86 killed in mob justice


Act of mob justice have cost lives of 86 people between January 2019 and this month across the country, a development a clinical psychologist has attributed to frustrations with various social ills.

Police said witchcraft, theft allegations and land disputes are the common causes of the mob which usually targets the elderly.

Central Region Police deputy spokesperson, Patrick Kasauka, on Friday said it was sad that “mob justice has been prescribed as best way of dealing with offenders.”


“Statistically, police reports suggest skyrocketing of mob justice cases recently. For example, Central Region in particular, as of 22nd November 2019, from January 2019, registered 69 deaths which occurred in connection to mob justice.

“Lilongwe Police Station registered 31 deaths within the specified period, Mchinji following with eight deaths, Salima seven, Kasungu six, Kanengo five, Ntchisi four, and other district police formations had their own shares too,” he said.

He added: “It is quite disheartening to note that violence is so normalised in our society to the extent that ordinary people commit horrific acts in response to various crimes without remorse. To a law abiding citizen, these statistics should trigger some goose pimples considering that the figures are so alarming.”


In the latest incident in the region, a mob killed two elderly persons in Ntchisi District over witchcraft allegations last Tuesday, a month after two suspected armed robbers lost their lives in Ntcheu.

Ntchisi Police spokesperson, Richard Kaponda, said the mob killed 78-year-old Dickson Thomas from M’njeza Village and his 69-year-old wife Veronica Semion from Mataya Village, both from Traditional Authority (T/A) Nthondo in the district, whereas a third targeted victim was rescued by well-wishers.

Elsewhere, Southern Region Police spokesperson, Ramsy Mshani, Friday said 12 people have lost their lives due to mob justice attacks registered from January 2019 to October 2019, down from 15 murdered at the same stage last year.

“Usually, the targeted are those suspected of theft and witchcraft, more especially this rainy season. Most of the elderly persons are attacked on allegations that they are preventing rainfall. We attribute the decline in cases this year to sensitisation campaigns we have embarked on,” Mshani said.

A few weeks ago, police arrested Paul Kamwetsa, 32, for allegedly hacking two elderly people to death at Nseula Village, T/A Dambe in Neno on allegation that they were behind the death of the suspected murder’s I7-year-old brother.

Northern Region police were unable to release statistics on deaths caused by mob justice in the region but of late the media has been awash with such reports.

Last month, five people died in Nkhata Bay in two separate attacks connected to mob justice over a land dispute.

In the first incident, a fierce fight between subjects from Msakanene and Mkombezi villages left four people dead and in another case, a man hacked to death a woman he claimed owed him.

Malawi Network for Older Persons Organisation (Manepo) Executive Director, Andrew Kavala, has since condemned the continued abuse and killing of older persons in the country.

College of Medicine clinical psychologist, Dr Chiwoza Bandawe, Tuesday said mob justice cases might be on the increase because some members of society are frustrated with social ills.

“In mob justice, people tend to vent out their frustrations in a group context. The group takes the mind of its own. People no longer feel personally responsible for their actions and do things they wouldn’t when alone. They identify themselves with the group. When alone, you censor yourself,” he said.

Bandawe said increasing exposure to mob justice can encourage more involvement in such cases, as people lose their humanity.

“The frustrations could be as a result of a combination of many factors. We have seen land disputes causing violence and some frustrations are to do with justice system and anger with the criminals themselves. Some people feel that when they refer suspects to the police, the suspects would eventually be granted bail,” he said.

Bandawe suggested that counselling and open community meetings could offer a platform for people to vent their frustrations.

Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

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