The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) have appeaeled to the Malawi Police Service to institute swift investigation into criminal elements surrounding the Salima violence and ensure that perpetrators are brought before the courts of law.
The two human rights watchdogs say they are dismayed by the continued attacks on people accused of witchcraft in the country and the failure to bring to justice perpetrators of such crimes.
“CHRR and CEDEP have noted with serious concern ugly scenes of violence that erupted in Chikombe Village in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Makanjira in Salima district on Saturday, 10th April 2021, which led to the death of a 60-year-old man, a Mr. Kalumbu, and the destruction of assorted property belonging to him worth millions of kwacha,” CHRR executive director Michael Kaiyatsa and his CEDEP counterpart, Gift Trapence, say in a statement issued on Thursday.
The statement is in reaction to the killing of a man in Salima as he tried to rescue an old woman from angry villagers who wanted to burn her alive on allegations that she was involved in the mysterious disappearance of another woman in the village.
The old woman was among three people named by a certain witchdoctor as having a hand in the other woman’s disappearance.
CHRR and CEDEP says the Salima killing brings the total number of deaths caused by witchcraft accusations that they have recorded in the country since 2019 to 66.
“Worryingly, although there have been arrests in all these cases, none of those arrests has so far led to a conviction, a situation that has contributed to the growing culture of impunity around witchcraft accusations-related violence in the country. We wish to remind authorities that when attacks on people suspected of witchcraft remain unpunished, a very negative message is sent out there that killing those suspected of witchcraft is acceptable.
“Perpetrators of such crimes are thus emboldened when they realize they can attack their targets without ever facing justice. This impunity not only emboldens perpetrators but also has a chilling effect on those most at risk of being accused of witchcraft, especially the elderly,” emphasize Kaiyatsa and Trapence.
While commending President Lazarus Chakwera and his government for ratifying the African Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa, Kaiyatsa and Trapence have urged the President to demonstrate leadership in ending witchcraft accusations-motivated violence, which disproportionately affects the elderly in the country.
They have also asked the police to ensure that those arrested are brought to justice without delay and that victims of this savage attack have access to appropriate remedies.
“We further urge the police to track down the witchdoctor who was behind the fracas; we also urge the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to do his part and ensure that once police investigations are concluded, the cases are committed to court for trial without any delays,” said the organisations.
Additionally, they call upon government, through the Ministry of Civic Education And National Unity, to roll out a comprehensive mass awareness campaign to sensitize community on the rights of people accused of witchcraft and the law as it stands now.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :