BLANTYRE, MALAWI — In her judgment Monday, Judge Dorothy Nyakaunda Kamanga sentenced five people to life imprisonment with hard labor for the death of MacDonald Masambuka.
Judge Kamanga also sentenced Catholic priest Thomas Muhosha, police officer Chikondi Chileka and three others to 30 years imprisonment with hard labor on charges of transacting in human tissue.
Clinician Lumbani Kamanga received a 60-year term on charges of extraction of human tissue.
Masambuka went missing from his village on March 9, 2018. Less than a month later, his limbless body was found buried in the garden of a home where one of the assailants lived, in the Machinga district in the south of Malawi.
Court documents show that Masambuka’s brother, Cassim, enticed him to meet the brother's friends. The documents say the brother claimed he had found a girl for MacDonald Masambuka to marry.
But authorities say that when the group reached their destination, they grabbed MacDonald Masambuka by the neck and dragged him to the garden where they killed him. The documents say his assailants cut off his limbs and burned his body using gasoline.
Cassim Masambuka was sentenced to life in prison for murder along with a 14-year sentence for trafficking in persons.
Pilirani Masanjala represented the government in the case. He said he was happy with the judgment.
“It ensures that all the persons who have been found, charged and convicted of all these heinous crimes will face the full arm of the law," .Masanjala said "So, that is something that for us, as directors for public prosecutions, we are happy to see that the courts are doing nowadays.”
The national government has not commented on the sentences but has previously condemned the attacks on albinos.
The lawyer for the convicted individuals, Masauko Chamkakala, said he would speak with his clients on the way forward.
Attacks on albinos are a chronic problem in Malawi and some other southern African countries.
A representative of people with albinism at the court, William Masapi, said the sentences serve as a deterrent to such attacks.
“Because we are also human beings. We need to enjoy life," Masapi said. "We have responsibilities in this country; some of us are working in the government taking part in the development of this country. So, people should learn from today that we people with albinism are like them.”
Boniface Chibwana, the national coordinator for Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Malawi, welcomed the sentencing.
He also said there is need to intensify efforts to stop the attacks.
“If we look at the high level personnel, three people which are working with the government, that are working with the church being involved in this case, the issue is putting momentum as far as sensitization is concerned, so that we put to a stop issues of killing and abductions of people with albinism in Malawi,” Chibwana said.
In the meantime, the Catholic Church in Ma