Experts Shocked with Resurgence of Attacks on PWA
Civil and human rights organizations have expressed shock with the resurgence of attacks on persons with albinism, the latest being the case of an attack on a 33-year-old woman in Machinga, in the wee hours of Saturday.
This has not gone down well with the Association of Persons with Albinism APAM; through its President Ian Simbota feels this should reignite talks to strengthen security measures to protect the people.
He insists constructing proper shelters for people with albinism would help in addressing the problem, a matter that failed to materialize under the immediate past DPP regime despite getting the blessing of parliament to the tune of 600 billion kwacha.
Simbota has since implored the new Chakwera administration to consider taking it up as one way of ensuring people with albinism is safe from attackers in the country.
“This is the same reason we had called for a commission of enquiry to help identify these peoples markets as one way of bringing to an end the malpractice. We also asked for houses for people with albinism because all the cases we have reported involve a victim living in a poor house in the rural areas. Money was already allocated. 600 million kwacha, but until June which was the deadline, not even a function had taken place. We are now asking this new government to consider taking that up,” said Simbota.
The resurgence of the attacks has also irked the Family Rights, Elderly and Child Protection FRECHIP, an organisation mandated to see the welfare of and protection of minority groups.
Executive Director for FRECHIP Esme Tembenu says is shocked that despite several calls and sensitization messages on respecting the lives of all individuals regardless, some people are still continuing with the malpractice.
Tembenu says turning to community support where every individual living closely with people with albinism is “a brother’s keeper” at all cost to ensure people with albinism are safe always.
“What wrong did people with albinism do? They are people just like everyone else. They also feel pain when being attacked. This is distressing,” stressed Tembenu.
She has further asked the Malawi Police to be vigilant in their response to calls as it is reported that they did not respond timely to the Machinga incident.
She thinks speeding up prosecution of the cases and meting out stiffer penalties would be deterrent enough to would be offenders.
“When these people are arrested, the police should make sure they don’t come back and prosecution should be fast. As for the courts, please give them stiffer punishment,” added Tembenu.
Meanwhile, Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda says government is already talking into implementing the failed plan to construct over 100 houses for persons with albinism in the country.
“Our friends in the previous regime kept on promising to construct the houses but never implemented. The plight of our friends with albinism is one of our top priorities. We will start the task soon. We are assuring our friends with albinism that this will be done,” highlighted Chimwendo Banda.
The Minister has also acknowledged receipt of the complaint that Machinga Police did not respond to the call timely saying they “are investigating the matter to establish what happened. Proper action will be taken.”
On Thursday July 23, 2020; Minister of Gender, Children, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliyati told journalists in Lilongwe that government has set aside 3.1 Billion Kwacha towards protecting rights of persons with albinism from various abuses including gruesome attacks and murder in the recent years.
She assured all persons with albinism to stop living in fear.
“Our ministry is assuring persons with albinism that we will protect them. We have set aside over K3.1 Billion which will go towards many areas aimed at protecting and empowering people with albinism,” Kaliyati said.
The minister says among others the money will towards mobilization of security, educational support to ensure that children with albinism are being accommodated in boarding schools, as well as supporting court cases when required.
“We are working with the police and the Ministry of Justice (and Constitutional Affairs) to protect our people and ensure that perpetrators of attacks on persons with albinism are adequately dealt with.”
She further says her ministry “is currently trying to accelerate 169 court cases so that justice should prevail as soon as possible,” said Kaliyati.
Reports indicate that 33-year-old Dorothy Jeffrey was attacked in the wee hours of Saturday in her house.
The assailants got her after mistakenly grabbing and beating her grandmother who was sleeping at the sitting room mercilessly. Jeffrey reportedly emerged from her bedroom to save her grandmother who was at the moment crying for help.
The unknown people then took Jeffrey away from her house to a nearby bush where she reportedly managed to bite one of the assailants on the arm buying her freedom.