Kidnapped albino toddler found mutilated

Chato, in northern Tanzania. Photo: Google

Chato, in northern Tanzania. Photo: Google

Killed simply for being disabled, a kidnapped toddler with albinism was found dead — his arms and legs chopped off, said Geita police commander, Joseph Konyo.

Police found Yohana Bahati’s body on Tuesday afternoon in a forest area close to his home in the northern district of Chato following an incident where a group of men broke into his house over the weekend and slashed his mother with machetes.

“His arms and legs were hacked off,” commander Konyo, told the press on Wednesday.

Yohana’s father, who is said to have been nearby during the attack, is held for questioning while his mother, Ester Jonas, is in serious condition in hospital, having sustained machete cuts to her face and arms when she was trying to protect her son.

The region is increasingly becoming unsafe for people with albinism since Yohana’s incident happens only two months after a four-year-old girl, Pendo Emmanuelle Nundi, was snatched from her home by an armed gang. Pendo is yet to be found as several arrests have been made so far.

The gross attacks of people with albinism are highly inspired by superstitious beliefs where witch doctors tell their customers that albino body parts make good charms and spells which could bring good luck and wealth.

A US survey in 2010 found that while most people in Tanzania identify as Christian or Muslim, 93% said they believed in witchcraft.Tanzania banned witchcraft last year in an attempt to prevent attacks and kidnappings. However, Vicky Ntetema, executive director of Under The Same Sun, a Canadian nonprofit organisation working to defend people with albinism, criticised political leaders for failing to intensify the effort.

“There’s absolutely no political will among leaders to end these macabre killings…what is so special with these (traditional) healers to the extent that our leaders ignore albino killings?

“Albinism is not a disease. People must understand albinos are normal people like everyone else and the government has a role to play to ensure this education reaches many people, since most of the killings involve members of the family.”

The United Nations and several human rights activism groups have condemned the attacks and are calling on the government to do more in protecting the victims.

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