Members of a witchcraft gang in Malawi have been sentenced to death for the murder and mutilation of a person with albinism.
It is very dangerous living as an Albino in Malawi. Victims are targeted for ritual killings because of a belief that their body parts have magical powers that will bring people wealth, power and economic success.
Body parts of albinos have previously been sold to witch doctors who create potions and charms.
Attacks on people with albinism have surged in Malawi in recent years. Amnesty International says at least 18 people have been killed and five others have gone missing since November 2014. In 2015, there were 45 reports of actual or attempted murder and abduction. Thousands of people – especially children – are living in fear, reluctant to go to school or anywhere else because they could be abducted and killed. In April 2016 alone, four people with albinism were murdered.
In the latest case, Douglas Mwale, Sophie Here and Fontino Folosani killed Prescott Pepuzani in 2015 using a metal bar and a hoe handle before chopping off his hands and legs and burying him in Mwale’s garden in Mchinji district, central Malawi, Nyasa Times reports.
Passing sentence on Tuesday at the High Court in Mchinji, Judge Esmey Chombo said the death sentence would act as a strong deterrent to others and help put an end to the crime.
Another man was sentenced to death in Malawi in May for murdering a teenager with albinism – the first time the death penalty had been handed down in such a case – though he has not been executed.
Malawi has not carried any executions since 1994, with death sentences commuted to life imprisonment, local sources have said.
The Malawi government will now call for people to apply to be the state’s executioner in a country where employment is hard to find.
For any executions to be carried out by the hangman, the Head of State is supposed to authorize the death sentence.
The last executioner retired after carrying out his last job before former president Bakili Muluzi. The ex-president opposed death sentence and no leader after him has not approved execution. The departure of the executioner, who was said to be struggling with his conscience left inmates on death row to have their sentences commuted to life-imprisonment on humanitarian grounds.