Malawi Police Service (MPS) has responded to concerns raised by some civil society organisations (CSOs) over increased killings of people accused of witchcraft.
In a response dated November 5 2020, MPS explained progress it has made in about seven cases, most of which it said were referred to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale for her perusal and directives.
In a letter signed by MPS service administrative officer Kelvin Mulezo on behalf of the Inspector General (IG) George Kainja, also detailed names of suspects arrested so far and struggle it was facing in arresting some suspects that fled to Mozambique.
Three CSOs, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Youth and Society and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), wrote the IG asking his office to immediately act on continued killings of the elderly on accusations of witchcraft.
The CSOs’ demand followed the brutal murder of Estele Chigule, 76, at Fumbwa Village, Traditional Authority Tambala in Dedza over witchcraft accusations. She joins several others murdered this year and 46 who were brutally murdered last year.
Cedep executive director Andrew Kavala in an interview yesterday confirmed receiving the response from police, adding they were grateful.
He, however, said besides the letter, there were ongoing discussions between the CSOs and top police authorities, including the IG.
MPS wrote: “I would like to assure you that the Malawi Police Service is equally concerned about the torture and killings of persons accused of practising witchcraft, who, in most cases, are elderly persons, particularly elderly women.”
The CSOs had complained that while arrests had been made, very few had resulted in trials and convictions.
Reads their letter in part: “As human rights organisations, we are dismayed by the lack of progress on the part of the police and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in taking these cases forward to trial.
“Considering the brutality of these crimes, we had expected police and the DPP to act expeditiously to arrest and bring perpetrators to justice so as to deter others who might be inclined to commit similar crimes in future. We would greatly appreciate your kind support by sending us your response within seven days.”
The police in their response cited some cases that were in court, but most of them, according to the police, were referred to the DPP.