Police say attacks on people with albinism are declining with two attacks reported during the first half of 2021, but added that the hunt for the mythical market for body parts blamed for the attacks remains elusive.
Comparatively, 2013 registered one case which, 2014 saw a spite with seven cases recorded in that year. The trend continued sharply in the subsequent years with 2015 recording 49 cases, 60 cases in 2016, 29 cases in 2017, 24 cases in 2018, 18 cases in 2019 and four cases in 2020.
During a briefing also attended by presidential adviser on people with albinism Overstone Kondowe and Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) vice-president Leonard Zacharia in Lilongwe yesterday, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Administration) Melyne Yolamu expressed optimism that the attacks may end completely with consolidated efforts.
She said the two cases this year involved the murder in February of a boy Daison Saidi from Kadewere Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Chowe in Mangochi. She said the second case involved the theft of a 20-month-old child, Prosper Henderson, in March in Tulusida Village, T/A Ngabu in Chikwawa.
In both cases, police arrested the suspects with three nabbed in Saidi’s case. The suspects are James Pilo Khang’a, 70, from Kadewere Village, Sumaila Nicks, 45, and Gayesi Kasupe both from Chipole Village in the area of T/A Chowe in Mangochi. On the other hand, two key suspects in Henderson’s case are Saizi Chimwala, 40, and Lyford Chimwala, 35, both from Tulusida Village.
Yolamu said that since 2013, the total number of registered cases is 194 out of which 93 cases were completed, 23 are still in court at hearing stage, five cases are in court pending judgement and 73 cases are under police investigation.
She said: “These cases include murder, theft of a child, intimidation, found in possession of human bones, unlawful wounding as well as tampering with graveyard.”
Yolamu said police interventions have been two-fold; enforcement and engagement with relevant stakeholders to raise awareness and stop the barbaric act with activities, including intensified intelligence collection, patrols in the remotest of areas to increase police visibility.
On his part, Kondowe said there was still need for vigilance to ensure attacks come to a complete halt, saying the administration was committed to safeguard the lives of people with albinism.
He said: “The figures show that police are doing their work. There was a time we could have 66 cases and now the figures are two. We hope as we implement our National Action Plan, these figures will go down to zero.
“Figures also show that police have arrested so many people and demonstrate government’s commitment to end these attacks. It is assuring.”
Zacharia also hailed the police and government for interventions that have helped reduce the attacks but cautioned against complacency, saying stakeholders should continue working together to ensure such attacks no longer occur.