The plight of people with Albinism in Swaziland



BY : ZWELI MARTIN DLAMINI

JOHANNESBURG: People living with Albinism in Swaziland are living in fear of being murdered for ritual purposes and are subjected to other forms human rights violations.

Stukie Motsa, a lawyer by profession is the founder and Executive Director of Stukie Motsa Foundation, a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) whose main objective is to advocate for the rights of people living with Albinism. However lack of resources restrict her organization in embarking on campaigns around the country that seeks to discourage the killings, discrimination and abuse of these human beings. Motsa, who is also living with Albinism said her organization also seeks to advocate for laws that would protect the rights of people living with albinism.

“In an indication of the environment in which persons with albinism live in Swaziland, in 2013 national and international media reported that Swaziland’s albinos have called on government for protection before the elections fearing their body parts will be harvested by candidates seeking good luck. In a separate report in the same year, a call for albinos to be allowed to carry guns in order to protect themselves against attacks, was publicized” she said. Motsa said despite these challenges government has done little, if nothing at all, to protect the lives of people living with albinism.

“In June 2013, the then Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini said government would look into protecting people with albinism. So far, no specific measures were reported to be taken” she said. Motsa further mentioned that even though this might not be prevalent in Swaziland, there was strong believe that most people living with Albinism are being killed but the cases are not reported.

“In 2016, a person with albinism was killed for ritual purposes after his wife was asked by a witchdoctor to bring him so that he could get his blood for ritual purposes. The wife and her accomplices were arrested and the matter is pending before the courts .In March 2018, three cases have been reported to the police where families were approached by unknown people asking for their children, in exchange for money. Again in March 2018, a witch doctor was arrested in South Africa for killing two children of which one of was with albinism. He alleged that the body parts were taken to a witch doctor based in Swaziland. The matter is still pending in court” she said. Motsa went on to state that despite the ritual killing challenges, people with albinism suffer skin disorders and local clinics and hospitals do not have some of the ointment that are necessary for these disorders.

“They then have to buy them in private pharmacies that charge very high prices (e.g) efudix ointment cost US100. Faced with that predicament they are left with no alternative but to go home and die” she said.

Those interested in helping the Foundation can contact Stukie Motsa on: +268 7604 4459