“The three people were subjected to mob justice, killed and then hurriedly buried the same day,” Kyungu said, in a strongly worded statement released Saturday.
He said: “This tragedy follows a sustained pattern of violence over the past four weeks that has emerged recently in Uliwa, Chilumba, previously, Chinsebe, Lupembe, Mwakisulu and Mayofya areas in the district where witchdoctors have performed exorcism on people suspected of witchcraft.
KA DEGRADED, LAWLESS DISTRICT FULL OF BARBARIC ACTS
The Paramount Chief said:” This disturbing turn of events is increasingly turning Karonga into a degraded and lawless district full of barbaric acts which make all upright thinking citizens of [the district] worried and ashamed.
“We must all unite and speak with one voice against acts of lawlessness, violence and brutality in Karonga.”
The Chief, who represents Karonga and Chitipa districts and is also Patron of Karonga-Chitipa Cultural Heritage, , said the acts of violence have “no place in our society and we must guard against them taking a foothold in our midst.
“Humanity,” he said, “ loses its meaning when human lives are taken for granted and are taken out at the mere suspicion of evil-doing.”
The statement was issued after the Chiefs Council and stakeholders held a meeting at Karonga Museum on Saturday.
The PC called on all stakeholders in the including traditional and faith leaders, traditional healers, the District Commissioner, lawmakers, councillors, the Police, district peace committees, area and village development committees, “to be vigilant and conduct community sensitisation meetings to condemn these inhumane acts.”
“We also encourage the Community to report witchdoctors, whose exorcisms lead to such deaths, to the Police and any relevant authorities who must deal with them to the full extent of the law,” the PC said.
He said it was regrettable that Police noted that these issues wre not even reported to the Police before escaping into violence, adding that :” We suspect that families of victims are afraid of community reprisals to do so, please don't fear the community, report the matter to the Police.”
WICHDOCTORS NOT SEMI-GODS
He warned witchdoctors that they should know they are not semi gods. “We encourage the police to act with haste in their investigations into the murders before the situation gets out of hand.”
To the perpetrators of violence and misguided youths, the PC said “it is not a crime to be elderly and one should not take the law into one's hands irrespective of the provocation.”
“Further, the whole process of issuing exorcism/witch-hinting permits to witch-doctors should be looked into critically to prevent some individuals from subverting it for their evil intentions.”
The Paramount Chief offered “Our sympathies at this time remain with all the families that have been touched by the tragic events in Karonga.
“Let us all seek God’s deliverance from the wickedness in our midst. This violence must stop now.”
Malawi laws don’t recognise witchcraft, making belief in witches both widespread and impassioned.
SUSPECTS CHARGED WITH CONDUCT LIKELY TO BREACH PEACE
Suspects are often charged with conduct likely to breach the peace, landing them in jail but also protecting them from mob justice.
The state-funded Law Commission is now reviewing the law-regardless of whether witchcraft exists or not-- hoping it will safeguard the rights of victims, especially women and children who are often the victims of witchcraft allegation.