Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre said Malawi’s National Intelligence Bureau and other police agencies “could have identified the market for the bones in order to end the killings of the people with albinism.”
Albinism is a congenital condition which leaves a person without coloration in their skin and hair.
In parts of Africa, some witch doctors claim the use of albino body parts in magic potions can be used to bring good luck. Some allege sex with albinos can cure HIV/AIDS, putting albinos at risk of sexual assault.
Since 2013, at least 26 albinos have been murdered in Malawi alone – at least five were killed in 2018, including one man on Dec. 31.
“Although some people have been arrested for albinism-related crimes, we have serious concerns about the inadequacy of police investigations, and perpetrators being dealt sentences not in line with the severity of the crime,” said a statement from Amnesty International.
According to Under the Same Sun, an NGO which supports albinos, it is estimated that 1 in every 5,000 – 15,000 people are born with albinism in Africa, with some areas having a rate as high as 1 in every 1000. In North America and Europe, the rate is 1 in every 17,000 to 20,000.
There are an estimated 10,000 albinos in Malawi.
Last year, a Catholic priest – Father Thomas Muhosha – was implicated in the killing of 22-year-old McDonald Masambuka, an albino Muslim, who was found buried in Matchinga on April 1 after he went missing in the previous month.
The bishops condemned the murder, issuing a statement saying the Catholic Church “defends the sanctity of life at any point of a person’s life and the killing of albinos is a direct violation of the sanctity of life.”
Msusa said the police should have already “bust[ed] the syndicate” trafficking in human body parts.