CCJP rescues “witchcraft-accused” woman from blood baying villagers

Paralegal officers from the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of the Archdiocese of Lilongwe (CCJP Lilongwe) have rescued an ageing woman – Rosemary Malikeni – whom the community was accusing of practicing witchcraft.

The people of Chiliwu Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Malili in Lilongwe were baying the blood of Malikeni over allegations that she was a witch.

Despite the Witchcraft Act of 1911 assuming that the act does not exist and makes it an offence to accuse someone of being a witch or wizard in Malawi, there have been rampant cases of elderly people, especially women and children, being accused and abused for alleged practice of the act.

Lidi (in khaki vest) poses for a photo with chiefs and a woman accused of practicing witchcraft–Photo courtesy of FRANCISCO LIDI

The development prompted CCJP Lilongwe, with financial support from Charles Stewart-Mott Foundation, to roll out a Primary Justice Project to enhance access to justice for women and children through improving the quality and accessibility of the primary justice system.

The project, among others, is working towards eliminating harmful cultural practices and cases of extra-judicial acts (mob justice) in the society.

Against this background, CCJP Lilongwe volunteers rushed to Chiliwu Village early this week to rescue Malikeni whom the community had mobilized to descend on.

One of the volunteers, Francisco Lidi, said the villagers had initially chased the women from her house.

“We summoned the chiefs and their subjects. We warned them against the decision they had taken, as it was against the law,” said Lidi in an interview on Thursday.

He said the sensitization ended with the chiefs and their subjects apologizing to the accused woman.

Village head Chiliwu commended CCJP Lilongwe for coming in time to save the life of Malikeni.

“People were ready to kill her. I am happy her life has been saved because all of us could have been arrested in the aftermath of her murder,” said the chief.

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