Albino student fears Malawi witch doctors will hunt and kill her for body parts

An albino student fears Malawi witch doctors will hunt and kill her for body parts if she is forced to return there from Scotland.

Tumeliwa Mphepo, 22, has completed a fellowship at Dundee University as part of the Scottish Human Rights Defender Fellowship Initiative.

Now she fears for her life at the prospect of returning, claiming people with albinism are killed for their bones and body parts, which are then sold for witchcraft rituals.

Perpetrators are rarely punished, and people like her who lack pigment in the skin, hair and eyes suffer widespread discrimination, reports the Daily Record.

Speaking out can be dangerous but she waived her anonymity despite the danger of reprisals.

Tumeliwa said: “People like me are being hunted like animals in Malawi and other parts of Africa.

“There has been a big increase in the number of atrocities against people with albinism, with 159 cases in Malawi in just a few years.

“This has been a problem in the background for years.

“This is not the fault of the government and there are people within the government trying to counter these beliefs but it is a slow process and the action is not happening quickly enough for those of us at risk.

“A lot of discrimination exists against people with albinism in education and employment, meaning they tend to fall into the lowest socioeconomic bracket and are the most vulnerable as a result of their poverty.”

Amnesty International described the situation in Malawi as a human rights crisis, with ­thousands of people – particularly children – at risk.

Tumeliwa and two other ­activists spent a semester in  Dundee  as part of the Scottish Human Rights Defender ­Fellowship initiative.

Participants spent three months combining study with the chance to build relationships and share expertise with Scottish human rights and equality organisations.

It is a partnership between the Scottish Government and the university, supported by Front Line Defenders, Amnesty, SCIAF and Beyond Borders Scotland.

One of those taking part, a lawyer who wanted to remain anonymous, was targeted by authorities for his human rights work.

He recounted how activists often don’t sleep through the night as there is a real possibility of would-be jailors, torturers and murderers breaking down their door.

He added: “I have slept more in the past three months than I have in a very long time.

“We have all had a break from persecution, in Scotland.”

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