LILONGWE (Brian Ligomeka, News24) – Malawians living with albinism have expressed concern that, besides living in constant fear of being abducted or killed, they also endure painful ridicule as some citizens pour scorn on them.
Presenting the various challenges they faced, during an audience with President Peter Mutharika, the executive director of the Association of People living with Albinism in Malawi, Boniface Massa, said they were currently “living in hell and not in a nation nicknamed as the warm heart of Africa”.
“When we are moving in the streets, some Malawians are calling us ‘moving cash’ or ‘mobile money’, insinuating that if they could abduct us they could sell us very quickly,” he said.
Massa said such insults and threats were psychologically tormenting, considering that a number of albinos had been brutally murdered.
According to Massa, the ongoing killings had affected the albino community in the country, as most of them feared carrying out various economic activities, such as businesses, while children with albinism were dropping out of schools.
President urges strong police action
Responding to the concerns, Mutharika said his administration was taking serious steps against the criminal behaviour and had so far intensified surveillance and investigations.
“Abducting, maiming, killing or exhuming the remains of people with albinism is criminal,” said Mutharika, urging the police to “treat albino killers accordingly”.
At least six people living with albinism have been killed this year alone in the southern African country.
Mutharika met the association members just a day after two Malawian men were sentenced to 25 years in jail for the murder of a 17-year-old albino boy.
The two, Vuto Biswick and Emmanuel Robert, abducted and murdered Davis Fletcher on April 23 from Malawi’s central district of Dedza.
The boy’s body was discovered in neighbouring Mozambique a week after his abduction.
Local and international human rights groups faulted Malawi for failing to offer adequate protection to people living with albinism.