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Three get life for albino murders

Ian Simbota

The High Court in Zomba, on Monday, sentenced three people to life imprisonment with hard labour for killing a man with albinism, Fletcher Masina, in 2016 in Ntcheu District.

State prosecutor Dzikondianthu Malunda confirmed the sentence meted out by Judge Redson Kapindu.

“This is now closure of the case. We are happy with the judgement and sentence and hope maybe now, the soul of Fletcher Masina will rest in peace,” Malunda said.

The three convicts are Kenneth Moses, Ulemu Mwangomba and Steven Libias.

In total, four people were convicted of the murder but one of them, Herbert Maloni, was found dead while on remand at Ntcheu Prison.

Maloni and Moses had pleaded guilty but their sentencing was pended till the conclusion of the case for the other suspects who had pleaded not guilty.

The other two were equally found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Over ten people were arrested in relation with the murder but others were cleared along the way.

While hailing the sentence, president of the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi, Ian Simbota, said it is important to put a stop to the attacks in the first place.

“The conviction is a good development, yes, but it is better to end the killings before they happen. We are weeping for the lost souls because they will not come back no matter the severity of punishment that their assailants get.

“We are also weeping for the people whose bodies have not been found after they were abducted. There are persons with albinism whose whereabouts remain unknown. We are crying for them,” Simbota said.

Fresh attacks of persons with albinism resurfaced early February this year and left one dead and another reportedly traumatised.

The United Nations, through its office in Malawi, called on the country to address the cause of the attacks which have left at least 26 persons with albinism brutally murdered.

Country Director of Standing Voice, an international organisation advancing the rights of people with albinism, said after February’s attacks that he had not expected the macabre incidents would return.

“I am aware there have been threats but I never expected that in 2021 we will register a case of someone being killed. So, it is really a shocking moment for me. As also a person with albinism, it brings me back all memories of my brothers and sisters whom we have lost,” Massa said.

Earlier this month, police arrested two more people, a mother and her father-in-law, in connection with the abduction of a 20-month-old child with albinism.

Three other suspects had already been netted in the matter.

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