Monday, February 23, 2009

Three traditional healers in northern Tanzania have been arrested for defying a government ban issued in January 2009

It was meant to stop killings of people with albinism for ritual medicine. Their arrest follows charges against a pastor, who was allegedly found in south-western Tanzania in possession of the body parts of an albino. This case is a blow to people with albinism, some of whom have been seeking refugee in churches. The pastor - Cosmas Mwasenga - was arrested in the Mbeya region and faces the death penalty if found guilty. The three traditional healers had been travelling around the northern district of Serengeti in a car using a public address system to let their clients know that they were still open for business. Their arrests come days after the murder of a 14-year-old albino girl in the northern Mwanza region, bringing the national death toll to 45 since mid-2007. The killers reportedly sell albino body parts - including limbs, hair, skin and genitals - to witchdoctors to make potions that purport to make people wealthy. More than 200 people - including witchdoctors, their clients, hired killers and some of the victims' relatives - have been arrested in connection with the killings in the last year. No-one has so far been convicted, she says. There are thought to be more than 200,000 albinos in the country, which has a total population of 40 million.

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