Witchcraft Strife Storms Malawi
Filed Under: Music & Film, World | Posted: 02/03/2008 at 2:00AM
Comments | Region: Malawi
Cases of witchcraft have stormed Malawi that the Malawi Police Service has confessed that without any backing legislation it is failing to handle such cases, which are coming in hundreds each week.
Just last week scores of police officers had to be deployed to a certain district of Mzimba which borders with Zambia, in the northern Malawi where people took the law in their own hands and started administering justice to family suspected of witchcraft.
The incident occurred when five children of between the ages of two and 11 of the same family, claiming to have been involved in a witchcraft plane crash, were found naked outside their home while bleeding profusely from their genitals in the wee hours of March 25 2007.
When they were discovered, the children looked tired and confused with hands lengthened out of the ordinary, mouths extended and lips dropping close to their chests with protruding bellies and buttocks.
Two of the small girls died a few hours later and when the seriously injured three currently bedridden at Mzuzu Referral Hospital were quizzed; they revealed that a neighbouring family was teaching them witchcraft.
The accused witchcraft instructor, retired civil servant Medson Kachilika 77, admitted to the police that indeed he practices witchcraft and he had been teaching over 100 children around the area.
He was forced by the police to transform them into their into normal beings.
Roman Ngwira, mother of the children has said she never suspected that her children were being taught witchcraft, let alone flying at night.
"Every night I used to sleep in the same bed and sharing beddings with my smallest daughter Clemencia, who passed away in the crash and never for once observed anything strange," said the dejected mother.
People in the area went amok and descended on his two houses and torched it down. The family run for dear life to Mzimba Police station where the Police have said they will still e keeping them in custody for safety reasons.
In Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre the police have locked horns with residents of the populous Ndirande Township who have lived under the terror of unknown vampire and want to deal with it using witch doctors that came from Mozambique.
Students at two secondary schools in the area have continuously been attacked at night while in their sleep in their hostels while over 50 women have had their faces mangled and raped by the unknown vampire.
Such casualties, several of whom have lost their lives, have also overwhelmed the health centre in the area.
Police patrols in the area brought no halt to the onslaught, prompting the residents to seek the assistance of magicians from Mozambique who claimed to be well equipped to net the culprits.
However, when the magicians wanted to perform their wizardly to bust of the suspected culprits the police stopped them and asked the immigration department to repatriate them back to Mozambique as they said this could bring uncontrollable acts of mob justice.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Nelson Bophani told the Southern Times that without any law to empower them to prosecute suspects of witchcraft, they are helpless.
"At Lilongwe Police Model Station where I am the officer-in-charge, we get an average of five cases of witchcraft daily but we cannot do anything," he said.
Chief Law Reform officer in the Malawi Law Commission Chizaso Nyirongo said although there is a Witch Craft Act within the laws of Malawi, there is no clause within such legal documents that empowers the police.
"All the Act does is acknowledge the existence of the practice," he said.
He concurred with Bophani that Malawi badly needs this law, especially looking at the growing strife.
A group of human rights have said the Witch Craft does not serve the purposes of the present Malawi as was enacted by the colonial government in 1901.
One of such groups, Eye of the Child said due to the traditionalistic nature of witchcraft, government introduce traditional courts to resolve problems of this nature.
Eye of the Child Executive Director Maxwell Matewere said traditional courts would curb the malpractice and this must be considered as a case of urgency especially looking at the increased number of children reportedly being taught witchcraft in Malawi.
"It has also been revealed that children believed to be practising witchcraft are chased from their homes and are ostracised from the community they live," he said.
He said consequently, some children have endured physical abuse that includes beating and sometimes even killed, as was the case in Blantyre when an aunt killed her niece and nephew during an attempt to exorcise them.
Margret Ali of Save the Children (Malawi) said government should acknowledge the existence of witchcraft and take a leaf out of the books of other countries that confronts the issue through proper legislation.
"Government should commission an in-depth research on witchcraft and related issues to have a better understanding of the practice, its impact and possible solutions," she said.