Oddly Enough

Witchdoctor killings condemned

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete has condemned witchdoctors who kill albinos and harvest their body parts in the hope it will bring prosperity.

He said 19 albinos had been murdered since March 2007, and another two were missing presumed dead in the east African country.

“Sometimes, word spreads around that body parts of people with certain physical attributes like bald people or albinos contribute greatly to attaining quick prosperity,” Kikwete said in a monthly state of the nation speech late on Wednesday.

“These killings are shameful and distressing to our society,” he added.

Albinos are often accused in Tanzania of being witches themselves.

There are an estimated 270,000 people who suffer from the condition which stops them producing pigment in their skin, hair and eyes in the country of 39 million.

Kikwete blamed charlatan witchdoctors, many masquerading as traditional healers, for extracting body parts such as genitals, tongues and breasts.

“Many of the witchcraft killings happen because of a false belief that by using other peoples’ body parts they can succeed in business or in activities like mining or fishing,” Kikwete said.

Most killings took place in the Victoria region and were committed by gangs for hire, he said.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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