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Murder cases on the rise

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By Serah Chilora

Malawi has registered 192 murder cases in the first quarter of this year, which is an increase of 10.3 percent compared to last year’s 174 cases during the same period.

According to information provided to us by Police Deputy Public Relations Officer Harry Namwaza, the Central West Police Region recorded the highest number of murder cases.

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The information indicates that the region recorded 62 cases, the Central East Region 17 cases, the South West Region 27 cases while the South East and the Northern regions recorded 42 and 25 cases respectively, with the Eastern Region recording 19 cases.

“Last year, they were as follows: Central West Region 59, Central East Region 21, South West Region 25, South East Region 19, Northern Region 26 and Eastern Region 24,” Namwaza said.

He has attributed the increase in this year’s cases largely to scenarios where people take the law into their own hands.

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“One of the factors can be vigilantism, where people want to take the law into their own hands. Despite cases of mob justice being reduced during this period, still we have had the challenges as some people still want to take the law into their hands. We had few cases also where people were attacked and killed during robberies,” the police deputy spokesperson said.

He then indicated that the police are employing both proactive and reactive measures to curb the problem.

“Where proactive shall mean engaging the people through sensitisation meeting and the media to ensure that they get well informed on the dangers of mob justice or taking the law into their own hands. At times, we also share security tips with people on how they can report when they are attacked or where we feel there is a security threat to their lives.

“On the other hand, as a reactive approach, we are striving to ensure that all those involved in murder cases are arrested and brought before the court of law. I can say that most of the murder perpetrators were arrested and are answering charges in court. And I have also to report that there are other cases we are investigating to identify and arrest the perpetrators,” he said.

Namwaza has since appealed to the public to work with the police by tipping the law enforcers about murder suspects who are yet to be arrested.

According to the information that we have, cases of hacking have also increased from 18 during the first quarter of last year to 24 this year, representing a rise of nine percent.

However, according to police, mob justice cases have dropped from 42 to 36.

Kamuzu College of Health Sciences (Kuhes) professor of psychology in the Department of Mental Health, Chiwoza Bandawe, said sometimes economic hardships trigger anger feelings in people that sometimes lead to cases of murder.

Bandawe said sometimes because of frustrations, people express themselves in a manner that is violent and aggressive.

“It is called the Frustration Aggression Hypothesis, that throughout history, it has been discovered that whenever there are economic challenges, people tend to take out their frustration by becoming violent and aggressive.

“This hypothesis tells us that one way of handling and coping with the stresses of life is through violence, where you cease to see someone else as a human being basically and therefore they become a representation of the pain that you are going through. So that is why sometimes we see increased violence,” he said.

Chiwoza said oftentimes it is important that a society and a nation at large should be open up to talk about the economic hardships that people are going through and several other things.

“It would be important for people to be constantly reminded of the value of someone else.

They should find ways of talking about something if they are going through something.

“A reminder that we are all one and probably going through similar challenges and that being taught is our religious circles and wherever we can we should remind ourselves about the value of the social connection. When someone murders someone, they have not killed just one individual they have changed lives of so many people,” he explained.

Recently, Paralegal Advisory Services Institute (Pasi) disclosed that 120 people who are facing charges of homicide and are being remanded at Maula Prison in Lilongwe are set to appear before four judges at a camp court in a week.

The revelation came at a time a Malawi Prison Inspectorate Report of 2020-21 indicated that most prisons in Malawi are congested.

For instance, at Maula Prison, the cell that was meant to hold about 200 remandees is currently accommodating 1,155 remandees.

Out of this number, 304 are answering murder cases.

In a 2007 case of Francis Kafantayeni, himself a murder convict, and others versus the Attorney General, the High Court of Malawi invalidated the mandatory death penalty and found that all prisoners that had been given a mandatory death sentence were entitled to a new sentencing hearing.

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