A Malawi court has found a Catholic priest, a policeman and 10 others of the brutal murder and mutilating of the 22-year-old victim for the pigment of his skin. One of the culprits was the victim's own brother.
Albinism can mean a death sentence in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where according to the medical journal The Lancet, 1 in 5,000 people is born with the skin condition. In Malawi, superstitions about people with albinism have even resulted in the murder of little children as young as 2 years old.
MacDonald Masambuka from Malawi's southern Machinga district, disappeared on March 9, 2018. Three weeks later, his body was found, mutilated. It later emerged that the priest had intended to sell off body parts — in particular his bones — for his own profit. It took four years to get justice for Masambuka.
At least 20 people with albinism were killed in Malawi in the four years preceding MacDonald Masambuka's murder, according to Amnesty International.
He said "things have changed a lot" and appealed for a greater sense of understanding for the fact that certain superstitions might not fully be grounded in an antiquated form of mysticism but could be rather emblematic of the abject poverty felt in certain parts of Tanzania. "Of course, there are those beliefs that some people think that if you have body parts and somehow use them ... you could get rich," he said. "Although one has to be very careful with the definition of wealth here: Having an iron-corrugated roof on top of your house could be considered as very wealthy."