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article imageFour Tanzanian Men to Hang, Albino Man Killed for Body Parts

By Chris Dade     Nov 6, 2009 in Crime
A court in the Shinyanga region of northern Tanzania this week sentenced to death four men convicted of killing a 50-year-old albino man whose body parts the killers believed to have magical powers.
There are an estimated 200,000 people living with albinism in Tanzania, a country in Central East Africa with a population approaching 44 million.
In the past two years, reports CNN seven people have been sentenced to death for killing upwards of 50 Tanzanian albinos.
A congenital disorder, albinism leaves its sufferers without pigment in their eyes, skin and hair, or less commonly, just in their eyes.
According to Lucca Haule, an assistant commissioner of police in Tanzania, some of those killed have been children, their body parts and blood then used by witch doctors in the making of potions it is thought can make a person lucky when it comes to love, business or life in general.
There are apparently still dozens of suspects waiting to go on trial in relation to killings which Yahoo says have frequently occurred in the remote Northwest of Tanzania, in the area close to Lake Victoria, one of the Great Lakes of Africa that are found in and around the Great Rift Valley.
CNN notes that it is not just in Tanzania that body parts from albinos are prized for the luck and wealth that they can supposedly bring, with people in other African countries holding similar beliefs.
The four men who were given death sentences this week in Shinyanga, they are to hang, were found guilty of the killing of 50-year-old Lyaku Willy. After killing Mr Willy the four unnamed men had removed their victim's head and legs.
Tanzanian authorities acknowledge that they lack the resources to provide adequate protection for the country's albino population, particularly those albinos living in rural locations.
And even when the lives of albinos are not necessarily threatened they can still face being ostracized, receiving little or no education, unable to find work and therefore unable to properly protect themselves.
One organization which seeks to help the albino population of Tanzania is the Canadian nonprofit Under the Same Sun. The founder of the organization is philanthropist and entrepreneur Peter Ash, himself an albino.
Mr Ash has spoken of how the family and friends of Mr Willy can finally feel that justice has been done after the death sentences passed this week and he has urged the authorities in Tanzania to waste no time in carrying out the sentences. He added:The albino community still lives in a state of absolute fear. Just last week (an) innocent 10-year-old was butchered to death in Geita. His father now fights for his life in hospital due to an attempt to save his son
Franck Alphonse, director of the Tanzania Albino Center, has said that in addition to the killers the Tanzanian police should be arresting those who encourage or give orders to the killers.
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