Catholic Priest in Malawi Found Guilty of Murder of Man with Albinism Sentenced

Fr. Thomas Muhosha given a 30-year sentence with hard labor after being found guilty in the case of the abduction and murder of a 22-year-old Malawian man living with albinism. Credit: Nyasa Times

The Catholic Priest who was among 12 suspects found guilty in the case of the abduction and murder of a 22-year-old Malawian man living with albinism has been given a 30-year sentence “with hard labor”.

Mcdonald 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.

Fr. Thomas Muhosha and 11 others were found guilty of plotting to kill Mr. Masambuka in order “to extract his bones, hoping to benefit financially”, the Judge at the High Court in Blantyre, Dorothy Nyakaunda Kamanga, said during the April 28 ruling.

On Monday, June 27, Judge Kamanga sentenced the member of the Clergy of Zomba Diocese in Malawi and three other accomplices “to 30 years imprisonment with hard labor on charges of transacting in human tissue,” VOA has reported

In the June 27 ruling, Lumbani Kamanga, a Clinician by profession and a co-accused in the case, received a 60-year jail term on charges of extraction of human tissues.


The remaining persons were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Mr. Masambuka.

Judge Kamanga said the sentences start from the day the convicts were arrested and are to run concurrently for those convicted of more than one offense. 

According to court documents, the late 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 in April 2018.

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While 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 Bishop 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 later transferred to the Archdiocese 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,” he said.

As the Local Ordinary of Zomba Diocese, the Archbishop 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.

In the June 27 VOA report, Pilirani Masanjala who represented the government in the case said he was happy with the judgment and sentencing.

“It ensures that all the persons who have been found, charged and convicted of all these heinous crimes will face the full arm of the law,” the Malawian prosecutor said. 

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Reports by international entities have indicated that persons living with albinism in Malawi are under threat. 

In 2016, a United Nations expert on albinos, Ms. Ikponwosa Ero, said persons living with the skin condition in the Southern African nation are at risk of “systemic extinction” due to attacks that are ignited by superstitions. 

A 2018 Amnesty International (AI) report on albinism in Malawi indicates that “since November 2014, the number of reported cases against people with albinism (had) 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 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.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.