CSOs condemn killing of elderly woman in Karonga

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) have condemned the gruesome murder of a 67-year-old woman in Karonga District over witchcraft claims.

Angry villagers in the area of Traditional Authority Kyungu on Sunday set on fire, Esinala Mbowe on allegations that she killed her 37-year-old son through witchcraft.

The incident comes barely two months after another woman was brutally killed in Dedza District over similar witchcraft accusations.

A joint statement released on December 29, 2020 co-signed by CHRR executive director Michael Kaiyatsa and CEDEP executive director Gift Trapence said the murder is a stark reminder of government’s persistent failure to protect older people from killings based on witchcraft accusations.

“We note that every time such killings occur, authorities issue statements of condemnation, promising to take firmer action to protect older people from such violence. Yet the killings continue.

“It is also quite disheartening that although individuals are arrested for such crimes, a majority of the cases do not proceed to trial due to failure in the administration of justice.

“For the few that make it to court, the charges and penalties often do not match the gravity of the crimes, creating a climate of impunity as well as deep fear among the elderly.

“As human rights organisations, we have previously raised concerns with other human rights organisations about the lack of progress on crimes related to violence on the basis of witchcraft accusations, but apparently there is no change,” the statement reads.

The civil society organisations (CSOs) have since asked the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to ensure that cases can be committed to the high court for trial expeditiously.

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