By Peter Kanjere & Rebecca Chimjeka:
Cases of attacks on people with albinism continue to be registered in the country, with the latest being the botched up abduction of a 16-year-old boy in Machinga District and a threat on a family in Lilongwe, police have confirmed.
Eastern Region police spokesperson, Joseph Sauka, Tuesday said attackers descended on the boy in Sub- Traditional Authority (T/A) Mchinguza in Machinga before dumping him.
“The victim was abducted from his house during the wee hours of last night, tied and blindfolded and taken to the bush where he was untied. Upon his abduction, his brothers realised that their brother was not in the house. They alerted their neighbours who mobilised themselves and started searching and that is when they saw the boy coming. He narrated his ordeal. Police are, therefore, thanking the public for their quick response after noting that the boy was missing,” Sauka said.
In a related incident, Lilongwe police publicist, Kingsley Dandaula, Tuesday said suspected attackers descended on the house of Jammtain Fernando, a 32-year-old man with albinism, before they vanished in Mchizanda Village, T/A Chingala. The incident happened on Friday.
“He was in his house at night when he heard people speaking outside his house. He alerted members of the community and reported the matter to police but the suspected attackers have not been identified. We are conducting patrols in the area,” Dandaula said.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Fernando is a father of five children, including three with albinism.
Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) has said Malawi remains unsafe for persons with albinism.
Apam President, Overstone Kondowe, said he was aware of the Machinga and Lilongwe incidents.
Apam has, meanwhile, organised a vigil at the State House on March 3 2019 to express their frustration at the government’s failure to take drastic measures to curb the attacks on persons with albinism.
Some 23 people with albinism have been murdered since 2014.
In a response to a questionnaire on the developments, United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, said the organisation is concerned with the rise in attacks and attempted attacks on persons with albinism in Malawi, including the killing of Yasin Phiri on December 31 2018 and the abduction of 18-month-old baby girl, Eunice Nkhonjera, in Karonga District last month.
“We welcome that suspects were reportedly arrested by the police in both cases and commend those who acted quickly to protect persons with albinism in the two cases,” Torres said.
She said UN in Malawi encourages the authorities to implement the National Action Plan on Albinism to prevent attacks, bring to justice the alleged perpetrators of these crimes while addressing the root causes of the attacks.