Acts of terror continue to set in among fear-gripped residents of Mulanje and Phalombe districts, following strong beliefs of existence of ‘blood suckers’.
This comes days after the Malawi Police Service issued a statement that the blood suckers issue is a hoax.
We have established that people are no longer sleeping in their houses but in groups; for fear of being attacked.
This was during our visit to Traditional Authorities Mthilamanja and Mabuka in Mulanje, where the communities believe the ‘blood suckers’ are from Mozambique and they are collecting the blood to use for rituals to earn more money.
Malawi News has been told by the communities that they have been failing to catch the perpetrators because they are using magical powers. They are allegedly turning into cats or dogs before disappearing.
We observed that the communities have become paranoid. This was particularly noticed at T/A Mthilamanja’s area, where the community pleaded with us to ensure that we leave the place early, for fear that we may be attacked. The communities are questioning and in extreme cases, attacking any stranger(s).
The communities allege that the ‘blood suckers’ popularly referred to as ‘anamapopa’ are using some ‘technology’, which involves the initial spraying of chemical or using some electric powers to weaken the target, before sucking blood. The blood sucking is alleged to be done using some remotely controlled ‘gadgets’.
Communities describe the blood sucking process as being ‘complicated’ saying one can be sucked from a distance through the window or roof.
On the night of Tuesday, September 19, 2017, the alleged blood suckers attacked two houses in group village Mzizila’s area in Traditional Authority Mthilamanja in Mulanje, and allegedly managed to suck blood from one woman.
The victim, Chimwemwe Sikova claims she was awaken from a deep slumber by a sharp, piercing pain on her forehead.
“I felt a needle getting into my forehead’s flesh. The rest of my body was numb. I struggled to touch my forehead. I felt a hot, sharp, injection like metal. I alerted my brother, who was also in the same room. The thing was quickly removed, everything happened so fast,” claimed the 20 year old single mother.
Her impoverished home is surrounded by other houses and looks secure. Her four roomed home is almost empty, except for her clothes, blanket, bamboo mat and kitchen utensils.
“I was very weak. The numbness on my body was still there. I was not myself. I was literally gasping,” she recalled.
But group village head Mzizila refused to give her any reference letter to present at the hospital.
“He warned me against telling health workers or any authority about what had happened. He instead advised that I present what I felt to receive appropriate treatment,” she said.
Village Headman Mzizila confirmed to have refused to give any letter to Sikova, saying as far as he is concerned, there are no blood suckers in his area.
“For two weeks now, we have had these rumours. But no one has been arrested. I was surprised when people came demanding for a letter for me to certify that blood suckers attacked this young woman. I refused to issue that letter, I had no convincing evidence,” he said.
Our findings indicate that she went to Chonde Health Centre where she presented signs of high fever, dehydration and weakness.
Her health passport booklet indicate that Sikova had a laboratory blood analysis, which revealed that she had an infection and low levels of glucose, but her blood level is normal. The results also show that she has no Malaria, the blood pressure is normal and medically, there is no trace that she had been sucked blood. She was given a short admission. She received a litre of water through drip.
We have learnt that the incident was reported to Luchenza police-substation and CID officers visited Sikova’s home, took photographs interviewed her and the neighbours. But the station’s Station Officer, Robert Nakoma said his office does not know anything on this matter.
Our visit to TA Mabuka’s area was greeted by the presence of so many police officers. who are patrolling the area during the day and night.
Last week, three strangers were burnt to death after the communities allegedly found them with a bag containing slinge(s), benzene, gloves and other sharp metals, which are believed to be part of the sucking equipment.
“My child took one of the metals but the police took it away from him. Nothing from this bag remained in our area…The police took everything,” said the wife to the TA, Stella Tsikheya.
She says many village heads of the area, including her husband, (TA Mabuka) are suspected to have sold off people to strangers in exchange for money, hence the recent attacks.
“He went into hiding after noting that people were coming after him. They didn’t hurt us but they vandalized our house, the court and his office,” she said.
The TA’s Clerk, Peter Kanyeza Phiri says his family is living in fear and they are no longer sleeping in their home.
“The blood suckers are real. They have been to my house. They sprayed their weakening chemical but we noticed it earlier and managed to escape. My eyes were hurting and I ran out of breath,” he confidently said.
Phiri alleged that the blood suckers are from Mozambique and they are using magic charms.
“They can’t be arrested because they are using strong charms. I’m told they are turning into cats or dogs before they vanish. Those that were captured were caught by naked people. Otherwise they will keep being on the run,” he said.
Phiri said the community has been advised not to shout or make any noise should they be attacked.
Mulanje Police spokesperson, Gresham Ngwira said the police maintain their earlier statement that doubts the existence of blood suckers.
“Nobody has been caught (red handed) to prove that this is real. If it involves magic, it is hard for us to establish as well. The Police are not trained to detect charms. We maintain our neutral position until we have concrete evidence,” he said.
Last Saturday, an angry mob in TA Mabuka burnt three people to death on suspicion that they are blood suckers. Several houses of people believed to have a connection have been destroyed.
In Phalombe, two ambulances were attacked on suspicion that they carried the blood suckers.
Meanwhile, Mulanje Police says it has arrested 24 people in relation to the violence associated with this issue.