Seven men between the age of 30-34 were burnt to death for witchcraft after a bag with human bones which looked like a butchered albino was recovered in it. The men were rounded up and burnt one after the other when a member of theirs confessed to possessing albino bones. The incident occurred in Nsanje, the southernmost district of Malawi, NyasaTimes reports.
Head of Nsanje district police, Kirdy Kaunga said: “The victims were ‘found in possession of human bones’ and the mob took it upon themselves to burn them with petrol”.
The gang who set them ablaze also included local children who suspected the questionable movement and phone conversations one of the seven was making; efforts to view what was in their bag revealed the bones of a slaughtered albino which spiraled the lynching, according to reports by a Malawian traditional chief, Tengani.
Chief Tengani said: ‘He was chased and arrested. The man is said to have confirmed that his bag contained human bones and that’s when the mob began rounding up the seven and burned them, one by one.’
Police spokesman for the southern region, James Kadazera said: “so far there have been no arrests and experts would also conduct a postmortem on the bones in the bag ‘to establish whether they are albino humans or not. We also want to find out who actually torched these people. Police condemned ‘mob justice’ where members of the public took the law into their own hands. Identification of the victims was proving difficult due to their severe injuries”.
Last year, the United Nations Children’s Fund in Malawi initiated a probe into the cradle of the albino murders; other UN agencies also revealed that nine albinos have been killed in Malawi since a surge in attacks which began in December 2014.
In September 2015, a teacher was apprehended on dubiety to ‘sell an albino schoolgirl for $10,000’. There are few cases awaiting trial in relation to albino-related crimes, such as possession of albino-bones, abduction and even outright murder.
Several African countries including Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania use albinos for witchcraft rituals. Albinos who have white skin and yellow hair as a result of a genetic disorder are regularly killed for their body parts.
There have been awareness events by the Malawian government to educate and protect these endangered minority in the country.