Tanzania jails 'albino trafficker'

Kenyan sentenced to 17 years for trying to sell an albino man to witchdoctors.

    Albinos have been targeted across east Africa
    for use in witchcraft [File]

    Mutei, 28, was arrested earlier this week for trying to sell Robinson Mkwana, who is also a Kenyan, for $263,000. 

    Albino warning

    Mkwana told the Reuters news agency that Mutei brought him from Kenya to the neighbouring country saying he would help him get a job.

    "I am warning albinos to not accept people who are pretending they want to help you to secure a job, while they are looking to make some money by selling you," he said.

    "This man should have been sentenced to life in prison because he knew very well that this poor albino he was trying to sell would have been butchered"

    Zihada Ali Msembo,
    Tanzania Albino Society

    At least 53 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2007 and their body parts sold for use in witchcraft.

    Albino hunters kill their victims and then take their bodies to witchdoctors, who use the body parts to make potions, which they believe will bring them good luck and prosperity in life.

    Most of the killings have reportedly taken place in the remote northwest regions of Mwanza and Shinyanga.

    Albinism is a rare congenital disorder in which people lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. There are around 170,000 albinos living in Tanzania.
     
    A Tanzanian albino rights group applauded the court's judgment, but called for tougher punishment for offenders.

    "We are happy with the quick conclusion of the trial, because these cases have been dragging on for too long," Zihada Ali Msembo, the secretary general of the Tanzania Albino Society, said.

    "However, we feel that nine years in jail is such a lenient sentence. This man should have been sentenced to life in prison because he knew very well that this poor albino he was trying to sell would have been butchered."

    Election fears

    The east African country is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in October and the Albino rights group has voiced fears that there could be a new wave of killings in the country ahead of the vote.

    It is common for some politicians to visit witchdoctors during elections in belief that their powers will boost their chances of victory.

    "There is talk around the country that the entire albino population could be wiped out by the time the general election is over," Msembo said.

    "We don't know whether or not to believe these stories, but albinos are now certainly living in fear."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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