The campaign to solicit views from stakeholders and the public on the review of the Witchcraft Act comes to an end in July 2018, 10 years after being commissioned.
The review of the law which is governed by the Witchcraft Act Cap 7:02 of the laws of Malawi arose due to the increasing cases of witchcraft allegations and violent attacks on people accused of practicing witchcraft.
Deputy chairperson of The Special Law Commission on The Review of the Witchcraft Act Clotilda Sawasawa said Wednesday in Lilongwe consultations will finally end in July, attributing the delay to the complexity of the issue of witchcraft.
“This Special Law Commission has a heavy task before it as it is dealing with a matter that is not easy to resolve using conventional means. As you can appreciate, witchcraft deals with supernatural events that are often times beyond the comprehension of many people in the society.
“It is, therefore, important that the Commission consults widely on the subject,” she said, after opening a regional consultative workshop on the review of the Witchcraft Act for Central Region.
However, Sawasawa pointed out that their job is only to gather nationwide recommendations.
“As a commission, we cannot say there will be any amendments or not. If any, they will come from the consultations we are conducting,” she said.
The meeting was intended to seek views from the general public through various stakeholders.
The stakeholders included lawyers, traditional leaders, traditional healers, government officials, academia and the clergy.
Topics under discussion were on Witchcraft, Is Satanism a form of witchcraft, Witchcraft and the Criminal Justice System, among others.
Similar meetings are also expected to take place in the Southern and Northern regions.
One of the participants to the workshop, Traditional Authority Mbwatalika from Lilongwe said witchcraft does exist but it becomes difficult to handle such type of cases due to lack of tangible evidence.
“Some of us [chiefs] stopped handling cases of witchcraft in our courts because the law does not recognise the existence of witchcraft.
“But it is important to review this Act so that we may be able to handle the cases because even though we stopped handling them; cases of witchcraft keep coming before us,” she said.
In his remarks, executive director of the Association of Circular Humanism in Malawi George Thindwa said there should be a clear difference between belief in witchcraft and the existence of witchcraft in order to come up with a fair law.
“What we [Association of Circular Humanism] want on our part is that there should be a serious distinction between witchcraft as a belief and the actual existence of witchcraft.
“As a belief; witchcraft exists among a lot of Malawians but what is in contention is the actual existence of witches and wizards, who do not exist,” said Thindwa.