Archbishop Thomas Msusa of the Blantyre Archdiocese of the Catholic Church has questioned the competence of security agencies in the country for failing to bust albino markets years after attacks on people with albinism were brought to light.
Reports of killings and abductions of persons with albinism in the country escalated in 2014, with records showing at least 23 have been killed since then, the recent one being that of Yasin Kwenda Phiri, 54, in Nkhata Bay.
Speaking on Saturday in Mulanje on the side-lines of a tree planting exercise organised by the Catholic Church and National Bank of Malawi, Msusa said the gruesome murder of Phiri on December 31 should act as a wakeup call for the country and its security agents to end the barbaric acts.
He said: “Just when we thought these barbaric acts were over, our brother was murdered in Nkhata Bay. It is surprising that despite arresting perpetrators, our security agents are failing to squeeze those criminals to lead them to the markets, which is the most crucial step in dealing with these inhumane acts.
“As a nation, we need to question ourselves as to where are the murderers getting the conviction to continue doing this? It definitely means the market is there. Now the question is, what are our police doing? Where is our National Intelligent Bureau in all this? Why as a nation are we failing to crack down on the markets four years down the line.”
He challenged every citizen, including government, security agents, the Church, business community and the media to fight to end the abductions and killings.
Commenting on President Peter Mutharika’s directive that all perpetrators should be locked up in prison for life, the Catholic Archbishop highlighted that tracing the markets remains the best solution in dealing with the vice.
Mutharika, during the launch of Chiwanja Cha Ayao in Balaka last week, condemned Phiri’s killing, saying government will ensure the perpetrators get the life sentence to “rot in jail”.
But Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) president Overstone Kondowe described Mutharika’s sentiments as recycled assurances.
Phiri was brutally murdered in his house at Kande Trading Centre in Nkhata Bay on New Year’s Eve in the presence of his nine-year-old son.
Kondowe said it is unfortunate that government keeps on recycling false assurances which do not match its actions on the ground.
He said it would be important that a special court be established to speed up cases related to people with albinism and equip them with shotguns for self-defence.
Phiri’s murder has been condemned by various stakeholders, including Apam, the United Nations (UN), Malawi Law Society (MLS), Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Public Affairs Committee (PAC).
Police have since arrested four in connection to the murder which brings to at least 23 the number of persons with albinism killed in the country since 2014.