MALAWI: WITCHCRAFT ACT REVIEW CONSULTATIONS TO END IN JULY

LILONGWE– The campaign to solicit views from stakeholders and the general public in Malawi on the review of the Witchcraft Act comes to an end in July, 2018, 10 years after being commissioned.

The review of the law which is governed by the Witchcraft Act Cap 7:02 of the laws of Malawi arose due to the increasing cases of witchcraft allegations and violent attacks on people accused of practicing witchcraft.

Deputy Chairperson of The Special Law Commission on The Review of the Witchcraft Act Clotilda Sawasawa said consultations will finally end in July, attributing the delay to the complexity of the issue of witchcraft.

This Special Law Commission has a heavy task before it as it is dealing with a matter that is not easy to resolve using conventional means. As you can appreciate, witchcraft deals with supernatural events that are often times beyond the comprehension of many people in the society.

It is therefore important that the Commission consults widely on the subject and this workshop is one such forum where the commission wishes to hear candid views on the issues isolated so far, she said, after opening a regional consultative workshop on the review of the witchcraft Act for the central part of Malawi.

Commissioner Sawasawa however pointed out that their job is only to gather nationwide recommendations.

As a Commission, we cannot say there will be any amendments or not. If any; they will come from the consultations we are making, she said.

The workshop intended to seek views from the general public through various stakeholders.

The stakeholders included lawyers, Traditional Authorities, traditional healers, government officials, the Academia and the clergy.

Topics under discussion were on Witchcraft, Is Satanism a form of witchcraft, witchcraft and the criminal justice system, vulnerable groups and victim management and the role of traditional leaders, healers and religious leaders in matters relating to witchcraft.

Similar meetings are also expected to take place in the Southern and Northern regions.

One of the participants Traditional Authority M’bwatalika from Lilongwe said witchcraft does exist but it becomes difficult to handle such type of cases.

Some of us stopped handling cases of witchcraft in our courts because the law does not recognize the existence of witchcraft.

But it is important to review this Act so that we may be able to be handling these cases because even though we stopped handling them; cases of witchcraft keep coming before us, she said.

In his remarks, George Thindwa, executive director of the Association of Circular Humanism in Malawi said there should be a clear difference between belief in witchcraft and the existence of witchcraft in order to come up with a better law.

What we want on our part is that there should be a serious distinction between witchcraft as a belief and the actual existence of witchcraft.

As a belief; witchcraft exists amongst a lot of Malawians but what is in contention is the actual existence of witches and wizards, who do not exist, said Thindwa.

Thindwa added saying murders of people with albinism are in a way connected to witchcraft, hence reviewing the witchcraft Act would also help address this problem.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK