Friday, August 20, 2010

Witchcraft under the spotlight

There has been an unprecedented outcry from Civil Society Organisations in Malawi for government to enact an Anti-Witchcraft Act to help curb increased incidences of witchcraft and magic practices that have currently plagued the Southern African country.
The development follows increased incidences of suspected witches, some self-confessing, falling over people's houses and others confessing to have taught children the practice.
Malawi has also witnessed an increased number of people being convicted for confessing to the practice, with the latest case last year where a Magistrates' court in the Northern Malawi district of Mzuzu sentenced a man to five years imprisonment with hard labour, though the country's constitution does not recognise witchcraft, and only punishes those who confess for "pretending to practice witchcraft".
Civil Liberties Committee Executive Director, Emmie Chanika faulted government for the practice saying though CSOs fought for the inclusion of regislation tackling the practice, they were given a cold shoulder.
"We have tried our best but government keeps on frustrating us hence an increased number of the practice. People are dying, being victimised, especially children," said Chanika.
Owings Chawanda, Projects Officer for Journaliosts for Human Rights also agreed with the CSOs saying the practice had reached worrying levels.
Even Blantyre Police Public Relations Officer, Elizabeth Divala acknowledged that the police station has received over 20 cases of witchcraft but added that complainers are aften sent back to consult church leades because the issue is more less like a spiritual matter that could as well be tackled spiritually.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Henry Phoya said the best way for CSOs to tackle the issue was to go through the Malawi Law Commission on the Review of the Constitution.
Malwi has just finished reviewing her constitution almost a decade since the advent of democracy

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