Kenyan held over attempt to sell albino friend

Tuesday August 17 2010

A woman with her albino child before registering him at the office of the Tanzania Albino Society (TAS) in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Police in Mwanza, Tanzania, have arrested a Kenyan for attempting to sell a fellow Kenyan who is an albino. FILE

A woman with her albino child before registering him at the office of the Tanzania Albino Society (TAS) in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Police in Mwanza, Tanzania, have arrested a Kenyan for attempting to sell a fellow Kenyan who is an albino. FILE 

By GERALD LUMANYIKA in Mwanza 

Police in Mwanza, Tanzania, have arrested a Kenyan on allegations of attempting to sell a fellow Kenyan who is an albino.

According to Tanzanian police, the incident took place at a guest house in Mwanza town.
Mwanza regional police commander, Mr Simon Siro, who confirmed the developments, said Mr Nathan Mutei,28, allegedly attempted to sell Mr Robinson Mkwama, 20, for Tanzanian Sh400 million. (KSh22m)

Mr Siro said the two had arrived in Mwanza through illegal routes on August 12 from Kitale in Kenya's Rift Valley Province where Mr Mkwama was working as a hawker. They had no travel documents when they were arrested.

According the police commandant, Mr Mutei managed to lure Mr Mkwama - who had recently finished Form Four- that he would find him a bus conductor’s job in Mwanza through his contacts, assuring him that the job pays well.

Mr Siro says the two are longtime friends and have been staying at River Side Hotel in Buzuruga ward, Nyamagana District.

Police received a tip from Good Samaritans that there was a man selling an albino, he said, explaining: “He was looking for customers from the mining sector believing that they have the money to pay and the secret police posed as customers during their encounter at the hotel at about 4pm (Sunday).”  

People at the hotel told the police that they overheard Mr Mutei telling Mr Mkwama that the boss was about to arrive anytime soon, but in a very discreet manner.

RPC Siro refused to disclose the whereabouts of Mr Mkwama or whether he will also be charged for entering Tanzania illegally.

But he insisted that the police are keeping him in a safe place as their key witness in the case.

Tanzania has witnessed a spate of killings of people with albinism, ostensibly for witchcraft beliefs. Since 2007, there have been an estimated 53 albino killings in Tanzania and 11 in Burundi. 

The killings have forced the government and some international organisations to intervene and take legal action against the killers.