President Peter Mutharika has been commended for directing that ‘hooligans’ caught killing or maiming people with albinism in the country be handed life imprisonment.
Mutharika’s order comes nearly two weeks after Parliament already passed the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill that metes out the same punishment to those found guilty of the offences.
Among others, the passing of the Bill meant that people found guilty of trespassing into graveyards, especially under a conspiracy to deface graves in attempts to fetch human body parts, will be serving longer than the initial 21-year jail terms.
Mulanje South member of Parliament Bon Kalindo (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) and Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (Chreaa) in separate interviews applauded Mutharika for his “bold step” in making the directive.
“Finally, I have been vindicated that what I was fighting for was not just an ordinary issue. It is very commendable that the President has taken such a stand. This will bring hope among people within the albino community,” said Kalindo, who fell out of grace with his party because of his assertive position on the matter.
On his part, Chreaa executive director Victor Mhango said it was encouraging for Mutharika to opt for life imprisonment than death penalty.
Said Mhango: “Death penalty is not the best way of punishing someone. Much as we appreciate the trauma families that have lost their loved ones go through, we commend the President for opting for life imprisonment and not death penalty.”
Private practice lawyers Tamando Chokotho and Khumbo Soko also said they had no problems with giving life imprisonment to offenders, but insisted “death penalty must be left to the judge.”
“No two offences will be similar, they will always differ. Therefore, sentencing should fit each case and should be fair,” said Soko, who is also secretary for Malawi Law Society (MLS).
On his part, Chokotho stated that there had been different cases regarding persons with albinism ranging from being found with their body parts to murder, thus, such decisions must be left to the judge.
Besides making the order, Mutharika also said on Saturday at Kabudula Primary School in Lilongwe when he installed Traditional Authority (T/A) Kabudula that he had ordered police to guard schools that have children with albinism.