Malawi Police Service in Nkhotakota are hunting for 23 year-old Jonas M’bwana for allegedly assaulting 92 year-old Bernard Milius who eventually died at the district hospital over witchcraft allegations.
Nkhotakota Police publicist, Williams Kajoloweka Kaponda, confirmed the incident and said that a postmortem conducted showed that Milius died due to severe head injuries.
Said Kaponda: “On the day, the suspect [M’bwana] who had been accusing the deceased for practicing witchcraft went to the deceased’s house and assaulted him severely before setting his house ablaze.
“When we arrived at the scene we found the victim unconscious and rushed him to Nkhotakota district hospital where he, unfortunately, died upon arrival due to severe head injuries. Meanwhile we are appealing to the general public to assist with information that can lead to the arrest of the suspect to answer a murder charge which is against Section 209 of the penal code.”
Milius’s death has since received condemnation from the Malawi Network of Older Persons’ Organization (MANEPO).
The organisation’s country director, Andrew Kavala, told Nyasa Times that they were “disappointed and dismayed” by Milius’ death.
“MANEPO strongly condemns the killing of Bernard Milius and calls upon the Malawi Police Service to bring the perpetrators to book as soon as possible,” said Kavala.
He said it is very unbecoming for one, let alone older persons, to live under a cloud of suspicion.
“We are past the era when one could do what pleases them, without being restrained by the muscle of the law. It is imperative that everyone should use proper channels to address concerns, for one cannot concurrently play the roles of an accuser, prosecutor and judge,” he said.
According to him, the country’s Witchcraft Act of 1911 does not recognise existence of witchcraft and states that it is an offence to accuse anyone of practising witchcraft.
“In 2016, Government approved the National Policy for Older Persons, which recognises the duty of the State to protect the rights of older persons in a country grappling with changes in traditional family values and the erosion of social support structures,” Kavala said.
He said one of the key drivers leading to the continuous escalation in the cases of abuse, discrimination and even killings of older persons is the failure by law enforcement agencies to prosecute those who accuse older men and women of practising witchcraft.
“The uncoordinated responses at various levels of the justice administrative system and the absence of structured community support systems continue to make Malawi one of the worse countries for one to grow old in Africa,” he said.
Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
“More so, the recently adopted African Union Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa calls for each African state to be responsible for developing and reviewing existing legislation to ensure older persons receive equal treatment and protection and ensure that law enforcement officers at all levels are trained to effectively interpret and enforce policies and legislation to protect the rights of older persons,” he said.
MANEPO is an umbrella body coordinating both national and international organisations/institutions whose aim is to help older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives in Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :