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Tanzanian Albinos Killed For Their Organs

Another beautiful stone in the gorgeous mosaic, from BBC News:

Tanzania albinos targeted again

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Tanzanian police say another albino man has been murdered – the 26th victim in less than a year. His wife, also an albino, was hurt in the attack.

Unidentified attackers reportedly severed his right foot and genitalia.

Witchdoctors want the parts for potions which they say make people rich, says the BBC’s Vicky Ntetema

In an undercover report last week, she was offered albino body parts by witchdoctors, who said their clients included police officers.

Jovin Majaliwa is reported to have been killed in his home in a remote Lake Victoria village after dark on Thursday – but police have only now released details of his murder.

His wife, also an albino, was attacked but managed to raise the alarm. She is being treated in hospital.

Neighbours have asked the police to look after two of her children who also live with albinism.

Our correspondent’s investigation revealed that witchdoctors are behind the killings. They use albino organs such as hair, arms, legs and blood to make potions which they claim make people wealthy.

The BBC has also obtained evidence that suggests the police are involved in the racket which is why it has been difficult to catch the culprits…

One hundred and seventy three witchdoctors have been arrested since March, when President Jakaya Kikwete had ordered a crackdown of all those involved in these ritualistic killings for riches.

But the minister was not able to give details about what had happened to them.

And here is an update from Ms Ntetema, who had the temerity to report on this charming practice:

In hiding for exposing Tanzania witchdoctors

By Vicky Ntetema
BBC News

I am living in hiding after I received threats because of my undercover work exposing the threat from witchdoctors to albinos living in Tanzania.

I do not regret it, even if I am very scared.

Mine is just one life, compared to the several thousand people living with albinism in the country.

If nothing is done about this network, they could kill every albino in the country – estimates vary between 4,000 and 173,000

They are being killed because local witchdoctors say their body parts provide the potent ingredient for magic charms, which many local people use to bring success in business and love.

The bodies are left limbless and sometimes with a huge hole in the neck, from where blood would have been drained.

Families not only grieve because of the loss of their loved ones but are also shocked at the state in which the bodies are left by these murderers.

As if that is not enough, they have to bury their dead in the house, guard the graves on their farm and or build them with stones, metal bars and cement to prevent the killers from stealing the body parts.

So I posed as a businesswoman who wanted to get rich and “consulted” 10 witchdoctors.

The consultations included talking to a hedge and telling my problems to a chicken.

These are regarded as intermediaries between the witchdoctor, their ancestors and the spirits, or “jinns“.

They used old German and English coins with holes in the middle, cowry shells, pebbles, nails, nuts and bolts, screws, crosses with the little figure representing Jesus, and beads which they would shake in a red or white cloth and throw on the ground, while incense burned from all around.

Sticky green stems or old money notes are put between pages from the Koran.

Then the witchdoctors would speak in Arabic and the local Sukuma language and translate or use an interpreter to get the message through to me.

I presented the same case to all of them and got different solutions.

The consultation fee ranged from $20 to $100 per session, with a promise of returning for a further problem-solving process…

Two witchdoctors promised to get me a magic concoction mixed with ground albino organs. The starting price was $2,000 for the vital organs.

Another told me said that the police were among his customers and that he could make a special potion mixed with ground male and female private parts to enable people to commit armed robbery without being caught.

The encounter with witchdoctor number three was in a village called Gambusi, the most feared area in the region…

Here a man in his forties wearing a white T-Shirt and khaki trousers with a mobile phone on his belt asked me whether I had brought a chicken.

“What for?” I asked.

He laughed and said that I was forgiven because he realised that I was a novice in the business.

He demanded $2 for a tiny three-week-old chicken and $3 for the fortune-telling.

I was then told to get out of the compound, face south-east, where I hail from – Dar es Salaam – spit on the bird’s head, back, tail and on my hand and have a heart-to-heart talk with the chick revealing all my problems.

He asked for $200 for the consultations and said I should spend two nights there before completing the process.

But when I told him that I had only $30 he told me to go away and return when I had the full amount.

When I went back with other BBC colleagues, his nephew was there to receive me.

He said he knew what I wanted and said he would find me albino blood, hair, leg and palms for $2,000.

He charged me $55 for the initial consultations and asked me to return with the rest of the money.

I found the last witchdoctor in Lamadi, a tiny rural town which lies at the junction of the roads leading to Kenya and Uganda.

He charged me $100 for the first session and said he would give me the magic potion with albino and other human organs for a price.

While I was there, a man came for a consultation – the witchdoctor said he was a police officer but he was wearing civilian clothes.

However, he was made to wait until my session was over and, I later learned, told the witchdoctor that I was involved in a sting operation.

Shortly afterwards, the threatening phone calls started.

And a gang of men went round the small town of Magu, where we had briefly stayed, searching all the guest houses. Luckily, we had already moved on to the nearest city, Mwanza.

One particularly chilling message came on my mobile phone: “What have you done now? Watch your back.”

The witchdoctor had boasted of working with a powerful network across East Africa, which included police officers and armed robbers.

I knew they were involved in the murder of albinos, so I was terrified.

At first, I did regret taking on this mission – especially for the sake of my family.

Had I put their lives at risk?

But then I realised that I had done the right thing.

Even if I die today, those involved will have been exposed.

“Jinns”? Pages from the Koran? Salaams?

Lest we forget, Mr. Obama’s grandfather was not only a Muslim, but also a witchdoctor. And in Kenya too “traditional healers”use human body parts in their rituals.

But who are we to adjudge one culture as superior to another?

We must tear down the walls between witchdoctors and albinos!

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, July 27th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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