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Father, uncle arrested after allegedly trying to sell albino children for witchcraft rituals

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Two men have been arrested for allegedly trying to sell three albino children. One of the accused is the children’s father.

File picture: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

TWO MEN have been arrested by Mozambican police after they allegedly tried to sell three albino children. One of the accused is the children’s father.

The police said the men were trying to sell the children, aged from nine to 16 years old, for witchcraft. Mozambican police spokesperson Feliciano da Camara said the police acted on a tip-off and managed to intercept the men. They were arrested and have since denied the allegations.

Speaking at a press briefing, Da Camara said the men allegedly arranged to traffic the children to Malawi where they were to be sold for about R670,000.

In June, five people were sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering an albino man. They also planned to sell his body parts.

MacDonald Masambuka was murdered n 2018. He was kidnapped from the southern district of Malawi in February 2018. His body was found a month later and his arms and legs had been hacked off. The accused included a Catholic priest and Masambuka’s own brother.

Albino murders are rife in Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. In 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported on how albino people are hunted for body parts which many believe can be used in witchcraft. The publication reported that an albino’s body parts are thought to bring riches, success or sexual conquest and children are especially vulnerable.

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The Africa Albinism Network pointed out that albinism is non-contagious and genetically inherited and affects people regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. It results from a significant deficit in the production of melanin and is characterised by the partial or complete absence of pigment in any or all of the skin, hair and eyes.

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The network says people with albinism often appear pale in comparison with members of their family and their communities. Both parents must carry the gene for a child to have albinism. In such cases, there is a 25% chance at each pregnancy that a child will be born with albinism.

Albinism is a condition with multiple subtypes. In addition to significantly affecting appearance, albinism often results in two congenital permanent health conditions: visual impairments to varying degrees and high susceptibility to ultraviolet-induced skin damage, in particular skin cancer.

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