By Patience Lunda
In June 2022, police reported that Malawi had registered 192 murders in the first quarter of the year.
That figure was a 10 percent increase over a record of 174 cases registered in the first quarter of 2021.
Today, the total number of cases stands at 578, according to the Malawi Police Service (MPS). This means that in the past five months, 396 murders have been committed.
The current total number of murder cases is 34 more as compared to the figures recorded for January to September period in 2021.
According to MPS, the two cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre top the list with Lilongwe City tops registering 120 murder cases while Blantyre City follows with a recorded 63 cases.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Deputy National Police spokesperson, Harry Namwaza cited vigilantism, fighting and killing of motorcycle operators as among the leading factors.
Speaking earlier in the rise of murders in Malawi, Kamuzu College of Health Sciences (Kuhes) professor of psychology in the Department of Mental Health, Chiwoza Bandawe also said sometimes economic hardships trigger feelings of anger and frustrations in people which could cause them to become 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 in 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 said.
Michael Kaiyatsa, Executive Director for Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), described the current situation as shocking.
“It’s hard to believe that within a short period of time we have recorded that much cases of murder. It is high time we do something to deal with problem,” he said.
A security commentator, Sheriff Kaisi, bemoaned the late commencement of cases through the judicial system. He said this leads to frustration to society resulting in some people taking the law into their own hands for instant justice.
To avert the trend, Namwaza said they have intensified raising awareness in communities on the dangers of mob justice.
“We are engaging people to stop mob justice and we are cautioning motorcycle operators to avoid working very late,” he said.
Early last month, the police also reported a rise in cases of suicide, with 208 cases registered between January and August this year as compared to 160 cases registered during the same period last year.