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Tanzania 'healers' flout ban

Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer, Tanzania's first albino MP
Tanzania's only albino MP has been trying to fight prejudice

Traditional healers in Tanzania are defying a government ban announced on Friday, intended to stop the killings of people with albinism for ritual medicine.

A BBC correspondent has seen at least 10 healers working openly.

It comes days after the latest murder of an albino man in Tanzania brought the national death toll to at least 40 since mid-2007.

The killers reportedly sell albino body parts - including limbs, hair, skin and genitals - to witchdoctors.

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said on Friday the government was revoking the licences of all traditional healers with immediate effect.

Leg chopped off

"These witchdoctors are big liars," he said at a rally in the northern Shinyanga region.

But the BBC's Vicky Ntetema said it was business as usual for the traditional healers she visited on Monday just outside the biggest city Dar es Salaam.

I believe it would have been better if the PM had consulted us before announcing the ban
Haruna Kifimbo
Traditional healer

A spokesman for a traditional healers' association has criticised the ban.

Arusha-based herbalist Haruna Kifimbo told the Citizen newspaper: "We are legally registered, they should be dealing with some state organs who have not done much to stop the wave of albino killings."

He claimed members of his association were offering services to more than 30% of the country's population.

"We have so many patients and clients who depend on us," he told the Citizen. "I believe it would have been better if the PM had consulted us before announcing the ban."

In the most recent case last Wednesday an albino man - named as Jonas Maduka - was killed in Sogoso village in the north-western Mwanza region.

He was reportedly eating dinner at home when some people called and asked for his help.

When he went outside he was strangled, before his assailants chopped off his leg and made away with the limb.

The Tanzanian authorities have arrested more than 90 people in recent months - including four police officers - on suspicion of killing albinos or of trading in their body parts.

There are thought to be more than 200,000 albinos in the country, which has a total population of 40 million.

The killings have spread to neighbouring states, with at least one albino murder each in Burundi and Kenya last year.

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