7 Nov 2010

Tanzania: 13-year-old albino boy killed for body parts sold for use in witchcraft

The Vancouver Sun - Reuters September 23, 2009

Three men to hang for Tanzania albino murder

By George Obulutsa | Reuters

DAR ES SALAAM - Tanzania's high court on Wednesday sentenced three men to hang for the murder of a 13-year-old albino boy, killed for his body parts in the country's northwest, local media and a rights group said.

At least 53 albinos have been killed since 2007 in the east African nation and their body parts sold for use in witchcraft, especially in the remote northwest regions of Shinyanga and Mwanza where superstition is rife.

Witchdoctors say the body parts of albinos — who lack pigment in their skin, eyes and hair — bring luck in love, life and business. One of the accused was found with two legs belonging to the deceased, Matatizo Dunia, local radio said. Canadian albino rights group, Under The Same Sun, welcomed the court's decision but noted that this was just one judgment out of 53 deaths.

"This is one conviction. There are 52 other families still awaiting justice," Peter Ash, the group's founder and director, told Reuters by telephone from London.

The government has opened at least 15 cases against suspects involved in the killings, in which body parts like hair, genitals, arms and legs are taken for use by witchdoctors. Authorities have arrested more than 90 people, including four police officers, for their involvement in the murders or trade of albino body parts.

The killings have sullied Tanzania's reputation for relative calm in the region, and drawn condemnation from the United Nations and European Union.

In neighbouring Burundi, at least 11 albinos have been killed since last year. So far 13 people have been convicted, including one who received a life sentence. 1/8ID:nLN267950 3/8

Authorities in Burundi say people in Tanzania ordered the killings.

This article was found at:



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  1. UN Condemns Surge of 'Vicious' Witchcraft Attacks on Albinos in Tanzania

    by Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post March 6, 2013

    U.N. human rights officials condemned a recent surge of violence against Albinos in Tanzania in connection with witchcraft beliefs and practices.

    "I strongly condemn these vicious killings and attacks, which were committed in particularly horrifying circumstances, and which have involved dismembering people, including children, while they are still alive," said Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to Reuters.

    Albinos, who are people born with a congenital disorder caused by the absence of pigment in the skin, have traditionally suffered great hardships in Africa. They have been subject to grotesque crimes, such as having their limbs chopped off by practitioners of indigenous religions.

    Some witchcraft practitioners believe that albino body parts can be used for creating potions, charms and curses, and are funded by locals and foreigners who pay high money for favorable spells.

    "These crimes are abhorrent," Pillay added. As many as 72 people have been killed in Tanzania since 2000, but only five people have successfully been convicted. In January a string of new attacks were reported in Kanunge village in Tabora region, which resulted in the death of a 7-year-old albino boy.

    "His attackers slashed his forehead, right arm and left shoulder and chopped off his left arm just above the elbow," the U.N. High Commissioner commented, revealing that the boy's 95-year-old grandfather was also killed trying to protect him.

    And in February, a 39-year-old female albino was murdered by a gang of five armed men in Mkowe village in Rukwa region.

    "They hacked off her left arm while she was sleeping with two of her four children," Pillay revealed.

    In the village of Msia, also in Rukwa, a 10-year-old boy was attacked on his way home from school by two unidentified men who chopped of his arm above the elbow, though he survived.

    "The Tanzanian authorities have the primary responsibility to protect people with albinism, and to fight against impunity, which is a key component for prevention and deterrence of the crimes targeting this exceptionally vulnerable community," Pillay added.

    Christianity and Islam are the dominant religions in Tanzania, but practitioners of the occult are still active in certain villages and more rural areas.

    In February, a senior Florida priest was shot dead before a church service in Tanzania, though the attackers are believed to be Islamists.

    Another Catholic priest was wounded on his way home from church on Christmas Day, pointing to tensions between the religious communities in the African country.


  2. Polygamy turns junior wives into slaves

    by Marc Nkwame Daily News Tanzania March 10, 2013

    WOMEN from marginalized communities in Arusha and Manyara regions are up in arms against polygamy, which has reduced them into ‘slaves’ of senior wives.

    Elsewhere, a new wife wedded to an already married man becomes the favourite but it is not so among the Maasai or Datoga communities where elder wives continue to call all shots at the expense of younger wives.

    “In most cases, women from the Maasai, Datoga and Hadza communities suffer under male chauvinism where men harass them at will. But under polygamy, older wives too have also become tormentors.

    They beat and insult junior wives,” lamented Mrs Paulina Longu, a Barbaig lady hailing from Hanang District in Manyara region.

    Other women from Hadza tribe of Yaeda-Mbulu and Maasai communities from Loliondo division of Ngorongoro have also recounted similar tales of mistreatment. The women gathered in Arusha city to mark the International Women’s Day last Friday. Three organizations focused on protection of the rights of marginalized communities teamed up to organize the event.

    According to the women, younger wives were always treated as slaves, doing all tedious manual work, physically assaulted and insulted by older wives. Even their children suffered the consequences from elder brothers and sisters from other women in the family.

    This happens among the Maasai, Hadza and Datoga tribes in the two regions. Organizers of the event admitted that polygamy was a serious challenge in those areas. The organizations that staged the event included Pastoral Women Rights (PWC), Pastoralists Indigenous Non-Government Organizations (PINGOS- Forum), Oxfam Tanzania and Maasai Women Development Organization (MWEDO).

    The Director of Oxfam-Tanzania, Ms Monicah Gorman, suggested that women from marginalized communities should be more united to oppose male chauvinism, polygamy and other forms of social abuse. Ms Lilian Joseph from PWC pointed out that the proposed new constitution was the best instrument to save women in Tanzania from abuse.

    The director of MWEDO, Mrs Ndinini Kimesera, pointed out that despite all that, positive traditions should be maintained in order to protect women from negative traits of the so-called modern lifestyle. She said it was time local communities recognized women as important and respected members of society and allowed them to inherit land, own property as well as have access to education.

    Mr Issaya Naini, the programme officer for PINGOS-Forum, said that was the first ever ‘Women’s Day,’ to be organized for women from marginalized groups and since many came forth to speak about their problems, it was important to organize the event every year. But what do men in the accused societies say about allowing their elder wives to mistreat younger wives?

    Elder (Mzee) Kirando Lukeimei who commands respect among the Maasai society in Loliondo and is regarded as a wise advisor popularly known as ‘Mwalimu,’ admits that women in nomadic tribes were not only rendered powerless but also voiceless. “Husbands who gradually allowed their older wives to own land and cattle and have a say in the community were now suffering the consequences as older wives harassed junior wives under the polygamous system of marriage,” said Mzee Lukeimei.

    He said senior wives would even prevent their husbands from sending rations of milk and other requirements to junior spouses and harass innocent children born to the younger mothers. “This means that giving too much freedom to older wives was not a good idea.

    However, Mzee Lukeimei wanted equal rights to education for girls and boys among the Maasai and other communities, unlike now whereby only boys have the privilege to go to school and girls being used for bride price in order to give wealth to parents.


  3. Mutilated body of albino baby found in Tanzania

    Mutilated body of an albino toddler found in Tanzania, after body parts used for witchcraft, say police

    By AFP, February 18, 2015

    The mutilated body of an albino toddler has been found in Tanzania with his limbs hacked off, the latest such killing for body parts for witchcraft, the police said on Wednesday.

    The United Nations condemned the attack, warning that with general elections looming – when people may turn to witchcraft to boost political campaigns – albinos in Tanzania were facing a "dangerous year."

    The one-year old boy, Yohana Bahati, was seized by men with machetes from his home in northern Tanzania's Chato district overnight Saturday, with police finding the body on Tuesday afternoon in a forest area close to his home.

    "His arms and legs were hacked off," regional police chief Joseph Konyo said.

    The baby's mother Ester Jonas, aged 30, is in a serious state in hospital with machete cuts to her face and arms after she tried to protect her baby.

    The killing follows the kidnapping in December of a four-year-old albino girl also in northern Tanzania. Multiple arrests were made but the child has not been found.

    UN country chief Alvaro Rodriguez said he was "deeply concerned by the abductions of these two young children," saying that at least 74 albinos have been murdered in the east African country since 2000.

    The UN repeated its fears that attacks against albinos could be linked to looming general and presidential elections in October 2015, leading political campaigners to turn to influential sorcerers for help.

    "These attacks are accompanied by a high degree of impunity, and while Tanzania has made efforts to combat the problem, much more must be done to put an end to these heinous crimes and to protect this vulnerable segment of the population," he added.

    "This is the year of elections in Tanzania and, as some analysts have suggested, it could be a dangerous year for people living with albinism."

    Albino body parts sell for around $600 in Tanzania, with an entire corpse fetching $75,000, according to the UN.

    Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. It affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say. In the West, it affects just one person in 20,000.

    The child's father, who was nearby during the attack, is being questioned by police.