Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has condemned extrajudicial killings in which at least 12 people have lost their lives in Neno, Karonga and Ntchisi districts in the past seven weeks.
In October this year, a mob in Neno killed four people on suspicion that they were practising witchcraft, two others were killed in Ntchisi while four were brutally murdered in Karonga last week on similar suspicions.
CCJP national coordinator Boniface Chibwana in an interview on Monday said incidents of extrajudicial killings are on the rise in the country partly because of the absence of police officers in some communities.
He said: “We want to condemn in the strongest terms these killings. The sanctity of life has to be respected at all times. If people have grievances, let them follow the right procedures, rather than taking the law in their hands. We want law enforcers to pass stiff punishment to those involved in the killings.”
Chibwana added that the country is becoming lawless because people have lost trust in the Malawi Police Service (MPS).
According to CCJP statistics, 12 people have so far been killed in Traditional Authority (T/A) Dambe in Neno—eight males and four females. These were killed separately in villages such as Chimbalanga four, Kumbwani four, Mofati two, Mseula one and Mtemankhwali one.
Chibwana said a woman from Mofati Village is still in hiding for fear of being killed on suspicion that she practices witchcraft.
Last week, four people were killed in T/As Kyungu, Mwilang’ombe and Kilipula in Karonga.
The increase in the extrajudicial killings, according to Chibwana, indicated that the country is becoming lawless. He called on MPS to deploy more personnel in districts where such incidents are happening.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Mzuzu University security studies lecturer Eugene Njoloma urged government to provide the necessary basic needs to citizens.
He attributed the killings to socio-economic deprivation, warning the situation may worsen if government does not bridge the social deprivation gap.
Said Njoloma: “There is little trust between communities and police. Incidents of killing each other anyhow will be worse if government cannot rise to provide solutions because the younger generation will have the same mentality of killing people anyhow.”
According to Chibwana, in Karonga, over four people were killed on Christmas Eve. And in 2019, more than 14 people died and some were displaced as they ran for their lives.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said in a separate interview that police will continue enforcing the law to ensure peace and stability.
He said: “We want to state that mob justice is a crime. We are investigating all these cases which happened in various areas. We will make sure they face the law.
“In the meantime, we will continue working with communities because there are selected incidents where police seem to be in bad relationship with citizens.”
Meanwhile, Chibwana say CCJP will embark on mass sensitisation campaign to ensure that people are enlightened that the life of a human being is sanctified.