Malawi Revives Death Sentence Amid Albino Killings

Lilongwe — GENDER based violence, amid the eruption of the coronavirus (COVID-19) scourge globally, has been denounced as a second pandemic.

Adding insult to injury, in Malawi, a third pandemic has emerged in the form of a recurrence of the murder of people living with albinism.

Aptly, the government has taken drastic action against this menace, with the sentencing to death of a 30-year-old father and his accomplice (aged 24) to death for killing a one-year-old baby with albinism set to be a deterrent to perpetrators.

The High Court in the central region of Kasungu has slapped capital punishment on the evil father, White Chilumpha, and his malicious accomplice, James Kanjira.

Another perpetrator, Laston Phiri (24) was slapped with a ten-year prison term.

The child was killed in April after she was abducted while sleeping with her mother in a local village.

Law enforcers recovered bones the accused had removed from the baby.

The motive behind the abduction and the murder could not be ascertained but in Malawi, false beliefs prevail that body parts of people living with albinism are a source of luck.

There are also misconceptions that families where these vulnerable members of the community are born are cursed.

The death sentences imposed in Kasungu are the first to be effected this year as the government tightens its crackdown against murderers of people with albinism.

Four people were slapped with the same sentence last year.

Three of them were involved in a single case.

Malawi had not carried out any executions since 1994. Death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.

Critics have over the years argued government was complicit in the murder of people with albinism because of lack of deterrent action against perpetrators.

Hence the heightening calls for capital punishment.

The immediate past administration of Peter Mutharika laid the foundation against these evildoers.

With the recent sentencing in Kasungu, the government of Lazarus Chakwera, at the helm since June this year, appears to be maintaining the stance.

Last week, Chakwera appointed Overstone Kondowe as special adviser on People Living with Albinism and Disability.

There are 134 000 people with albinism in Malawi, a country of over 18 million people.

Human rights groups have reported 150 cases of albino killings, attacks and other human rights violations reported here over the past five years.

Malawi has confirmed 5 761 cases of COVID-19, including 179 deaths.

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