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Witch Hunts In Tanzania Are On The Rise As Vigilantes Seek Justice For Murders Of Albinos

TABORA, Tanzania (RNS) Many women are living in fear in this rural part of northwestern Tanzania because they are increasingly being targeted by witch hunts — literally. This East African country is grappling with an upswing in vigilante jus...

literally.

This East African country is grappling with an upswing in vigilante justice as villagers attack women they believe are witches responsible for the murders of albinos, whose white skin some believe possess magical powers.

Children of Kenyan member of parliament, Isaac Mwaura, who almost lost their lives to ritual killers in Tanzania. The killers believe that body parts of persons with albinism brings good fortune and wealth. | Photo courtesy of Isaac Mwaura, USA Today

Last month, some 200 angry villagers — mostly youths carrying axes, machetes and knives — grabbed Jane Faidha Bakari, 58, in Tabora, hacked her with sharp weapons and burned her alive while her helpless husband watched.

Mtana said police intervene in lynchings they witness and arrest anyone attacking a suspected witch on sight, but forces are spread thin throughout the region, which includes the great plains of the Serengeti.

In the meantime, women are hiding out of fear of being attacked.

“Someone dropped leaflets bearing my name” on a list of suspected sorceresses, said Rosemary Aziza, 76, who lives near Tabora. “I will hide until the things go back to normal.”