Malawi: Ntaba Dismisses Apam's 'Ultimatum' On Person With Albinism Killings Report

29 March 2020

Presidential adviser on local policies Hetherwick Ntaba has rejected Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) 7-day "ultimatum", up to Monday to release a report of a Commission of Inquiry President Peter Mutharika appointed to investigate killings and abductions of persons with albinism.

Ntaba, who is also chairperson of a committee tasked to fight against abuse of persons with albinism, called Apam's ultimatum unfortunate and unnecessary.

He said the commission of inquiry ran out of funds and it also asked for more time.

According to Ntaba, K40 million would be released by this week to the commission and as such they will need more time to complete investigations.

Ntaba further dismissed speculations that the President had received the report but did not want to make it public.

"The people working in the taskforce are very reputable people including the president who appointed the commission hence we cannot sit on something that is very important," said Ntaba.

Apam's president Ian Desmond Simbota in a published statement unconditionally demanded the release of the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Killings of PWAs by March 30 2020.

He said the commission of inquiry was appointed on March 5 2019 and was expected to give a report to Mutharika on April 30 2019, but nothing happened.

"The commission had ample time. At one point in January, chairperson of the commission, retired Supreme Court judge Justice Richard Chinangwa, told the media that they were not doing anything as they were waiting to get some instructions from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC)," he said.

Simbota said their ultimatum stands that government should release the report, warning that Apam would take unspecified options.

Apparently, Ntaba is among high-profile politicians of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who are implicated by suspects in the murders of MacDonald Masambuka, a person with albinism, that he was the one who sent the suspect to abduct and kill him.

Ntaba was implicated by one of the murder suspects; Alfred Yohane that prompted trial judge Zione Ntaba to recuse herself from the murder case of Masambuka, after her uncle Hetherwick Ntaba was implicated.

A celebrated writer and commentator Stanley Onjezani Kenani said Ntaba should have resigned as presidential aide.

Kenani further bemoaned that the justice system in Malawi is "rigged against the poor", stating that Buleya Lule, a key suspect in the abduction of a boy with albinism, was killed "like a dog" in police custody "at the mere mention of his [Ntaba] name.

"Professor So-and-so and Dr. So-and-so, at the mention of their names in a court of law, a gag order was hastily issued, and the accused was told to shut up," Kenani wrote on social media in apparent reference with Judge Ntaba's order to media not to shield the names of high profile ruling party politicians implicated by the suspects.

Malawi, one of the world's poorest and most aid-dependent countries, has experienced a surge in violent attacks on people with albinism over the past four years.

In many cases, those with albinism are targeted for their body parts to be used in witchcraft.

Albinism, a genetic disorder, causes a partial or total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.

As a result, many albinos often experience eye problems and have a heightened risk of skin cancer.

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