Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

12 February 2013

Tanzania: Assailants Chop Off Albino's Hand in Sumbawanga

Sumbawanga — A WOMAN living with albinism, Maria Chambanenge (39) from Kavifuti in Miangalua Village, Sumbawanga District, narrowly cheated death after unknown assailants invaded her house and chopped off her left hand, before disappearing with it.

Maria is reported to have sustained severe wounds on her head after being attacked by the assailants, who were using machetes, while sleeping with her children in the house as her husband, Gabriel Yohana, was in another house belonging to his senior wife, along the next street.

According to Rukwa Regional Crime Officer, Mr Peter Ngusa, the incident occurred after mid night of February 11, this year, at Kavifuti in Miangalua Village. Narrating the grisly incident, Maria's husband Yohana (43) claimed that the suspects first locked all doors of the houses in the neghbourhood by using sisal ropes .

"It was already too late as when we got there, we first discovered that all doors were locked from outside using sisal ropes," he said. Maria was then rushed to Laela health facility where she was given first aid before being transferred to Rukwa Regional Hospital in Sumbawanga town where she is admitted for treatment.

According to scores of Maria's neighbours, who accompanied her to the regional health facility, and preferred anonymity, she was born in a family of four children, all of them albinos, while one of them identified as Selestine Chambanenge died recently after battling skin cancer for a long time.

"They were four, all albinos, now they are three as one of them, Selestine died recently due to skin cancer and the other one is living in Dar es Salaam while Maria and her sister were living at the village," said the neighbour. The medical doctor on duty at Rukwa Regional Hospital here in Sumbawanga town, Dr Rajab Lugwashi, who attended Maria described her condition as improving.

"Maria, despite losing her left hand also sustained severe head injuries She has four big wounds on her head. She also lost a lot of blood but everything has been taken care of as now I can say her condition is improving as she is positively responding to medication," added Dr Lugwashi.

At the Rukwa Regional Hospital's main gate, the 'Daily News' witnessed cars and visitors who were going in and out of the facility being thoroughly searched by sentries as a precaution to ensure that Maria remained safe while undergoing treatment.

"We have been directed to search people, cars and even satchels so that no one will dare to try to harm Maria again. "Also, vehicles are also checked so that no one will ever try to secretly take her away from the hospital where she has been admitted," added one of the sentries, who declined to reveal her name.

While contacted for comment, the Rukwa Regional Commissioner, Ms Stella Manyanya, despite condemning such cruelty, she also admitted that the incident was of its kind in the region. Four years ago, some of the people with albinism in Rukwa region had their hair cut and the suspects made away with them.

Two years ago, a minor, Juma, was reported to have gone missing but was later found in the nearby bushes at Kalema village along the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Mpanda District with his body cut with razors by unknown people. Similarly, three years ago a woman with albinism was narrowly sold by his own husband to businesspeople from neighbouring DRC at the cost of over 4.5 million.

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