Just when the Malawian public is being encouraged to eschew the tendency of mob justice, a young man on Monday evening was beaten to death by a group of people for allegedly stealing a mobile phone from a woman in Chilinde township of Lilongwe.
The incident took place near Chilinde Catholic Parish.
The police reportedly arrived at the scene of the incident late and could not save the young man who was in a pool of blood.
There has been an escalating cases of mob justice on suspected thieves, most especially in the capital city Lilongwe.
Vigilantes say a sclerotic justice system has forced them to take matters into their own hands.
Deputy Publicist for Lilongwe Police, Kingsly Dandaula, condemned the vigilant justice.C alling the act murder, Dandaula has since reiterated that justice should only be administered in court of law after the suspects has also been heard.
Mike Nazombe, a social scientist at the University of Malawi, said Malawians may be resorting to mob justice because they mistrust the ability of the country’s law enforcement agencies to deal with criminals.
He said the prevailing mentality is, “let’s take the law into our hands, because those people who were empowered to do it are not able to do it”.
The best way to prevent vigilante justice, Nazombe said, is for the state to improve law enforcement. “Once people gain more trust in their law enforcement agencies like the police and the courts, they are less likely to undermine them with their own actions”.
In a country with just one lawyer for every 37,000 Malawians, the backlog of cases, coupled with funding constraints, means many criminals wait on bail for months or even years for their cases to be heard before a judge.