Malawi: Catholic priest mentioned in albino saga

MALAWIANS are still struggling to come to terms with news that a Catholic priest has been mentioned and arrested by police in connection with killing of people with albinism.

Father Thomas Muhosha of Mulombozi Parish under Zomba Diocese in southern Malawi was arrested last week  after he was mentioned as one of the people who allegedly took part in the brutal killing of 22-year-old Macdonald Masambuka in March this year in Machinga. The southern African country has been in the spotlight for albino killings and disappearances for more than three years now.

National Police Headquarters spokesperson James Kadadzera said Muhosha is being being questioned. He is yet to be charged.

The body of Masambuka was found on April 1, after he was reported missing in March. Police have arrested 12 suspects in connection with the case including a clinical officer working at a government hospital, a police constable and a herbalist.

‘But investigations are still going on and evidence is being compiled. We believe more people will be arrested,’ Kadadzera said.

Reacting to the arrest in a press statement, Rt. Reverend George Desmond Tambala, Bishop of the Diocese of Zomba distanced the Catholic Church from Father Muhosha’s alleged conduct, saying ‘the Catholic Church defends the sanctity of life at any point of a person’s life and the killing of albinos is a direct violation of the sanctity of life.’

The Catholic Diocese of Zomba said it has learnt with profound shock and shame the allegations against its priest. ‘The Diocese, like the rest of the Catholic Church in Malawi has
always strongly condemned the killing of our brothers and sisters with albinism. In recent times, as a Diocese we have spoken out against the abduction and killing of persons with albinism. It is with much sadness that we have learned of these allegations against a priest of
our Diocese,’ read the statement in part.

The statement added that it would co-operate with the arms of the law to see that truth and justice for the victims is established in this case. ‘The laws of the Catholic Church are clear and in the case of Reverend Father Thomas Muhosha, he is henceforth suspended from priesthood awaiting conclusion of the case,’ the statement said.

The Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) said if albinos cannot be protected at a police station, hospital or at a clergyman’s place then the albinos in the country at even a greater risk of being killed than ever before. ‘If the police and the clergy are implicated in the killing of people with albinism then who should we trust?,’ APAM president Overstone Kondowe said. ‘We expect justice to take its course without necessarily looking at one’s status. Let those found guilty get tough sentences.’

The murder of Masambuka has brought to 22 the number of people with
albinism murdered since 2014.

So far there have been nine cases of abductions of people with
albinism. The killings have been fueled with rumours that limbs of
people with albinism are used to produce ‘get rich’ charms.

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