An unpublished research report by Chancellor College law lecturer Dr Mwiza Nkhata has found out that the rise in the cases of mob justice is people’s response to rising insecurity in the country.
The report, titled Violent Mob Justice in Malawi and its Implications for the Rule of Law, is based on findings of a research which was conducted across the country’s major cities on the broad thematic area of violent mob justice between December 2013 and January 2014.
The report says the absence of alternative avenues for dealing with criminals also contributes to the occurrence of mob justice as there is only one criminal justice system.
“As one of our key informants poignantly put it, the absence of alternative criminal justice systems has meant that in those places not easily reached by the arm of the law, communities have a greater motivation to improvise in dealing with the situations that face them.
“It is in this improvisation that communities may end up being involved in violent mob justice. Additionally, in instances where the physical presence of authority is remote, it may be cheaper and easier for a community to deal with a suspected offender than to wait for the police to come and extract the suspect,” reads the report.
However, the report argues that perhaps the biggest underlying cause of violent mob justice in the country is the prevailing socio-economic conditions, noting that though modest gains have been made to reduce poverty levels and improve the living standards of Malawians, poverty remains deeply entrenched.
“The poor socio-economic conditions in turn generate a lot of resentment and frustration within the affected populations. The socio-economic conditions in the country are also linked to the reasons that were provided as explaining the underlying causes of violent mob justice,” reads the report.