Albino schoolboy mutilated in renewal of muti attacks

18 February 2013 - 02:25 By Sapa-AFP
An albino child attends school in Tanzania. File photo.
An albino child attends school in Tanzania. File photo.
Image: © Alida Vanni

Attacks collecting body parts of albinos for witchcraft have hacked off the hand of a seven-year-old boy in Tanzania, the latest in a series of bloody assaults, it was reported yesterday.

"The boy was attacked on Saturday by three people as he walked home with his four school friends," said Apolinary Macheta, a government leader in Tanzania's southwestern Milepa district.

The boy, Mwigulu Magessa, is recovering in hospital.

The attack was only a few days after an albino mother of four had her arm chopped off by machete-wielding men. Police on Saturday said they had arrested five men after discovering the decomposing limb hidden in a field.

In Tanzania, albinos are killed and dismembered in accordance with a widespread belief that charms made from their body parts bring good fortune.

Albinism is a genetic condition characterised by a deficiency of melanin pigment in the skin, hair and eyes.

Melanin gives protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays. People suffering from the condition are persecuted in many African countries.

Last month, an albino child died in Tanzania's Tabora region after his arm was hacked off.

Kijo Bisimba, of Tanzania's Legal and Human Rights Centre, has said the rise in attacks is "alarming" and pointed to a renewal in the spate of assaults.

Ritual killings have also occurred in neighbouring Burundi and some of the attackers are suspected to be from Tanzania, where albino body parts can fetch thousands of dollars.