The Malawian Government is handing out 1,600 personal security alarms to its albino citizens, in an attempt to stop deadly attacks on the community.
“The gadgets will be distributed to persons with albinism in all the regions in Malawi,” Cecilia Chazama, Minister for Gender, Children and Disability, said on Friday.
Albinos are targeted in Malawi and some other African countries because of the superstitious belief that their body parts are magic and can make people rich.
Francis Masambuka, an albino activist, welcomed the project but stressed that it wasn’t a cure-all solution to attacks on people with the condition, which causes lack of skin pigmentation.
“The gadgets are connected to the network of nearest police stations and once a person with albinism is under threat, they can press it and the police can rush to the scene,” he said.
No fewer than 24 people with albinism have been killed and 160 attacks reported to police since 2014, according to figures from the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi.
The emergency buttons which will be distributed on Saturday are being introduced amid continued attacks.
“Since December, 2018, one man has been reported killed and two children abducted.
In spite of the Malawian government’s promise to tackle the problem, few suspected of crimes against albinos are successfully prosecuted in court,” rights groups say
However, recall that on Friday a Malawi court sentenced a man found guilty of murdering an albino to death. The death penalty has not been carried out in Malawi for years, usually meaning life imprisonment instead.
Willard Mikaele, a 28-year-old barber from Thyol district, was found guilty of strangling to death 19-year-old Mphatso Pensulo. He said he had been advised by a witch doctor to kill a person with albinism if he wanted to get rich.
“The motive behind the killing was as devilish as it is primitive. I want to agree with the state that death sentence is appropriate as it reflects a sense of justice in the circumstances,” said Justice Maclean Kamwambe.