A Kenyan man has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for trying to sell an albino colleague to witchdoctors for £180,000 (USD $250,000).
Nathan Mutei, 28, pleaded guilty to charges of abduction and human trafficking at a magistrates court in Tanzania. The case has highlighted the ongoing threat to the albino population in the east African nation, where their body parts are believed to have magical powers.
Mutei tried to lure Robinson Mkwana with a job offer, intending to sell him to witchdoctors who would have killed him. “He told me there were jobs in Kenya,” Mr Mkwana said. “But he just wanted to trade me in.” Mutei was given an eight-year jail term for abduction and nine years for human trafficking. The sentences will run simultaneously for each count, meaning he will only spend nine years in prison.
There are 170,000 albinos in Tanzania and at least 53 have been killed for their body parts since 2007. The same, dangerous superstition has also led to murders in neighboring Burundi, where communities of albinos have been forced into hiding after 11 killings since last year. The prosecution of Mutei is a sign the authorities are trying to combat the trade.
“We welcome the decision of the magistrate,” said Alfred Kapole, the Albino Society spokesman.
But some in the small community of Mwanza, where the attempted abduction happened, are disappointed Mutei will only serve nine years of his 17-year sentence. The wave of attacks on albinos in Tanzania has tarnished the country’s reputation for peace and stability. There are fears an upcoming election in the nation will fuel further murders, as the candidates turn to witchdoctors for “good luck”. The government is trying to combat generations of superstitious belief in the power of albino body parts to bring luck, love and riches.