DAR ES SALAAM (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A Tanzanian court has sentenced six men to 20 years in jail each for chopping off the hand of an albino boy in the hope of selling it as a witchcraft charm.
The men were charged with severing the left hand of 12-year-old Mwigulu Matonange in February 2013 and running away with it, before some were caught scouting for a prospective buyer, the local Daily News reported.
The United Nations estimates that at least 75 albinos were killed in Tanzania between 2000 and 2015 but says that could represent a fraction of the attacks as most occur in secretive rituals in rural areas.
Albinos are attacked for their body parts, which are prized in witchcraft and can fetch a high price.
The four men were convicted on Friday of conspiring to murder and attempting to kill the boy, charges that carried separate jail terms.
However they were not sentenced to the maximum term of life imprisonment due to mitigations and the fact none had previous criminal records, Justice Adam Mambi told the high court in the southwestern Rukwa region.
“Twenty years? Why not the maximum sentence?” Vicky Ntetema, head of the Under the Same Sun charity’s Tanzania office, wrote on her Facebook page.
“So it is 30 years in prison for impregnating a school girl and only 20 years for hacking off a minor’s hand for witchcraft purposes, conspiring to murder, and for attempting to kill! These laws have to be changed.” she wrote.
In 2015, four men were sentenced to death by a Tanzanian court after they were convicted of abducting, killing and dismembering a 17 year-old albino boy.
Albinism is a congenital disorder that causes lack of pigment in skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa, and in Tanzania affects an estimated 1 in 1,400.
Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, resilience and climate change. Visit www.trust.org