The High Court in Mzuzu on Wednesday ordered all traditional healers, witchdoctors, charm producers, distributors and fortune tellers to stop operating in the country.
The court has also stopped all media houses from running advertisements of services of witchdoctors in an attempt to stop the killing of people with albinism.
The injunction, granted by High Court Judge Dingiswayo Madise, says any person who disobeys the order shall be guilty of contempt of court and may be imprisoned, fined or have their assets seized.
It also orders the three Mzuzu based residents—Evans Mponda, Osward Phiri and Mary Nyirenda—who sought the order to file inter-partes summons for continuation of the injunction within seven days.
The three have sued Dr Masamba Asiyana Mwale and Dr Apite Apitana Chiwaya in their personal capacities and representing a class of all witchdoctors, traditional healers, charm producers, sellers or distributors, fortune tellers, lot or magic users in the country.
According to their affidavit, the three say they have been victimised by the traditional doctors in various ways and were subjected to mental torture, anguish and hopelessness.
Phiri said he has a nine-year-old cousin with albinism and fears for his life amid increased abductions, killings and harassment of people with albinism in the country.
Reads the affidavit: “Being a guardian and next friend of his cousin, the second plaintiff has found out and verily believes that all the killings are stemming from first class of defendants [witch doctors] who prescribe to their good for nothing and lazy clients bodily parts of albinos to form part of concoctions which can boost businesses, generate money miraculously…”
In the application, Nation Publications Limited (NPL) and Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL) are second and third defendants for carrying adverts that attract people to visit the traditional doctors (the first defendants) hence assisting them to achieve their goals.
Nyirenda claims that Chiwaya assured her that she would get back pieces of her stolen property and that her lover, who had abandoned her, would return within a week once she bought charms valued at K50 000 (about $73). She said she never got the desired results three months down the line.
Mponda, on the other hand, said he never got healed from an ailment when he sought help from Mwale and paid him K120 000 (about $174) after being attracted by adverts in the media.
In an interview, lawyer for the trio, George Kadzipatike, said if the order is breached he will vigorously pursue contempt of court proceedings in the High Court against any person.
Malawi has recorded 17 murders of people with albinism since January last year and 66 cases of abductions and other related crimes. n