- 18-month-old Yohana Bahati’s body found near his home in Tanzania
- Kidnappers snatched child on Saturday, attacking mother with machetes
- Yohana is second albino child to be taken in less than two months
- Witch doctors claim potions with albino body parts bring wealth and luck
- As a result, limbs sold for thousands – with entire body ‘fetching £50,000′
- Fears attacks and killings will increase in the run-up to October’s election
- U.N. warn of a ‘dangerous year’ for people with albinism in Tanzania
The mutilated body of an albino toddler has been found in Tanzania with his limbs hacked off, just days after he was taken by machete wielding kidnappers looking to make money from a sick black market trade fueled by a belief in witchcraft.
Yohana Bahati’s body was found on Tuesday afternoon in a forest area near to his home in the Chato district, in northern Tanzania.
His arms and legs had been hacked off, no doubt to be used in potions and charms made by witch doctors for wealthy buyers who believe they will bring luck and riches.
Horrendously, some believe the louder the scream when the body part is removed, the more powerful the potion will be.
Yohana’s mother Ester Jonas, 30, remains in hospital, recovering from the machete blows the kidnappers reined down on her as she desperately tried to protect her son late last Saturday
Albino body parts are worth thousands of dollars in Tanzania, with an entire body being said to fetch up to $75,000 – about £50,000.
The lure of the money – a fortune for the average person in the east African country – has left Tanzania’s albino population in fear for its life.
Indeed, both adults and children are being made to live in special compounds to keep them safe from criminals hired by the witchdoctors to chop off their highly-prized body parts to be used in these potions.
Eighteen-month-old Yohana was the latest victim of a string of attacks.
Two months ago, four-year-old Pendo Emmanuelle Nandi was taken from her home in Mwanza, which, like Chato, is also on the shores of Lake Victoria.
She has never been seen again.
In both cases, the fathers of the children were arrested in the wake of the kidnappings – suspected by police of being in some way involved.
Police have now stepped up security in the wake of this latest killing ‘to ensure no one else is hurt’, Geita police commander Joseph Konyo said.
‘Unfortunately this family resides in a protected forest area … so it was extremely difficult for the police to immediately arrest the suspected robbers,’ Konyo said.
The added protection will hopefully keep Yohana’s two siblings safe, as both are said to have albinism.
However, charities warn the upcoming presidential election is likely to mean attacks and killing increase as people may turn to witchcraft to boost political campaigns.
UN country chief Alvaro Rodriguez said he was ‘deeply concerned by the abductions of these two young children,’ saying that at least 74 albinos have been murdered in the east African country since 2000.
‘These attacks are accompanied by a high degree of impunity, and while Tanzania has made efforts to combat the problem, much more must be done to put an end to these heinous crimes and to protect this vulnerable segment of the population,’ he added.
‘This is the year of elections in Tanzania and, as some analysts have suggested, it could be a dangerous year for people living with albinism.’
The Tanzanian government recently announced a crack down on witch doctors who practise this particular kind of ‘magic’ in an attempt to stop the attacks.
But Vicky Ntema, of charity Under The Same Sun, which works to help people with albinism in Tanzania, is skeptical.
‘There’s absolutely no political will among leaders to end these macabre killings … what is so special with these (traditional) healers to the extent that our leaders ignore albino killings?’ she said.
‘Albinism is not a disease.
‘People must understand albinos are normal people like everyone else and the government has a role to play to ensure this education reaches many people since most of the killings involve members of the family.’
Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.
It affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say.
In the West, it affects just one person in 20,000.
ALBINOS: THE GHOSTS WHO CAN BRING YOU WEALTH, POWER AND LUCK
Albinos are seen as curses, or ‘ghosts’ who can be wiped off the face of the earth, in many part of Tanzania, and across Africa.
Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes, albinism affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding in remote and rural communities, experts say.
In the West, it affects just one person in 20,000.
Families are often told to kill the children at birth. Yet, conversely, their body parts are highly prized.
But Josephat Torner sees the two as being intrinsically linked.
‘The killings and attacks is the outcome of the stigma and discrimination. If you respect me, you won’t think of me as a commodity,’ he said.
Witch doctors claim albino body parts are capable of bringing riches, power and success, if used in potions, while a UN report report into the trade revealed miners used the bone as amulets, or would bury them where they are drilling for gold.
Fishermen are said to weave the hair into their nets to help them catch more fish.
Children are particularly vulnerable: their innocence is highly valued, and they are not as strong as the adults attacking them.
Most of the time, limbs are taken – but the report notes there have been cases where victims were beheaded, genitals, ears, and bits of skin were removed; tongues were cut out and the eyes and the heart gouged out.
Other types of attacks reported included rape for healing purposes.
Possibly most shockingly, some believe the louder the screams while the limb is removed, the more potent the charm.
Culled from Daily Mail