Malawians asked to stop accusing elderly people of witchcraft

Tovwirane Group of Saint John of God in Mzuzu has asked Malawians to stop accusing elderly persons of witchcraft because of their old age but support them to lead comfortable lives.

The senior citizens: Elderly people not witches

Speaking during International Day of Older Persons commemorations in Mzuzu on Monday, St John of God’s Programmes Manager, Christopher Mhone said the elderly need support from all citizens.

“The elderly people need the attention of us the citizens to help them in order for them to acquire good living standards,” he said.

Mhone said most elderly people are accused of witchcraft in communities because of their old age as they are faced with different tremors.

“Once one has reached old age, he or she is faced with psychological tremors which lead to their unwise mental health.

“It is these tremors that make people accuse the elderly of witchcraft,” he explained

Mhone said it is unfortunate that because of such witchcraft accusations, some elderly people end up being killed by mobs or committing suicide.

“For instance, recently one elderly person in Zomba ended up committing suicide following witchcraft accusations,” Mhone said.

He said many elderly people are living in non-conducive environment which affects their health leading to death.

“When we just started Tovwirane Group, we used to receive reports of the death of at least one elderly person every week,” the Manager said.

He added that people should know that most of the elderly today lost their children to HIV and Aids in the 1990s to early 2000 when there were no free anti-retroviral drugs.

“Their children left them with grandchildren whom they struggle to take care of leading to stress,” Mhone said.

Flyness Mtonga, who is in her 70s, hailed the St John of God for the support rendered to her through the Tovwirane Group.

“Before the coming in of Tovwirane Group, I was living under constant stress because of the many challenges I used to face.

“When I fell sick, there was nobody to either take care of me or take me to the hospital; but now with Tovwirane Group, my life has changed because of their support,”she pointed out

Mtonga asked other organizations to emulate St John of God’s gesture by supporting the elderly elsewhere across the country and civic educate people against associating witchcraft with old age.

The International Day of Older Persons is observed on October 1 every year since 1991.

On December 14, 1990 the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish October 1 as the day for the commemoration as recorded in Resolution 45/106.

This year’s commemorations were being held under the theme, “Celebrating older human rights champions”.

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