Petitioners who obtained an injunction stopping witch-doctors, herbalists, magicians and fortune-tellers from operating in Malawi to protect people with albinism, have rendered the order ineffective after failing to source funds to serve the order through media adverts.
Three people—Evans Mponda, Oswald Phiri and Mary Nyirenda—last week obtained an injunction from the High Court in Mzuzu to bar witch-doctors, traditional healers, charm producers, sellers or distributors, fortune-tellers and lot or magic users in Malawi from practicing, arguing they are fuelling albino abductions and killings as well as duping people.
The court ordered that for the injunction to be effective, the respondents should be served the summons through advertisements in two local papers and two radio stations of high listenership for seven consecutive days
However, since the order was granted last week, the applicants have not placed adverts in the media to serve the respondents.
In an interview on Wednesday, lawyer George Kadzipatike, who is representing the applicants, said his clients cannot afford to pay for adverts in major media outlets for the stated period.
Among the documents to be run are originating summons with detailed affidavit and exhibits, order of injunction and affidavit used to obtain the injunction, order for substituted service, and interpartes summons for continuation of injunction.
Kadzipatike said serving the respondents with originating summons and other documents is a must and he feared that the case may not succeed if the documents are not served.
The lawyer has since appealed to well-wishers, government, civil society organisation and media houses to join the cause of protecting people with albinism by meeting some of the costs.
“The reasoning of his Honour Dick Sankhulani to the effect that the order of injunction should be published and broadcast for seven consecutive days is sound because it would ensure that the message is passed to every targeted person.
“As it stands, our people with albinism will continue to be killed to form part of concoctions for miraculous riches and various miracles. We look forward to those who can assist in one way or another to uproot the cause of albino killings which its cause is witchdoctors,” said Kadzipatike.
Government spokesperson Patricia Kaliati said in an interview that media houses should consider giving free space for the adverts to show their commitment to fighting albino attacks.
Last Wednesday, the High Court in Mzuzu granted an injunction on the basis that, among others, herbalists are fuelling the attacks on individuals with albinism as well as making false claims, thereby duping the public.
The sued parties are traditional doctors Masamba Asiyana Mwale and Apite Apitana Chiwaya in their personal capacities and representing a class of all traditional healers, witchdoctors, charm producers, distributors and fortune-tellers in the country.
On Monday, Traditional Medicine Council of Africa (TMCA) team leader Steve Chester Katsonga protested the ban, saying the court rushed in banning the herbalists without consulting the council to express its position over the ongoing infringements of the birthrights of persons with albinism.