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.”
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.”