Catholic Priest in Malawi among Suspects Found Guilty of Murder of Man with Albinism

Some of the suspects leave the court after the April 29 ruling. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A Catholic Priest is among 12 suspects found guilty in the case of the abduction and murder of 22-year-old Malawian man with albinism, Mcdonald Masambuka.

Mr. Masambuka went missing from his village on 9 March 2018, and his limbless body was found buried in a garden in his home district of Machinga South of Malawi on 2 April 2018, VOA News reported.

In the Thursday, April 28 ruling, the judge at the High Court in Blantyre, Dorothy Nyakaunda Kamanga, said that Fr. Thomas Muhosha and 11 others plotted to “kill Masambuka, to extract his bones, hoping to benefit financially.”

The member of the Clergy of Malawi’s Zomba Diocese who, in April 2018, had been “suspended from Priesthood awaiting conclusion of the case” is among seven suspects found guilty of selling the body parts of Mr. Masambuka. The other five were found guilty of the murder of the Malawian man who was living with albinism.

In the April 28 judgment, Judge Kamanga said the suspects who will be sentenced on May 30 were found guilty “based on evidence brought by the State Prosecution team”.


The judge said that Mr. Masambuka “is the latest victim of violent attacks on persons with albinism who have not been protected by the community.”

The actions of the suspects who include a medical practitioner, a police officer and a biological brother of the deceased were “a violation of the right to human life and the greatest violation of the rights to life and integrity for persons with albinism”, the Malawian judge said.

Malawi’s public prosecutions director, Steve Kayuni, has been quoted as saying the late Masambuka “was betrayed by those he had trust in, namely the brother, the priest, the policeman and the clinical officer. These are positions of trust.”

A 2018 Amnesty International (AI) report on albinism in Malawi indicates that “since November 2014, the number of reported cases against people with albinism has risen to 148 cases, including 14 murders and seven attempted murders.”

Citing the Malawi Police Service and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the AI report further indicates that “Only 30 percent of the 148 reported cases against people with albinism (had) been concluded” and that at the time, “only one murder and one attempted murder cases (had) been successfully prosecuted.”

More in Africa

According to court documents, Mr. Masambuka was enticed by his brother to meet his friends, who he claimed had found a girl for him to marry.

However, when they reached the scene, the alleged friends grabbed Mr. Masambuka by the neck and dragged him to a garden where they killed him. Here, his assailants cut off his limbs, burned his body using petrol, and buried it there.

Fr. Muhosha was among the suspects who were arrested and detained when Mr. Masambuka’s body was discovered. Reacting to his arrest and detention, the leadership of Malawi's Zomba Diocese expressed “profound shock and shame” over the allegations against Fr. Muhosha.

In a statement dated 17 April 2018, the then Local Ordinary of the Malawian Diocese, Archbishop George Desmond Tambala stated, “The Catholic Diocese of Zomba has learnt with profound shock and shame the allegations against Reverend Father Thomas Muhosha, a Priest of our Diocese linking him to the killing of albino, Mc Donald Masambuka.”

He added, “The Diocese, like the rest of the Catholic Church in Malawi, has always strongly condemned the killing of our brothers and sisters with albinism.”


“In recent times, as a Diocese we have spoken out against the abduction and killing of persons with albinism. It is with much sadness that we have learned of these allegations against a priest of our Diocese,” Archbishop Tambala who was appointed Archbishop of  Lilongwe in October 2021 said.

The member of the Order of Discalced Carmelites continued, “The Catholic Church defends the sanctity of life at any point of a person's life and the killing of albinos is a direct violation of the sanctity of life.”

“The Diocese of Zomba wishes to express its full cooperation with the arms of the law to see that truth and justice for the victims is established in this case,” the 53-year-old Archbishop said.

He announced the suspension of the Malawian Catholic Priest from his Priestly ministry saying, “Laws of the Catholic Church are clear and in the case of Reverend Father Thomas Muhosha, he is henceforth suspended from Priesthood awaiting conclusion of the case.”

“Upon the conclusion of the matter by a competent court of law, due Church processes will follow according to the prescriptions of Canon Law. Meanwhile, we will do all we can to assist the police in their investigations whenever we will be required to do so,” Archbishop Tambala said.

(Story continues below)

He added, “We want to take this opportunity to convey our deepest solidarity with all Catholic faithful and citizens of Malawi who are wounded in their faith due to this very sad incident.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.