APM condemns witchcraft murders: CSOs say Malawi should invest in community policing

Malawi President Peter Mutharika has decried the deaths of four elderly persons, suspected of being witches, who were lynched in Neno this week as cases on mob justice especially on suspected of witches have been on the rise in Malawi in recent times.

Malawian President Mutharika : Arrests the masterminds of Neno killings.

Malawian President Mutharika : Arrests the masterminds of Neno killings.

Byson Kanjete, 73, Eliza Enoce Kanjete, 86, Elenefa Kanjete, 76 and Idesi Julius Kanjete aged 69 were on Monday brutally killed by an irate mob that suspected that the four deceased practiced witchcraft and were behind the death of their granddaughter who was struck by lightning.

President Mutharika said he learnt about the senseless killings with “great shock.”

According to a statement issued by presidential spokesman Gerald Viola, made available to Nyasa Times, Mutharika has edged that his government will step up its efforts to stem the killings of elderly women on witchcraft suspicions.

“The President is saddened by the brutal acts of the mob in Chimbalanga Village and has since ordered the Inspector General of the Malawi Police Services to investigate the matter and bring to justice and trial of all those involved in the killing the 4 innocent people,” said  Viola.

Mutharika wants to people change their attitudes towards witchcraft and realise the value of elderly persons in society.

“President Mutharika is again reminding Malawians to stop accusing the elderly of witchcraft whenever someone dies. The President says the elderly people deserve respect and protection at all costs and that His Government will not tolerate any victimization of the elderly people in this Country,” the statement concludes.

Neno Police Spokesperson Raphel Kaliati said police were doing all they can to arrest the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, the Malawi Civil Society, have also expressed dismay with the brutal killings in Neno and also concerned with the mob killing of an escaping prisoner from Chichiri Prison.

“It is disheartening to note that some citizens decided to take the law in their hands by killing the escaping prisoners instead of handing them over to the relevant authorities. We categorically and unequivocally condemn these barbaric killings and call upon the law enforcers to accord the utmost urgency the issue deserves so that those responsible whoever they are and wherever they are  should be hunted down, arrested and  be held accountable for this crime that gravely violate human dignity and human right,” said a statement  by the CSO.s.

The statement was issued by Timothy Mtambo of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Masauko Thawe – Young Advocates (YA),  George Thindwa – Association for Secular Humanism (ASH),  Gift Trapence – Centre for Development of People (Cedep), Robert Mkwezalamba – Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC)  , Victor Mhango – Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHRREA) ,  Mtende Msindama – Lawyers for Human Rights (LFHR),   Charles Kajoloweka – Youth and Society (YAS),  Darlingtion Harawa – Passion for Women and Children,  Billy Mayaya  -Activist  and Chrispine Sibande – Human Rights Lawyer.

Mob justice

The CSOs remind Malawians that mob justice violence, whatever the reasons behind it, finds no justification in both the  domestic and international legal human rights system as it violates the right to due process,  sanctity of life (Section 16 of Malawi Constitution) and their presumptive innocence until proven otherwise by a competent court of law.

The CSOs said mob justice is a criminal offence  and that Malawi lawes further forbids accusing anyone of being a witch or practicing witchcraft.

They cited the the 2009 report by  United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial or arbitrary executions,  which  called upon states to ensure that all killings of alleged witches are treated as murder, and should be investigated, prosecuted and punished accordingly.

“ It is therefore clear from this that immunity from prosecution of mob violence against anyone including those accused of witchcraft has no place under both  domestic and international legal jurisdiction hence our candid reminder to law enforcers to move with urgency on the matter,” reads the statement.

The CSOs asked  government through the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Ministry of Information, and Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare in partnership with Malawi Human Rights Commission to come out and strongly condemn the murderers.

The activist said government  should consider  embarking on a “robust sensitization campaign” of the ills of mob violence “as it is apparent that there is also limited or lack of understanding of the rights of the accused persons and also the criminality of the act.”

They further called  on Malawi Police Service and Ministry of local government and internal security to intensify and invest resources on Community policing and awareness raising on the role of the Police and the need for people to coexist but more importantly treat the Police as their first call on any issue of this nature.

“As CSOs we believe if our police is taken to the people directly or through Community policing structures, such incidents can be avoided as there will always be tips and grapevines of serious actions to take place in a community which If dealt with in time can prevent such incidents. We strongly believe that this will go a long way in eliminating the incidences of mob justice in the country,” stated the CSOs.

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Bravo Aningo, judgment is with God, let’s us wait for judgment day we are all sinners


cso.s that is,what Their most to do.akupha mufitiwa,ndiakupha mwamtundu uli onsewa e? i don,t no what should we name them.??


Malawi really need to embrace enlightenment and not take itself to deep darkness because of holding on to superstions and illogical thinking. It is very sad that the elderly in Malawi must become like an endangered species. In our African ways we are taugh to respect the elderly and we know they are our assets that hold wisdom about life that many of us still lack.


Malawi police have no power!let’s go to hell.

As a nation, our views on issues are becoming worrisomely extrimist. The Neno murders are just a manifestation of this tendency toward fundamentalism. Most Malawians find it impossible to argue for or against an issue while keeping a level head. This is a symptom of a lack of enlightenment. We have all seen how we have foolishly celebrated the discontinuance of Ken Msonda’s court case. His utterances were full of venomous fundamentalist thinking. Democracy is about “agreeing to disagree”. Nobody should be demonized or murdered for having a different opinion on issues in an enlightened democracy. Let’s see a break… Read more »

Why commenting this time and not when the Chewas of Dzalanyama were being butchered at home for curving a hoe handle? Yet we have so many charcoal sellers just after Chiingeni as we go to Blantyre from Lilongwe?

I congratulate the Malawi President and CSOs for making humanitarian statements about the unlawful killing of four elderly Malawians. The murder of these poor individuals must be followed up with the full vigour of the law. Never again should elderly people have to fear for their lives because of the gross ignorance and stupidity of others living locally. A full programme of scientific education in all schools with far less influence being given to religion would do Malawi a great deal of good too. Finally, a commitment to toleration of all within a society is something all Malawians should be… Read more »

a mabungwe tilibe chikhulupiliro pa inu. Kuva za inu ndinjira yopitila ku gahena. you are supported and funded by devil himself. mukuti amuna azikwatilana okha okha muli ndi wakazi kunyumba. mukati tipite kuma demo ana anu mukuwasekera mipanda. Apa mukuti anthu apedwawa muli ndichisoni muzivere chisoni nokha ndinjira yadima mukuyendayo

Zika Virus-mfiti

The increase in mob justice death sentences in this country is indeed worrisome. Govt shud not just talk but act by arresting and shaming those caught in the act. Govt shud give mob justice victims decent burials and handsomely compensate the immediate family members so that people think twice before doing it. Why kill 4 people to revenge the death of 1? Were all the 4 caught with a smoking gun? May their souls RIP.

Lydia Phiri

NGO’s and Government should support a Programme that was beaming on MBC TV called Tikhale Tcheru, I recall that programme was acting as a community policing because it was tackling different issues that Malawians are facing, but can’t see it nowadays. I recall watched a mob justice film and that was good…it helped to inform Malawians why they shouldnt kill one, and the basucs were right, so there is need to support such programmes, otherwise we dont have many Police officers to secure all of us.

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