Africa

Tanzania bans witchdoctors over albino attacks

  • 13 January 2015
  • From the section Africa
A community leader with a child in Ukerewe island, Tanzania (December 2014)
Image caption Campaigners hope the younger generations of albino people will have a safer future

Tanzania has banned witchdoctors in a move intended to stop attacks on people with albinism.

Home Affairs Minister Mathias Chikawe said there would be a nationwide operation to "arrest them and take them to court" if they continued to work.

Albino people, who lack pigment in their skin, have faced attacks for their body parts, which witchdoctors believe bring good luck and wealth.

The Tanzanian Albinism Society (TAS) has welcomed the ban.

"If we and the government come together and show strength as one and speak as one, we can deal with the problem head-on," the society's chairman, Ernest Njamakimaya, said.

"I believe this way we can get rid of these incidents once and for all."

'Evidence mishandled'

More than 33,000 people in Tanzania are believed to have albinism.

Seventy have been killed in the past three years but only 10 people have been convicted of murder.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Seventy albino people have been killed in the past three years but there have been only 10 convictions

Mr Chikawe said action to find and prosecute witchdoctors would begin in two weeks' time in the northern areas of Mwanza, Geita, Shinyanga, Simiyu and Tabora, where most of the attacks have taken place.

The ban has emerged from the work of a special joint task force between police and the TAS.

The task force's work will now entail reviewing previous cases of albino attacks for new evidence and conducting further research on the motive of attackers.

Correspondents say some previous cases against alleged attackers have collapsed over the loss, mishandling or mislabelling of evidence.

Mr Chikawe acknowledged that further training of police was required.

The United Nations recently condemned the abduction of a four-year-old albino girl in north-west Tanzania.

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