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Malawian villagers murder three people after 'witchcraft' allegations

File picture: Pexels

File picture: Pexels

Published Jun 3, 2020


Rustenburg – Three people, including a 56-year-old headman, were killed in the Dowa district of Malawi after being accused of witchcraft, local media reported.

The victims were identified as village chief Kachiwaya (Master Gogo Kachiwaya), Jenala Chidzele and Sintuma Siliya, according to Malawi24. 

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The corpses of Machiwaya and Chidzele had been recovered, while Siliya's body was still missing.

According to a Dowa police spokesperson, sub-inspector Gladson M’bumpha, the three were killed on Sunday in the villages of Kachiwaya and Kanyumbo, with the chief's death appearing to embolden villagers to murder Chidzele and Siliya. 

Last week, villagers accused Kachiwaya of bewitching his own nephew, who died a week earlier in a road accident. Kachiwaya's property was razed to the ground by the villagers, but he managed to escape, fleeing to Malawi's capital, Lilongwe. 

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On Sunday, the villagers mobilised and made their way to Lilongwe, where they found the headman and told him he was being taken to police. Instead, they returned him to the village and burnt him alive. 

Police arrested four suspects. On the same day, and upon hearing about the killing of the chief, villagers from Kanyumbo and nearby settlements started hunting for Chidzele and Siliya, whom they "suspected of being witches".  

When the group found Chidzele, they beat him to death and torched his corpse. Siliya was allegedly chased and beaten to death. Her body is yet to be found. Police arrested six suspects. 

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Malawian newspaper The Nation reported this week that a female "witchdoctor" in the Mzimba district was exorcising people accused of witchcraft, for a fee, and was also holding "witches" in "custody" who failed to pay their fees, or as part of the exorcism process. 

The woman reportedly charged anything from $271 (R4 583), depending on the seriousness of the exorcism needed. But the woman refuted this in a telephonic interview with The Nation, saying instead that those who used her services made donations based on their incomes, with amounts ranging between $67 and $ 271. 

African News Agency (ANA) 

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