Tanzania Albino Society To Address Killings

Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Mathias Chikawe
Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Mathias Chikawe

Likewise, both the government and the Tanzania Albino Society (TAS) are working together to form a task force that will conduct special operations countrywide, starting with the notorious regions, where killing and abduction of people with albinism is rampant Home Affairs Minister Mathias Chikawe told reporters in Dar es Salaam that it was agreed during discussions held between the government and the TAS that both should cooperate in addressing the issue.

Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Mathias Chikawe
Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Mathias Chikawe

He said the task force will start working within the next two weeks and will begin its operations in Mwanza, Simiyu, Geita, Tabora and Shinyanga regions, which have been notorious for abduction and killings of albinos.

Mr Chikawe added that other regions that will follow thereafter include Mbeya, Sumbawanga, Kagera, Mara and other regions in the country, stressing that those who will be apprehended practising the banned ‘occupations’ will face the full wrath of the law.

“We want to address the issue of abduction and killings of people with albinism once and for all by banning the activities of these unscrupulous people, popularly known as ‘wapiga ramli’ (seers), who cheat others by telling them that they can get rich quickly or become members of parliament.

Mr Chikawe explained that the witchdoctors being targeted in the operations are different from those who dispense traditional or alternative medicine.

“We believe that banning these witchdoctors and stepping up public education on the need for them to work hard to get rich or attain their objectives will go a long way to stopping the killings of our fellow human beings with albinism,” the minister stressed.

He said the Task Force will be made up of two members from TAS and not more than four members from the police force, noting that the team will also include officials from the Ministry of Regional Administration and Local Government (TAMISEMI).

“TAMISEMI will assist the team by going to the grassroots level where these witchdoctors operate so that we can apprehend those that will go against the government’s ban.

These people are known in the society and we urge the public to work with the team to reveal and thwart any plans to kill people living with albinism,” he explained.

On his part, the TAS Chairman, Mr Ernest Kimaya, expressed ‘’profound appreciation to the government for taking the important step’’. Mr Kimaya advised that the identities of those who will provide the team with tip-offs be kept secret to protect them, stressing that the cooperation between the government and TAS will bring positive results.

He called on international communities to assist TAS with funds to enable fast-tracking of people suspected to have been involved in the abductions and killings.

“It is difficult to have the cases move fast because of lack of money to pay legal representatives, which is also one of the problems hindering case progress in court,” he explained.

TAS, which serves more than 12,000 registered members, is a national non-profit organisation established in 1978 to help protect and empower people with albinism. Meanwhile, Mr Chikawe explained that about 15 people are being interrogated in connection with the abduction of a child with albinism in Mwanza Region.

Early this month TAS, called on President Jakaya Kikwete to assent to death penalties handed down to people convicted of killing people with albinism.

Mr Kimaya said the death penalty to convicts should be carried out to serve as a warning to those harbouring similar intentions of killing people with albinism.

He also wanted the government to allow the United Nations to intervene by forming an independent commission to investigate killings of people with albinism so as to come up with a lasting solution.

He explained that since politicians and other wealthy people were associated with killings of people with albinism, it is important for a UN-led independent team to investigate.

BY ROSE ATHUMANI, Tanzania Daily News

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