– A Malawian ‘hyena’ who sexually initiates 12-year-old girls was arrested on Tuesday, July 26
– Eric Aniva practised a tradition that allowed him to sexually initiate young girls into womanhood
– Malawi’s President Mutharika ordered for his immediate arrest after a BBC documentary exposed him
Malawi Police in Nsanje say they are looking for nine men known as ‘hyenas’ who have been defiling young children in an outdated cultural cleansing initiation.
Nsanje police station officer Cuthbert Kaonga said the sex predators have since gone into hiding but was upbeat they would be netted.
“Our officers are everywhere and am sure they will be arrested today,” he said.
The hunt for the nine hyenas comes following the arrest of Eric Niva who was paid to have sex with young girls.
He confessed to BBC to having slept with 104 girls since 1980s.
Kaonga said Niva was arrested in an operation which involved Chief Malemia, the district commissioner and the district HIV and AIDS coordinator.
“Aniva told us that he stopped the practise long ago yet he has told the BBC that he continues practising it so we will find out the truth,” he said.
Chief Malemia said he had ordered a stop to the malpractice long ago and was surprised that some people were practising it underground.
Women activist Emma Kaliya said the police should as well arrest the parents and villagers who facilitated and promoted the defilement of the girls as young as 12.
Civil rights activist Rafiq Hajat said the police and prosecuting state agencies should be more proactive than reactive, saying they would have arrested Aniva four years ago when the local media first broke the news story.
“They should not always wait for the President to make orders after watching or listening to foreign media,” he said.
The issue has polarised and divided Malawians in social media as some say there are many rich men out there who are luring very young girls into sex for money; others are questioning why Mutharika is pouncing on those who are fulfilling cultural obligations whilst shielding cabinet ministers who plundered the billions of Kwacha through the infamous cashgate.
Director of communication at State House Bright Molande told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme that indeed the arrest has comes after orders from resident Mutharika.
He said Aniva would be prosecuted for violating children’s rights.
Malawi, which has one of the highest HIV infections in the world, criminalises sex with a person under the age of 16.
If found guilty of underage sex, Aniva could be imprisoned for life
Molande also said President Mutharika was disturbed by the revelations made in the story and has vowed to crackdown on the cultural practice.
The arrest of Niva however has generally been welcomed by many Malawians who see it as the start of a long and prolonged battle against harmful cultural practices.
The sex cleansing practice is a traditional custom endorsed and funded by some communities in southern Malawi but the government has been trying to stop it.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :