WINDHOEK – President Hage Geingob is to take over as SADC chairperson this weekend and pressure is already on as Amnesty International wants the bloc to ensure member states strengthen criminal justice systems to protect people with albinism.
Over 600 people with albinism have been killed or attacked in Southern Africa in ritual-related pursuits.
With Namibia among a few African nations with deliberate policies to advance the well-being and protection of people with albinism, it is hoped the country’s chairmanship of SADC would help advance this agenda.
Amnesty International in Southern Africa works to prevent human rights abuses and holds governments and corporates accountable for their actions.
Deputy Minister for Disability Affairs in the Namibian Presidency Alexia Manombe-Ncube stressed the need to strengthen the judicial system in order to protect the rights of people with albinism.
Speaking yesterday at a side event of the SADC Summit currently being held in Windhoek, Manombe-Ncube said people with albinism in Namibia are discriminated against even though there are no reports of abductions and killings.
The event at which she spoke was hosted in Windhoek by Amnesty International’s Southern African regional office.
“We need to strengthen our judicial system to protect the rights of people with albinism and people with disabilities in general and also to strengthen our already existing laws to make sure we have regulations that will be put in place to take people to court who are discriminating against people with albinism and other disabilities,” she stated.
She made reference to the Disability Act that is being enacted in Namibia in order to protect people with disabilities, including those with albinism.
The deputy minister said the Namibian government supplies sunscreen and hats to people with albinism for free.
She also said people with disabilities are being registered to receive disability grants.
“In the past people with albinism were not regarded as people with disabilities and we said how can they not be people with disabilities because they also have limitations,” explained Manombe-Ncube.
Manombe-Ncube said there were nearly 600 reported cases of attacks in 24 African countries.
“These are only the reported cases. Most of the cases of attacks go unreported due to secrecy of witchcraft practice, family involvement and the likely involvement of power players in communities,” said Manombe-Ncube.
With Namibia taking over the SADC chairmanship, the deputy minister said her department would work with Amnesty International to make sure that the issues of people with albinism and disabilities are championed vigorously.
There are already efforts to address the needs of people with disabilities in Africa.
“After the summit I would like to try and make an appointment with our president just to bring to his attention that we would like to take up these issues, and as a country that is having the chairmanship we should take up these issues and champion them on regional level,” said Manombe-Ncube.