When mob justice leaves elderly people homeless and lives at risk

One surprise with generations, past and present, is the image of a nation too rigid to understand and change.

Itโ€™s a nation which will not listen to any authority or any structure. Will not listen to the Police, not chiefs or let alone ministers.

Even the presidentโ€™s word will not carry any weight.

This is whatโ€™s become the story of the Malawi society.ย  Mob-justice where those feeling extremely offended have become the Police and the court to administer justice by themselves.

Talking of mob justice, witchcraft comes to the mind as one aspect of social unrest with communities continuing to administer punishment on those suspected of witchcraft acts.

Police have been handling mob justice cases.

Here, a 33-year-old man from Mulanje District of Malawi, Mark Aluvi, a survivor of mob justice suspected of practicing witchcraft begins his story by explaining that on that fateful night a gang had gathered at his house demanding that he brings back his aunt to life who had died of hypertension, accusing him of practicing witchcraft.

They took him to the house of the vigil where he found his biological mother who was in her old age, in a pool of blood having been beaten-up, accusing her of killing her sister through charms.

He further told MIJ Online that they were later locked in the house where corpse of his Aunt was laid, to resuscitate her in ten minutes.

After ten minutes, the mob stormed the house where they took the victims outside to beat them severely saying they failed to resuscitate the dead person.

And, to make matters worse, the mob poured petro on them to burn them alive.

โ€˜While we were burning the mob continued pelting stones on us, we were covered with car tires before they poured petrol on usโ€™, he narrated.

In all this, sad is to imagine that this is happening when Malawi laws does not recognize the existence of witchcraft.

So where is the long arm of the law in stories like this, and this one in particular?

Meanwhile, MIJ Online understands that all murder suspects behind the killing of the elderly mother for Aluvi were left scot free having been given a Police bail.

And officers at Mulanje Police were not forthcoming to speak on the matter.

This happened also in Neno district where a business person John Kenala who was suspected of practicing witchcraft had narrowly escaped from death after angry mob agreed to stone him to death.

Kenala told MIJ Online that this happened barely following the death of one of his cousins who was believed to have been killed for rituals by the victim who operates a small grocery in the area.

The mob suspected that the victim had bewitched his cousin to make his grocery business grow.

During the incident, the mob demolished the victim’s house and the shop before they went away with all the groceries and his four hundred thousand kwacha that he made from his sales.

โ€˜The angry mob beat me severely with sticks and stones before I escaped to Mdeka in Blantyre to be with one of my relatives where Iโ€™m hiding for months now, for fear of being killedโ€™, he said.

The victim further complained that he is failing to go back to see his wife and children as the mob had threatened him that once he appears in the village it will be the end of his life.

Kavala: The issue is of concern.

Someone may think that this cruel act is happening in Neno and Mulanje alone, but that is not the case as Jordan Makatanje of Chikwawa who is now living with his sister in Zingwangwa township escaped death when people in his village too wanted to kill him for being suspected as a sorcerer.

My fate started when I had just finished building my house, the mob gathered at night they wanted my life then I went for hiding in mountains for thirty days.

After starvation and hunger in the bush, he later decided to walk on foot to Zingwangwa in Blantyre from East Bank where he arrived with swollen feet.

His sister rushed him to the hospital where doctors confirmed that he had anemia because he stayed for thirty days in mountains without food.

On his way to Blantyre, Makatanje had experienced untold challenges including crossing dangerous rivers.

MIJ Online has established that all the ordeal these people are facing is because of the misconception that old people are involved in witchcraft.

Namiwa: We still have a lot of work to do.

But human rights activist, Sylvester Namiwa, thinks thereโ€™s got to be a lasting solution to prevent such acts of barbarism from happening.

Namiwa said government should find ways and means of curbing the malpractice saying everyone has a right to life.

And on his part Andrew Kavala, director forย Malawiย Network of Older Persons Organizations in Malawi (MANEPO) says, he feels such acts are an indicator of a state of anarchy that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Realizing the gravity of such acts Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare minister, Hon. Jean Sendeza says government wonโ€™t sit idle to see people being killed like a lawless state.

But meanwhile, taking to book those committing mob justice stands the primary remedy.

In the long term, the Minister says putting in place sustainable measures like sensitization campaigns and deterring would be offenders through legal instruments is the only solution to making people understand the ills of mob justice and to follow the law.

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