by Gregory Gondwe She is haunted daily by the image of the decapitated head of her 9-year-old son.Police asked Edna Cedrick to identify it after the boy, who had albinism, was snatched from her arms in a violent struggle.The death in February was one in a recent surge in killings and abductions of people with albinism in this southern African country.
At least 18 albino people have been killed in Malawi in a “steep surge in killings” since November 2014, and five others have been abducted and remain missing, according to a new Amnesty International report.The toll is likely much higher because many killings in rural areas are never reported.Malawi police have also recorded cases where the bodies of people with albinism have been illegally exhumed.Malawian police say the growing violence comes after neighbouring Tanzania imposed tough measures against such trade in January last year.Cedrick, the mother of the murdered boy, recounted his abduction last month while holding the murdered boy’s surviving twin brother, who also has albinism.
In the middle of the night, she said, she woke to the sound of people kicking down the door of the house. “Before I could understand what was happening, they sliced the mosquito net and grabbed one of the twins,” the 26-year-old said, tears in her eyes.
“I held on to him by holding his waist, at the same time shielding the other with my back.” When they could not overpower her, one assailant hacked her in the forehead with a machete, she said.
“This dazed me, and I lost hold of my son and he was gone.
I shouted for help, but when my relatives rushed to our house, they were gone.” The boy’s twin kept asking where his brother was, she said. On the same day, a deadly attack was carried out in another part of Malawi on 38-year-old Fletcher Masina, an albino father of four. “The macabre trade is also fuelled by a belief that bones of people with albinism contain gold,” the rights group says, noting another mistaken belief is that sex with a person with albinism can cure HIV.
The report also points out widespread discrimination against people with albinism, including by relatives.
Activists in Malawi recently took to the streets to protest, marching to parliament to present a petition calling for strict penalties for people who attack or kill people with albinism.