The shocking revelation of the arrest of a Catholic priest and other public servants by police on suspicion that they were involved in the abduction and brutal murder of Macdonald Masambuka, a young man with albinism from Machinga, has raised eyebrows and more questions over the connections in the barbaric act which have tarnished the image of the country.
So far, police have arrested 12 people over the killing of Masambuka including the priest, a clinical officer, a police officer, two witchdoctors and other people who include Masambuka’s close relations.
The Association of People with Albinism (Apam) says it is scared with the news adding that albinos are in great danger as they have nowhere to run.
Father Thomas Muhosha of Mulombozi Parish in Zomba was arrested on Monday and is being investigated by the Eastern Region Police after he was mentioned as one of the people who took part in the brutal killing of Masambuka.
The body of 22 year-old Masambuka, who hailed from Nakawa village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Nkoola in Machinga was found on April 1 buried within the district after he was reported missing in March this year.
Police traced the body following confessions from initial suspects who had been arrested in connection to the crime.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Apam President Overstone Kondowe said the news has raised a lot of questions in regard to the safety of persons with albinism in the country as churches have always been regarded as a safe refuge.
He said taking into account that other suspects in the case are some relations of the deceased, a police officer and a clinic officer, the nation needs to start thinking deep on the issue which has been always attached to myths and ignorance.
Said Kondowe: “If police officers and church leaders are being implicated in such cases then who should we trust? The church has always been regarded as a citadel and police are entrusted to provide security to people, this really signifies tough times on the outside.”
On the other hand, Kondowe said the news is a breakthrough as it signifies that the nation is heading towards the direction to pin down true master minders of the act.
“All along, people who have been arrested over these issues have been of low profile, this is a breakthrough and we believe more is coming, I can foresee more high profile people being arrested, even politicians. We expect justice to take its charge regardless of the status of the people involved or the kind of money they have, we want them to get tough sentences if found guilty,” he said.
Confirming the arrest, national police spokesperson James Kadadzera said currently, Father Muhosha is being kept by the Eastern Region Police where he is being questioned. He is yet to be charged.
He said: “As of now the number of those arrested has reached 12, but investigations are still continuing and evidence is being compiled, we believe more people will be arrested.”
In a press statement released on Monday, Bishop George Tambala of the Zomba diocese distanced the church from Muhosha’s alleged conduct saying the church defends the sanctity of human life and the killings of persons with albinism is a violation to that sanctity. The church has since suspended the suspected priest over the matter.
Reads the statement in part: “The diocese like the rest of the Catholic Church has always strongly condemned the killings of persons with albinism. It is with sadness, profound shock and shame that we have leant of these allegations against a priest from our diocese.”
He further said the diocese is in full cooperation with the arms of law to see to it that truth and justice prevails in the case.