Apam set for State House vigil

Association of People with Albinism (Apam) has said it is going ahead with its planned vigil at State House to force authorities to look into their security demands.

But Minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi has discouraged the association from holding the vigil, saying it will not yield anything and that it will “only complicate matters”.

Apam members and supporters protest the attacks

Apam president Overtone Kondowe in an interview yesterday said the association is tired of government’s insignificant efforts in fighting attacks  on people with albinism, adding it is high time government addressed their security concerns.

He said the association will hold the vigil at State House on March 3 2019.

Kondowe said people with albinism want to feel secure in the country, therefore, government should ensure that those behind the attacks on people with albinism are heavily punished.

Apam, said it has noted that there are several cases that have not been concluded.

Said Kondowe: “Hearing the fate of Eunice Khonjera,  Joseph Kachingwe and the shambles being made of the Yasin Phiri’s case on top of the 22 ongoing murder cases involving persons with albinism, it is greatly unsettling that those in position of authority who are in a position to make an immediate difference, continue to pay lip service to the issues.”

He said though the National Action Plan, which government instituted in June last year, puts in place a framework of actions and measures, it is meaningless without visible political will.

“As a people, as a nation, we should be ashamed. We should each take a moment to examine ourselves and critically search our souls if the status quo is really acceptable to us all and if indeed it is something we can continue to cast a momentary glance at and ignore,” charged Kondowe.

The association has also urged Malawians to vote wisely in the coming elections to make a difference, saying the polls present an opportunity for the people to make the country a better place for everyone.

Kondowe said if the vigils do not yield results, Apam will demand that Malawi be declared an unsafe zone and they will seek help so that  people with albinism seek asylum in other countries.

But reacting to the call, Dausi  in an interview yesterday discouraged Apam from holding a vigil, saying they will not yield anything and that the association is being misguided on the proposed vigils.

He said: “Whosoever is advising them is not helping them. It’s just going to complicate things. Government is doing all it can to address the situation. These are barbaric acts that we cannot condone and we have seen people being arrested and prosecuted.”

The minister said government is committed to  fighting attacks on people with albinism and it is unfair to say it is paying lip service to the issue.

He said: “What is needed are multi-sectoral efforts to fight the vice. Government has already been engaging religious groups, community leaders and the general public to help fight against such attacks.”

Dausi said what complicates the matter is that some of the victims are betrayed by their own families or relations.

Yasin Phiri, a man with albinism, was murdered in his house in Nkhata Bay on New Year’s Eve, and three weeks later, an 18-month-old baby Eunice Nkhonjera was abducted in the night in Karonga.

So far, police have arrested seven people in connection with Phiri’s murder. n

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