On New Years Eve Yassin Phiri bled to death in front of his 9 year old son after his hands were hacked off in an attack believed to be motivated by belief that albinos body parts can bring good luck and wealth.

The attack was reported by Nyasa Times, on New Years Eve, a 54- year albino, Yassin Phiri from northern Malawi in Nkhatabay district was stabbed and killed in his own house. Phiri was dragged outside his house where his hands were both chopped into pieces and later died.

Phiri was not murdered in a robbery or personal disagreement, but for his body parts. As this was happening, Phiri’s nine-year-old son witnessed the ordeal during which he was warned the he may also be killed.

Malawi Police Inspector General Rodney Jose said the attackers killed Phiri in front of his nine year old son. “They dragged him outside the house probably to a distance of about 20 metres where they chopped off both his hands, they left him battling for his life until he bled to death,” said Jose.

What is the Government saying on the matter?
In Malawi and other parts of Africa, some people believe that body parts from albinos, if used in so-called magic potions, can bring good luck and wealth.

Chairperson of Malawi’s presidential committee, Hetherwick Ntaba was tasked to protect albinos. So, what is he saying as a chairperson? ‘You can never wipe out all evil people from a population of 17 million. We are doing everything we can, but evil people are still there doing all the evil,’ Ntaba said.

He also said that it is not that the government is failing or not doing anything, Ntaba continued by saying that members of his committee recently went to Tanzania to learn from their efforts to protect albinos by banning witch doctors.

Nyasa Times recorded what Habiba Osman who runs a United Nations-sponsored program in Malawi is trying to dispel the false belief and end attacks on albinos. Osman said a big problem is bringing to justice suspects who attack albinos or steal body parts from their graves.

“It’s really very discouraging, disheartening and horrifying for those especially us who have been in the forefront conducting various activities but also just bringing to the attention of stakeholders on the need to take care of these people” Osman said.

The Daily Times newspaper reported that there were 152 cases pending in court. This sends the wrong message to Malawians concerned about the situation.

The brutal killing of an albino in Malawi on New Years Eve has renewed concerns of attacks on people with the rare genetic disorder, which accuses the skin, hair or eyes to have little or no colour.

Why Albinos?
Albinism is a congenital disorder characterised in humans by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes.

It is regarded as a rare group of genetic disorders that cause the skin, hair or eyes to have little or no colour. Albinism is often associated with vision problems.

What causes albinism?
This status of being an albino is caused by a defect in one of several genes that produce or distribute melanin. The defect may result in the absence of melanin production or a reduced amount of melanin production. The defective gene passes down from both parents to the child and leads to albinism.

Albinos in Malawi
These are estimated to be 10 000 Albinos in Malawi and the cases of injuring and killing people with albinism is increasing daily. Since 2013, 26 Malawian albinos have been killed and 130 injured.

This has been happening because of the false belief that their body parts can bring good luck and wealth. But can this be true?

Photo by Albinisitic man portrait by the original uploader was Muntuwandi at English Wikipedia

Regina Maere

I was born in Mangochi and educated in Dedza at Umbwi Secondary School, Following Secondary School I attended The Institute of Journalism, Lilongwe. Inspired by great writers, with a passion for writing it is my ambition to inspire others too through writing.


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