Zengabuyanga Meli (95), a resident of Kanoge village in Tabora Region, was murdered recently while defending Lugolola Bunzari (7), his great grandson with albinism from being chopped to death by gangsters after human parts.
The attackers killed Lugolola and later fled with his arm leaving the torso inside the hut where the poor child had been sleeping.
Recounting the incident in Kisukuma-Kinyantuzu, the language spoken by most residents of the area, Lugolola’s grandmother, Gama Zengabuyanga, said her father, Zengabuyanga, was woken up by cries as the killers who were shouting something in a language they could not understand whipped them.
On learning that something was wrong, Zengabuyanga rushed to the next room shouting: “Who is hurting my children?”
It was then that some unidentified men pushed him outside near the hut where the great grandson, Lugolola, was sleeping with his mother and three sisters - the youngest being a few weeks old.
To his shock there were more armed men waiting outside the hut. He ran back to the hut shouting: "We are being attacked! Help the children! We are under attack!"
The assailants pounced on him with machetes and clubs cutting him in several places. “It was the end of his life,” Gama said in the tribal language that was translated in Kiswahili by a relative.
The shouts of distress from the children brought Gama out of her hut limping, asking who was attacking the children. The assailants attacked her with machetes.
She fell but fortunately managed to crawl into a nearby bush before she lost consciousness.
She woke up two days later to find herself at Kitete Regional Hospital, 75kms from her home village of Kanoge nursing her wounds.
The incident lasted only a few minutes according to Gama. The fourth victim is Bunzari Shinga (35), the late Lugolola's father, who upon hearing the cries rushed out of his house, where he was sleeping with his second wife, Pili and their daughter. He was shot four times.
One of the bullets bruised his right leg three hit him in his groin, while four other bullets missed him, hitting the wall of his hut.
Like Gama, he dropped on the ground and crawled into the bush behind his house.
When the killers had left in the dark with Lugolola's arm in their possession, Pili, slowly crawled out of the hut with her baby in her arms. On searching, she found her husband in the bush, who she helped to reach a neighbour’s house about a kilometre away.
Arrangements were made to take him to a nearby health centre for first aid using a motorcycle.
As for Kulwa, the mother of the late Lugolola and first wife of Bunzari Shinga, when she heard the screams from the children in their great-grandpa's hut, she rushed out only to find herself face to face with the four armed men near her hut.
With them, were also three men armed with machetes and clubs and guns as they attacked her in-laws while one man armed with a rifle or shotgun was guarding the front of her co-wife’s house.
She rushed back into the house, collected Lugolola’s elder sister Shija and her baby and ran into the bush.
She went back into the hut to take Lugolola’s younger sister and rushed back into the bush.
“While I was there, I heard Lugolola screaming. It was just one short wail and everything went quiet. And that was it!” she narrated, her face reflecting pain and grief.
Police are holding three suspects in connection with the incident, and investigation is underway to bring the culprits to book, according to Tabora Regional Police Commander Anthony Ruta.
Kanoge Village which is about 75kms from Tabora Municipality in the northwestern part of the country is a very remote area ensconced in a thick forest, taking two and half hours by car to reach the place.
Incidents of murder and violation of rights of people with albinism that had almost disappeared in the country in the recent past are now on the increase.
In a separate incident there has been another murder attempt on children with albinism in Simiyu Region near Lamadi Trading Centre.
Armed men attacked the home of one Jane Daudi with the aim of killing her seven-month old boy with albinism, Makunga Baraka. The incident happened last Tuesday.
Villagers chased the attackers and surrounded the house to protect the victim. The following morning the family was taken to a police station where it has been staying to date.
Yet in another incident, unidentified people chopped off the left arm of Maria Chimbawene (39), at Kavifuti village in Sumbawanga District, Rukwa Region and fled away with it recently.
The victim is hospitalized at the regional hospital, where she is receiving treatment.