Witchdoctors banned in wake of albino killings

A Malawi court has banned witchdoctors from operating in the impoverished southern African country following a spate of albino killings linked to witchcraft, according to a court ruling seen Thursday.

Judge Dingiswayo Madise granted an order late Wednesday stopping "all traditional healers, witchdoctors, charm producers..., magic users and fortune tellers from operating in the country to eliminate issues of albino attacks and killings," according to a judgement read out to AFP by a court official.

The official, who cannot be named because he does not have authority to speak to the media, said the court made the ruling after three local residents sued two witchdoctors.

Albinos, who have white skin and yellow hair as a result of a genetic disorder, are regularly killed in several African countries for their body parts for use in witchcraft.

Malawian police have recorded at least 65 attacks, abductions and murders of albinos since the end of 2014.

Of the three victims who sued, one had been promised that a lover who had abandoned her would come back.

Another said she had been guaranteed by the witchdoctor that a robber would return her stolen goods.

When they failed to get results, they turned to the courts.

Oswald Phiri, one of the complainants who also has an albino cousin, said in his affidavit that he "verily believes that all the killings (albino) are stemming from witchdoctors" who use albino body parts in their prescribed concoctions.

"After the request of the three concerned Malawians to ban activities of witchdoctors in order to eliminate issues of albino attacks and killings, this court grants the order," ruled the judge in the northern city of Mzuzu.

The court also ordered newspapers to stop carrying witchdoctors' adverts.

The United Nations warned in April that the country's estimated 10,000 albinos face "systematic extinction" if they continue to be murdered for their body parts for use in witchcraft.