Malawi Police, courts, CSOs speak out on albino accusations
The Police, Malawi Law Society (MLS) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have expressed their views regarding albino abductions and killings after some quarters accused these bodies of not doing enough to address the problem.
National Police spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa said the accusations are not justified as police have come up with several measures to curb the crimes.
Gondwa said apart from arresting and taking the offenders to court, the service has been going to different areas across the country with messages against the vice.
“We have been meeting with community policing committees and members of the public to sensitise them on this vice and development of crime prevention tips. We have also been doing refresher courses for our prosecutors so that they can handle such cases appropriately,” Gondwa said.
He also said police prosecutors come up with charges against the offenders based on the evidence gathered on the ground and it would be unfair for people to accuse them of going to court with lesser charges.
“So, prosecutors are doing enough because they go to court with evidence gathered on the ground,” he said.
Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula said the magistrates use what is within their jurisdiction to sentence the accused.
“Every magistrate works using the penal code and if the penal code says this is the sentence that can be meted out on the convict; the magistrate cannot go beyond that. The magistrate cannot just wake up and sentence a person without following what the penal code demands. If some people are not satisfied with sentences in the lower courts, they have the right to appeal and the High Court is always ready to hear their case,” he said.
MLS honorary secretary Khumbo Soko said the plight of people with albinism is heartrending and reflects poorly on society but sentencing is an exact science as there are a lot of factors that courts consider before deciding on a sentence.
“As they say, a sentence must suit the offender, the crime committed and must be tempered with mercy,” Soko said.
He, however, said it is also a requirement of principle that the sentence meted out be fair to society.
“In this regard, it is vital that the sentences being meted out by the courts reflect the general abhorrence of society with those who engage in these nefarious enterprises. As you can imagine, this is not an easy task at all. It is one that must be carried out with the deserving diligence by the courts, nevertheless,” he said.
While acknowledging that people have the right to express their feelings, Council for Non- Governmental Organisations in Malawi (Congoma) Chairperson MacBain Mkandawire said it is important to understand that the crimes in question are being committed systematically and have a cultural or traditional killing context.
“So, to deal with this vice, we require some serious strategies and when we are talking about fighting this vice, the first thing that NGOs are supposed to do is to create awareness and I think NGOs are doing their part on that one. But because it is a criminal issue that happens on the ground, that’s why I am calling on the public as well to come in the open and talk about this issue and report all suspicions. That way we can win the battle instead of finger pointing,” Mkandawire said.
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