While we were still reeling from the shock of the senseless killing of a girl with albinism in Kasungu, we were yet again barraged with news about the attack of an elderly woman in Mzimba.
The two sad events happened during the 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence which wind up today.
Perhaps without the video depicting the attack going viral, we might have never known that such a foolish event had happened somewhere in the country.
In fact, there are many attacks on the elderly bordering on witchcraft accusations that have happened in villages but are never reported.
It is really ridiculous that old age is being taken by some irrational people as a crime.
Why should someone be seen as a good person all the days of their lives only to be judged as a witch after attaining old age?
While beliefs in witchcraft are controversial, there never is ultimate evidence that someone indeed engaged in such acts.
More importantly, our laws criminalise calling someone a witch or accusing them of practising witchcraft.
Failure to explain some occurrences should not be an excuse for dragging witchcraft into the fray.
It is pathetic that in this day and age, with all the enlightenment that human progress has gone through, we should be busy talking about some dark beliefs bordering on witchcraft.
People should not be afraid of getting old because someone somewhere might just wake up one day and accuse them of being witches.
Being of advanced years is simply a blessing that should in fact be embraced affectionately. Elsewhere in the world, the elderly are seen as wells of wisdom and go-to persons when trouble hits. They are loved and protected so that in the twilights of their lives, they have the peace they need.
Our traditional leaders must start talking and acting tough on attacks directed at the elderly who are accused of practising witchcraft.
There is need for drastic mindset change if this senselessness has to come to an end.
The Mzimba incident should prod the nation into some serious conversation on how it treats its elderly people.
Several other incidents on witchcraft accusations that have been reported before tell us that there is a crisis in our midst that we do not want to seriously explicitly talk about.
What is really depressing is that some people you would think are a bit enlightened still believe that an occurrence that cannot be easily explained in the metaphysical sense must have something to do with witchcraft.
In the Mzimba incident, it is refreshing to see that the police moved in swiftly to arrest the suspected perpetrators.
What those two women— who were filling up the grave—went through is something we should never wish anyone to experience.
It was even worse for the woman who was hit in the face before she slipped into the grave where she says she saw death staring in her face.
All that was happening while some local leaders were there watching. In fact, they might have been among those cheering the abusers to go ahead with their torment.
Let the case be brought to its logical conclusion so that it serves as a lesson to others who feel they can accuse an elderly person of practising witchcraft and mobilise an attack on the victim without any consequences.
We should get rid of this shame that comes with attacking the elderly over senseless accusations.
It is sad that relatives of the victims are in most cases involved in the attacks. Sometimes they are the first ones to accuse their grandmothers and grandfathers of being behind certain misfortunes in the family.
In some cases, you hear that someone being accused of practising witchcraft has admitted to doing that. Studies have shown that such people often make such admissions under duress.
Those who are not lucky enough end up being lynched by their accusers. They die painful deaths for crimes they never committed.
There are also instances where witchdoctors are invited into villages where they are asked to identify witches mostly after a certain ‘strange’ event has occurred in the village.
The so-called exorcism, which is even illegal, sometimes results in innocent people being sent to their early graves.
We have a long way to go to get rid of this senseless perception that once an event that we cannot naturally explain occurs, then it has to do with witchcraft.
We must always remember that accusing someone of practising witchcraft or of being a witch is a crime.
Above all, it is not a crime to be blessed with a long life. There is nothing wrong with being an elderly person and that age is not synonymous with witchcraft.
So, the senseless and shameful attacks directed at such people must come to an end.
Alick Ponje is a features writer at The Times Group. He graduated from the University of Malawi with a bachelor’s degree in education, majoring in literature in English. Follow him on Twitter @aponje