A mob on Sunday killed 67-year-old Esinala Mbowe in Karonga District on allegations that she bewitched her 37-year-old son Patrick Chitete.
Karonga Police Station spokesperson Enock Livason confirmed the development Tuesday.
According to Malawi Network for Older Persons (Manepo) the murder of Mbowe brings the total the number of elderly people killed in 2020 on allegations of witchcraft to 15.
“Patrick Chitete fell sick sometime back and passed away on December 24 while admitted to Atupele Mission Hospital.
“Unfortunately, some of the people in the village started alleging that Esinala Mbowe had bewitched Chitete. As a result, they mobilised themselves and killed her, after which they set her body ablaze,” Livason said.
He said police rushed to the scene and put off the fire,
“We actually pulled the body of Esinala Mbowe out of the fire. Investigations are on-going to arrest those that were involved in the brutal killing of the woman.
“Police in the district would like to remind people that mob justice is not a justification for murder. Therefore, anyone found taking part in killing someone in the name of mob justice will face the law as this is also murder,” he said.
Mbowe was from Mwahimba Village in the area of Traditional Authority Kyungu in Karonga.
The death of Mbowe has not gone down well with stakeholders such as Manepo, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation and the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep).
Manep Executive Director Andrew Kavala described the development as a bad ending to 2020.
“Generally, I would say we have not fared well in 2020, which has been a terrible year when it comes to safeguarding the lives of the elderly. We are looking at over 15 elderly men and women being killed in the year. I mean losing a life is something that the country needs to be worried about,” Kavala said.
In a statement, Cedep Executive Director Gift Trapence and CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa has urged authorities to take all necessary measures in enhancing the safety of older persons in the country.
“We, as a human rights organisation, 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.
“We urge the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions to improve on coordination so that investigations can be concluded and the cases can be committed to the High Court for trial expeditiously,” the statement reads.
Over the weekend, Bishop Martin Mtumbuka of the Karonga Diocese of the Catholic Church said it was sad that authorities were paying a blind eye to mob justice.
Mtumbuka cited the killing of five people recently in Lupembe, Karonga. However, the wheels of justice have been slow to catch up with the perpetrators.