The government has said it is obliged to lead the war against atrocities targeting persons with albinism (PWA) in Geita Region and other parts of Tanzania, as any acts of violence contravene the country’s Constitution.
Geita District Commissioner Hamad Mwinyigoha made the remarks here on Saturday when launching “Pamoko One Love Tour 2012”, an Under The Same Sun (UTSS) campaign in Lake Victoria zone regions.
He said the country’s Constitution puts a premium on the need to safeguard and promote peace and harmony alongside ensuring unqualified respect for human rights “and its is thus part of the responsibility of the government to make sure that PWAs and the larger public live in peace”.
The DC, who was speaking on behalf of Geita Regional Commissioner Magalula Magalula, said the harassment, torture and killing of innocent PWAs for whatever purpose was inhuman and criminal and portrayed Tanzania and Tanzanians in poor light internationally.
“Reports that concoctions based on the body parts of PWA help people become rich are mere superstition and empty lies. My appeal to Geita residents and Tanzanians generally is that all should disabuse themselves of these superstitious beliefs, revert to belief in Almighty God, and stop hunting down, persecuting, torturing of murdering innocent people with albinism,” he added.
Mwinyigoha however warned that although it was part of the government’s role to ensure peace, security and harmony for all, “it just can’t dispatch big enough numbers of police officers and other law-enforcement agents to each village across our vast country”.
“That is precisely why we (the government) keep harping on the importance of both local government authorities and the citizenry participating fully in all security matters in their respective areas of domicile,” he noted, adding: “This is crucial because the evil elements hatching and committing these atrocities come from the same communities.”
“Even as I speak, some of us here are the very ones behind these atrocities, others have full details about the culprits including where they live and how they operate, but many of use remain tight-lipped. We need to show greater resolve to end these criminal practices by exposing the killers,” he pointed out.
The DC later addressed a rally as people awaited the screening of the widely acclaimed UTSS documentary entitled “White & Black: Crime of Colour”.
He declared that the government would seek to know what happened to the case involving people associated with the chopping off of the fingers of a youngster known as Adam Robert Tangawizi.
The boy was left permanently maimed after the assailants chopped off three of his fingers, but the people earlier held by police in connection with the incident have been since set free on orders from the Director of Public Prosecution.
Vicky Ntetema, the UTSS Executive Director for Tanzania, said they were yet to come to terms with the DPP’s decision to dismiss the case.
“Police in Geita did a great job. They dug deep down into the bottom of the tragic incident and came up with a lot of exhibits,” she said, wondering how and why the suspects were set free on account of having no case to answer.
“This has denied PWAs their basic right – to life,” she noted, appealing to the government to reconsider the DPP’s ruling and “ensure the case is taken back to a court of law”.
Ntetema also requested the relevant authorities in Geita Region to investigate the rise in the prevalence of robberies and other forms of violent crime in the region.
She gave the example of the graves of two PWA, whose names she gave as Zawadi Magindu and Gasper, which were dug up by unidentified people apparently hunting for the bones and other body parts of people with albinism.
UTSS Operations Manager Gamariel Mboya meanwhile urged regional commissioners across the country to make arrangements for PWA to be transported free of charge to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Moshi and Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar es Salaam for expert medical attention.
He said the two referral hospitals are the only ones in Tanzania with cancer treatment specialists and facilities, including clinics.