The ruling comes at the time when a spate of albino killings linked to witchcraft is haunting Malawi.
In his ruling on Wednesday, Judge Dingiswayo Madise banned all traditional healers, witchdoctors, charm producers, magic users and fortune tellers from operating in the country to eliminate issues of albino attacks and killings.
The court ruling came as three local residents of the northern Malawi city of Mzuzu sued two witchdoctors whose charms did not work. One of the three complainants who sued the witchdoctor said he was told that his lover would come back to him after using the charms.
Another complainant said the witchdoctor promised her that a thief would return what she had stolen from her. In both cases, the charms never brought the desired results, prompting them to turn to the courts.
One of the petitioners, Oswald Phiri, who also has an albino relative, said he “believes that all the albino killings are stemming from witchdoctors”, who allegedly use albino body parts in their black magic.
“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,” the judge said in his ruling, made available to News24.
The court has also ordered media houses to stop publishing and broadcasting advertisements by witchdoctors. The development comes a week after Malawi initially banned foreign witchdoctors only.
In a statement, Malawi President Peter Mutharika’s chief political adviser Dr Hetherwick Ntaba last week said only herbalists who adhere to a code of practice should be allowed to operate in Malawi.
“Foreign witchdoctors should immediately stop plying their trade in Malawi. We have just learnt that some witchdoctors who were banned in Tanzania, and others from Mozambique, fled to Malawi and are fuelling attacks on people with albinism. They must be deported,” said Ntaba.
He accused the foreign witchdoctors of fuelling killings by lying to superstitious Malawians that albino body parts, when mixed with other charms, brought good luck and wealth.
So far, 18 albinos have been gruesomely murdered in Malawi in the past three years, while 65 others have been attacked in one form or another.