Father of MacDonald Masambuka, a young man with albinism gruesomely killed in Machinga in 2018, says while his family applauds life sentences meted to five of the 12 accomplices, he feels the convicts deserved death sentences.
White Masambuka was reacting to the sentences former High Court of Malawi Judge Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga, now a Justice of Appeal, served on the five who included MacDonald’s blood brother, Cassim.
In an interview at the court, he said: “We have received the sentence, but I feel they deserved to die as well. My son was killed and I will never see him again.”
The court lined up seven charges against the 12 convicts including Catholic priest Father Thomas Muhosha, police officer Chikondi Chileka, the deceased’s brother Cassim Masambuka and Machinga District Hospital clinical officer Lumbani Kamanga.
They were charged for murder, causing another person to cause harm to a person with albinism, causing another person to cause harm to a person with a disability, transacting in human tissue, extracting human tissue, possession of human tissue and trafficking in person.
The court observed that the convicts took advantage of the deceased’s psychological need for love and lured him into believing they had found a prospective wife for him yet it was a trap to murder him.
Passing the sentence yesterday in Blantyre, Kamanga gave five of the convicts, namely Maxwell Sosola, Cassim Masambuka, Dickson Ndengu, Bashir Lilongwe and Alfred Yohane life imprisonment on the first count of murder.
On the second and third counts, the court sentenced Master Injesi, Lumbani Kamanga, Cassim Masambuka and Luckiness Magombo to 60 years imprisonment each.
The judge sentenced Muhosha, who looked frail and sick yesterday, Chileka and three others to 30 years imprisonment each on count four of transacting in human tissue.
Kamanga said despite being first offenders, the convicts deserved a stiffer punishment due to the aggravating factors of the case.
She said: “The convicts were callous and heartless to the victim. They deserve a life imprisonment. Muhosha and Chileka held positions of trust and by committing these offences, they breached that trust. The convicts should be subjected to hard labour to facilitate their rehabilitation.”
Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) Machinga district chairperson Byson Makolopa and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace national coordinator Boniface Chibwana hailed the sentences and described them as deterrent.
Chibwana said: “As one of the civil society organisations that has been following the issue, we are impressed that the convicts have been given maximum sentences because at the end of the day we would want to deter other would-be offenders.”
The defence through Malawi Legal Aid Bureau director Masauko Chamkakala said they are yet to consult their clients to map the way forward.
“We are not shocked, we did not expect this. But it’s part of the process,” he said.
But prosecution through senior State advocate Pirirani Masanjala expressed satisfaction with the sentences, saying considering that some of the convicts were convicted on several counts, most of them will spend a life time in prison.
Masambuka, 22, went missing on March 9 2018 and his body was later found buried in a garden on April 2 2018 near Makawa Village in Senior Chief Mkoowola in Machinga.
In May this year, the High Court of Malawi sitting in Mangochi also sentenced three people to a collective 155 years imprisonment each after being found guilty of killing Saidi Dyton, 23, a person with albinism.
In December 2019, the High Court in Lilongwe sentenced to death four people for the 2016 killing of a 21-year-old woman with albinism in Dowa.
Last October, the High Court sitting in Nkhata Bay sentenced Frank Mkweni Thonje, 21, and Bonzo Chirwa, 57, to life imprisonment for the murder of a person with albinism.