The Malawi Network for Older Persons’ Organizations (MANEPO) has called the Malawi Police Service and other security agencies to arrest all those involved involved in harrasing elderly women in Mzimba on allegation that the women were practising witchcraft.
MANEPO executive director Andrew Kavala in a statement says there is need for this matter to be fully investigated and reach to its logical conclusion.
“We wish to condemn, in the strongest terms, the recent harassment of two older women in Mzimba district over witchcraft allegations.MANEPO wishes to remind all Malawians that it is very unbecoming for one, let alone older persons, to live under a cloud of suspicion. We passed the era when one could do what it pleases, without being restrained by the muscle of the law.” Says Kavala.
According to Kavala , it is imperative that everyone should use proper channels to address concerns, for one cannot concurrently play the roles of an accuser, prosecutor and judge.
“Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. More so, His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera recently signed the African Union Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa which calls for each African state to be responsible for developing and reviewing existing legislation to ensure older persons receive equal treatment and protection and ensure that law enforcement officers at all levels are trained to effectively interpret and enforce policies and legislation to protect the rights of older persons.”
Kavala says the Malawi’s Witchcraft Act of 1911 doesn’t recognise existence of witchcraft and states that it is an offence to accuse anyone of practising witchcraft. He says , the 2016 National Policy for Older Persons recognises the duty of the State to protect the rights of older persons in a country grappling with changes in traditional family values and the erosion of social support structures.
“MANEPO, therefore, calls upon the Malawi Police Service (MPS) in Mzimba district to immediately arrest and prosecute every person involved in this barbaric and heinous act. We hold it that escalation of abuse, discrimination and even killings of older persons can be explained by continued failure by law enforcement agencies to prosecute those who accuse older men and women of practising witchcraft. The uncoordinated responses at various levels of the justice administrative system and the absence of structured community support systems continue to make Malawi one of the worse countries for one to grow old in Africa.”
The statement is quoting Bishop Desmond who once said, “As we get older, our rights do not change. As we get older, we are not less human and should not become invisible. I want to tell the world that I count, that older men and women everywhere counts”
Kavala says , “This should inform the transformation we wish to see in older men and women’s lives in Malawi. It is a kind of change that is not beyond our reach. If we work together, we can make greater strides towards creating the world we want for older men and women in our country, a world that is free from want, free from
harm and one in which every older person has the necessary means to lead a
dignified, healthy and secure lives.”