The media has reported five deaths in the past three weeks – two persons murdered in Mzimba around 23 March; two persons burnt to death in Chitipa around 25 March and one man murdered in Rumphi on 4 April. In addition, 10 separate violent attacks were reported during the same period in Kasungu, Ntchisi, Dowa, Mchinji, Karonga and Nkhata Bay.
“These attacks included violent assaults on police officers and health workers, as well as the destruction of buildings and vehicles. Dangerous myths and misinformation are feeding these vigilante attacks, which constitute serious breaches of Malawian criminal law and human rights standards,’ Maria Jose Torres, UN Resident Coordinator for Malawi, said in a statement.
“The UN Malawi commends efforts to date by authorities to arrest suspects of these criminal acts as well as local messaging to speak out against this senseless behavior,” she said.
Torres warned that “much more is required to stop this situation from worsening. The UN calls on national and local authorities to act urgently, including by conducting immediate investigations into all attacks; arresting and prosecuting alleged perpetrators; delivering social, psychological and medical support for victims; and rapid action to dispel the harmful beliefs that lead to these attacks.”
She said: “Members of Parliament can play an important role by countering misinformation in their constituencies, while religious and traditional leaders can send clear messages to their communities.”
Torres however said the UN remains committed to supporting national authorities and communities to address this situation.
Nine people from five districts suspected to have been blood suckers have been killed in mob justice’s attacks, as Police arrest 47 suspects who have been charged with murder, erecting illegal roadblocks and damaging property, Police national spokesman James Kadadzera says.
Kadadzera said the districts where this happened are Chitipa, Karonga and Mzimba in the North, and Kasungu, Ntchisi and Mchinji from the Centre.
The mobs attack strangers suspecting them to be ‘blood suckers’, Police said. In Mzuzu and Nkhata bay, mobs are said to be have been searching bloodsuckers in homes and rest houses, victimizing innocent people and kill those they suspect to be blood suckers.
Kadadzera says rumours of blood sucking were myths which Police had probed and had found no tangible evidence to support blood sucking.
He attributed the attacks and killings to jealousy, illiteracy and poverty which force citizens to take law into their own hands and kill suspected blood suckers.
In Mzimba alone, 27 out of 37 people have been arrested where last week one person was burned for being suspected to be a blood sucker, while another fled with injuries.
Anthology experts say reports of blood-sucking stem from economic hardships and inequalities, or the rich versus the poor.
The thinking is that the poor believe the rich are greedy and suck blood of poor people.