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Killed for their bones - On the trail of the trade in human body parts in Malawi

by Kevin Kriedemann & Joy Sapieka
21 Apr 2017 at 12:45hrs | Views
Harrison's parents and brother - ©Sorin Furcoi - Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera English has launched Killed for their bones - On the trail of the trade in human body parts, an investigation into the rising number of hate crimes against persons with albinism in Malawi.

Al Jazeera's Azad Essa and Sorin Furcoi met survivors and families of victims, who were often brutally killed because they had some form of albinism.  

The investigation showed how some people in southern and eastern Africa believe that the body parts belonging to people with albinism contain magical powers, often borne out of a toxic mix of witchcraft, poverty and desperation which is threatening to kill off an entire community.

In Malawi, at least 115 people with this skin disorder have been attacked over the past two years by people who believe their bones contain gold dust, can solve ailments, or can be sold on the black market for thousands of dollars. But does this market exist? And has money ever changed hands?

Al Jazeera tells the story of people who have been humiliated and taunted in public, hunted and killed for their bones. But it also visits Zomba Maximum Prison to speak with convicted perpetrators, who talk of an elusive market that led them to their crime.

"We decided to zoom in on this issue because we felt it was a story worth understanding better given the severity of the crime and the lazy conclusions that often come with stories from Africa," said Al Jazeera's Azad Essa, lead writer of the project. "We wanted to hear from victims, who had a story to tell of why they have been persecuted and quite often neglected and ignored."

Al Jazeera traveled to all parts of Malawi - central and southern Malawi in particular - meeting victims, their families, government officials, and witchdoctors.

Killed for their bones - On the trail of the trade in human body parts is a project which tells the human story of people from all sides, but gives a voice to a community that is often marginalized and persecuted due to their skin pigmentation.

David's Story (2m49)


Clement Gweza (1m54)


Stercia Kanyowa (1m57)


Edge Kanyongolo (1m58)


Explore the full investigation at http://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2017/malawi-killed-for-their-bones/index.html.

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Source - Kevin Kriedemann & Joy Sapieka

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