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THE MENACE OF WITCH HUNTERS IN ZAMBIA

IN Zambia today witch hunting or witch purge has continued to be a pervasive problem resulting in senseless loss of human life.
The scale of these operations, it seems, has only worsened with thousands of people falling victim to accusations of sorcery and being sent to their early graves.


Yet we all know that a witch-hunt often only involves moral panic or mass hysteria resulting in killing perhaps of innocent people who are not give chance to prove their innocence.


Contemporary witch-hunts have become the order of the day even in the modern Zambia and the aged, with matching grey hair are prime targets of gross suspicions of practicing witchcraft.


In Western Province of Zambia such killings are carried out by hired assassins commonly known as Karavinas suspected to be coming from neighbouring Angola who are paid generously after effecting their assignments successfully.


Sometimes some Zambians like settle disputes by accusing someone of witchcraft, a finger pointing can be all that is needed to remove a potential rival from a situation, and it happens far more often than seems logical.


We therefore totally go along with Siavonga district commissioner Lovemore Kanyama who has condemned the continued shooting to death of people suspected of practicing witchcraft in his district, describing the action retrogressive and wicked.


Just why people should continue to pursue this ancient old practice which is truly taking development efforts backwards is simply bewildering.
Mr Kanyama who was reacting to the recent shooting of Mr Steward Muzulu, 40, of Kole village in Chief Sinadambwe chiefdom on May 4 by unknown hired assassins on suspicion that he was practicing witchcraft is right to condemn this barbaric practice which often times is targeting at only old people when in fact young people too could also be strong wizards and witches.


Siavonga state police should indeed probe this shooting and individuals being hired to shoot down individuals suspected of practicing witchcraft brought to book for fairness and justice.
He has rightly warned the culprits to immediately stop the practice as police will not spare them. They are misfits of the society.


Mr Kanyama warns that the law of the land will soon visit those that will be found wanting, further assuring that their days as free men could indeed be numbered.
“I strongly urge individuals suspected or rather targeted for elimination to report the cases to the police for immediate action,
“The practice has to be brought under control as elderly people, mostly those with grey hair are living in fear as they are mostly targeted to be eliminated as they are the first ones to be suspected of practicing witchcraft,” he says.


We back Mr Kanyama on the call to the community to help the police in bringing to book the people behind such inhumane acts.
We also think that time is now for our government to come about with sanctuaries for the victims/prisoners of witch hunts because the whole practice does not make any nous at all.


Belief in witchcraft, primitive as it may appear, has been shown to have resemblances in many societies throughout the world, Zambia included.
Often times the occurrence of otherwise accidental calamities such as sickness or death, it is always a suspected sorcerer who provides an image of evil.


So government and the Church should work hand in hand to fight this blight which is not only threatening peace but holding back the badly needed economic development.

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