Activists have urged the media in Malawi to investigate killings and abductions of people with albinism to help find perpetrators and profiteers of the malpractice.
Speaking during a panel discussion on Wednesday on how the media can contribute to the ending of violence against people living with albinism, Alex Machila, an executive member of Association of Persons with Albinism (Apam), said the media must do more.
The Polytechnic’s department of journalism and media studies organised the discussion as part of its three-day media and information literacy workshop.
“We appreciate what the media is doing on the matter, but we think it would be more fruitful if they engage an extra gear in their reporting. These issues started as a myth and then people started believing the myths thereby threatening our lives.
“As such, we want the media to investigate the cases and find out who offers the money in exchange for bones of persons with albinism, where the bones are taken to once a person has been killed and what the bones are used for because most of the people arrested are those suspected of abducting or killing the persons with albinism,” said Machila.
Another panelist, a third year journalism student Janet Mapira, shared Machila’s sentiments, saying the media should not wait until an abduction, killing or exhumed body surfaces.
She said since the killings and abductions of people with albinism look like organised crimes, there is need for the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to position itself in a way that enables them to tackle the problem effectively.
On his part, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter chairperson Thom Khanje said although it is sad that much has not been done to identify who is really profiting from the incidences, the media is doing a commendable job in raising awareness on the episodes of violence.
“There have been attempts by the media to go deeper beyond the breaking news and we have had good feature stories and reports highlighting important issues on the matter, but it is indeed time to do more,” said Khanje.
Until February 2015, the brutality against people living with albinism was stuff of news from Tanzania, where witchdoctors stand banned for promoting good-luck rituals that have led to 100 deaths since 2000.
But the killings have also become rampant in Malawi and brutal. n