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Government seeks to regulate traditional healers

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Government is currently in the process of consulting and formulating the law that will ensure that the activities of traditional healers in the country are regulated.

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Ministry of Health have been given a responsibility to ensure that law comes into being.

In June this year, the High Court in Mzuzu banned the traditional healers from operating in the country.

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That time, the court issued an injunction against the witch doctors, traditional healers, charm sellers, fortune tellers and magicians, and advertisements for their services.

But the court order became obsolete after people who obtained it failed to place a public notice on the same in the newspapers and other channels within three weeks from the day of the order was issued.

Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice, Janet Banda, said if everything goes without hitches, the law will be implemented by the end of 2017.

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Banda said the root cause of abductions and killings of people with albinism is traditional medicine and if the country is to win the war against such and other related malpractices, traditional healing business has to be regulated.

“There are witchdoctors who believe or who are advising people that they can get rich using bones or human tissues of people with albinism. So, we are collaborating with the minister of health to come up with the law to regulate traditional medicine. In Malawi, at the moment, that area is not regulated. You see the adverts in the newspapers, people claim on what they can. But you see that in the region, other countries have moved to regulate that area as well, to specifically curb what we are grappling with,” Banda said.

Speaking when she opened a workshop for the validation of the handbook on prosecutions of cases related to attacks on people with albinism in Lilongwe yesterday, Banda said the ministry of health, which is responsible for the policy formulation, is doing the consultations on the law.

Association of People with Albinism (Apam) National Coordinator, Boniface Massah, said regulating traditional healers is one of the major things that the country needs to do.

“The moment we regulate our traditional healers, we should be able to trace which traditional healers are practicing these traditional ritual attacks not only to persons with albinism but to any ritual attacks in the country,” Massah said.

Banda said the handbook is not only important to the Judiciary but to all players in the criminal justice system.

“The purpose is to ensure that there is systematic approach to the investigations and prosecutions of cases to do with people with albinism,” Banda said.

Massah said after the recent amendment of the Penal Code, one of the challenges that was to get the laws to magistrates and prosecutors and the handbook has isolated specific issues that are legally binding.

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