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STOP WITCHCRAFT KILLINGS

WITCHCRAFT and witch-hunting have continued to be practiced widely almost all over the world.

In Zambia and the rest of Africa those accused of being witches or wizards, especially the elderly, often face execution even when they could be totally blameless.

A variety of accusations are levelled against suspected witches and wizards, such as causing impotence with common ones being causing diseases and deaths. And the iniquity lives on.

Today, we have a story of a 95-year-old man of Isoka District who has been shot dead in cold blood by unknown people for allegedly practicing witchcraft.

Muchinga Province Commissioner of Police Joel Njase identified the victim as Jason Mutambo, of Kampumbu Village in Chief Katyetye’s area who was not even given chance to prove his innocence.

“We received a call from Senior Headman Kampumbu to the effect that one male, Jason Mutambo, aged 95, of Kampumbu Village, Chief Kafwimbi, District Isoka, has been  murdered by unknown person(s),” Mr Njase said.

He said officers from Isoka police station and a medical doctor from Isoka District Hospital rushed to the scene of crime at Senye Village, Chief Katyetye, District Isoka, at 08:44 hours.

“The findings are that two months ago Mr Mutambo was living at Muzatemwa Village, Chief Kafwimbi, District Isoka, where he was accused to be a wizard and his house was burnt to ashes,” Mr Njase said.

He said the victim was forced to relocate to his son James Mutambo’s farm after being accused of practicing witchcraft.

“The officers further learnt that on Tuesday between 23:00 hours and 00:00 hours, female Anna Namwandila, the daughter-in-law of the deceased who leaves approximately eight metres away from his house, heard a sound of a gun while asleep,

“Postmortem examination was conducted at the scene of crime and the doctor’s findings are that the deceased was shot on the left side of his chest by home-made muzzle loader gun and that six bullets were removed from the victim’s body,” Mr Njase said

Nonetheless we will never know why old people are often targeted in rural Zambia to be practicing witchcraft and the attacks, usually by close relations or the assassins they hire, are often brutal.

Regrettably, beliefs in witchcraft remain innate in all rural areas of modern day Zambia.

Sadly, too, even rational, literate people do believe in witchcraft especially when events cannot be explicated or when people go pear-shaped to explain the course of events or when people fail to establish causes of intricate issues like regular misfortunes, failure to succeed in life etc.

Victims of witchcraft accusations are always faced with dreadful experiences in the communities and of late they have become a common occurrence in Zambia, raising concerns for police to be more vigilant.

We also think that the issue of witchcraft and counter killing of suspected witches and wizards is associated with high levels of illiteracy.

People, especially traditional healers, need to be educated on the law regarding witchcraft to avoid the myths of various events including ‘unusual’ deaths or suspected spells.

The challenge, we think is for the police, social workers, judiciary and local politicians to work together to find common grounds to stop these choleric  and pointless killings of innocent people, purely because of their old ages.

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