Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala, MSNBC, August 19, 2010
A Kenyan man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for trying to sell an albino man to witchdoctors in Tanzania, local media reported Thursday.
A magistrate’s court in northwest Tanzania sentenced 28-year old Nathan Mutei on Wednesday, after he pleaded guilty to charges of human trafficking and abduction with intention to sell an albino man, also Kenyan, for 400 million Tanzanian shillings ($263,000).
At least 53 albinos have been killed since 2007 in the east African nation and their body parts sold for use in witchcraft, especially in the remote northwest regions of Mwanza and Shinyanga, both gold-mining regions where superstition is rife.
The victims’ blood and body parts are used for potions. Witchdoctors tell their clients that the body parts will bring them luck in love, life and business.
There are around 170,000 albino people, who lack pigment in their skin, eyes and hair, living in Tanzania.
Tanzania is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in October. The Tanzania Albino Society fears there could be a new wave of killings in east Africa’s second largest economy ahead of the vote.
It is common for some politicians to visit witchdoctors during elections in belief that their powers will boost their chances of victory.
“There is talk around the country that the entire albino population could be wiped out by the time the general election is over. We don’t know whether or not to believe these stories, but albinos are now certainly living in fear,” Msembo said.
In neighboring Burundi, at least 11 albino people have been killed since last year. So far 13 people have been convicted, including one who received a life sentence.