Minister for National Unity Hon Timothy Mtambo has pleaded with the courts to start meting out stiffer punishments on perpetrators of violence against the elderly in the country.
Mtambo made the plea in Mzimba where he graced a workshop organized by the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Public Trust.
The condemned mob justice targeting the elderly on the pretext that they are wizards and witches, describing the practice as a serious threat to the tenets of Malawi’s democracy and the achievement of the Malawi 2063 development agenda.
“The horrifying news, pictures and videos of the two elderly women recently accused of witchcraft in Mzimba challenges the entire nation to rethink our laws on mob violence and accusations of witchcraft. A nation that burries itself in unfounded beliefs, suspicions, perceptions and fears of the unknown fails to develop,” he said.
“What is more horrifying is that such mob violence and mob justice occurs right in the presence of our community leaders, the clergy, CSOs and close relatives of the accused. The Police cannot be in every village to protect the rights of the most vulnerable of our population, especially the elderly. It is the duty of all of us,” pleased Mtambo.
The minister emphasized that as a society, Malawians need to learn to keep changing and refining their beliefs and perceptions, especially those concerning the elderly and the situations that challenge their thinking in order to keep improving their way of living.
He said failure to explain mysterious sicknesses and deaths is a sign of lagging behind in medicine and health sciences as a nation on the one hand, and lack of respect for rights of every human being on the other.
“These mysterious deaths and sicknesses have sadly usually been blamed on either the elderly or the most vulnerable of our societies, or the rich whose wealth we fail to accommodate,” said Mtambo.
Meanwhile, Mtambo has called upon CSOs to champion robust civic education programming to re-educate the citizenry, and the review of the education curricula to remove what promotes wrong perceptions and beliefs against the elderly.