Stop killing innocent people

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WE ARE shocked that there are people who are still so superstitious and primitive that they can hire assassins to murder a neighbor or relative on suspicion that he or she is practicing witchcraft.

It unacceptable in this time and era for people to believe someone has been bewitching them without evidence and start planning how to kill that person. This ghastly practice has been rearing its head every now and then in the Gwembe Valley in Southern Province.

Many innocent lives have been lost at the hands of hired guns called karavinas in Siavonga, Chirundu, Maamba and Sinazongwe districts, and the carnage continues.

In the latest hit a 54-year-old man of Siavonga district in Southern Province who was shot by unknown hired assailants on suspicion of being a wizard has died from his injuries at the University teaching Hospitals in Lusaka.

The man has been identified as Simon Mutena.

No one had caught Mr Mutena practicing witchcraft and none of the neighbours who are believed to have hired his killers had even confronted him and presented any evidence proving that he was a wizard.

The murderers must be found. We urge anyone with information on the killers and their sponsors to secretly give it to the police so that the law can take its course.

Police need such information to put a stop to this impunity.

A close family friend, Lubinda Mubiana, said Mr Mutena was first admitted to Siavonga District Hospital before being transferred to UTH for emergency treatment.

The victim of Bbendele Village on the Siavonga-Chirundu road was shot in the early hours of Tuesday before being taken to hospital by the police who rushed to the area.

No one deserves to die such a cruel death. The heartless assassins sneaked into the house where the victim was fast asleep and shot him in his sleep. He did not have a chance to defend himself.

Mr Mutena, who had been suspected to be one of the wizards terrorising other villagers in the area, was shot in the abdomen while he was fast asleep.

But, as we have said, no one had ever presented any evidence that he was indeed a wizard. No one had named the people he had killed or caused to be ill through black arts yet people had the audacity to hire a killer to take his life.

The right to life is the most sacred of all human rights under the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration on Human Rights. It has been domesticated through our republican Constitution.

We appeal to the police to work with the local communities to sensitise people on the need to respect the human rights of others.

The members of the communities must be educated on the danger of taking the law in their own hands. What those who hired the killers must know is that they are accomplices in the crime and will face the same criminal charge as the thugs they hired to do the dirty job for them.

Health authorities and the police command in Siavonga confirmed the shooting and subsequent death of Mr Mutena.

Acting Siavonga district medical director Kabukabu Akamana said the victim, who had been brought to hospital in a critical condition with a gun wound in the abdomen, was treated for emergency before being transferred to UTH for further management.

Siavonga police officer-in-charge Cosmas Mutale says officers did not find the assailants as they had already left the area.

He said investigations into the murder had started and that a manhunt for the people behind the shooting launched.

Mr Mutale warned villagers against taking the law into their own hands.

The police in the area would not rest until the perpetrators of the shooting were brought to book to deter others.

But the warning should not only be made through press statements. The police should work with traditional leaders such as headmen and leaders of political parties with grassroots structures to directly talk to the people in their villages.

That is when the warnings will carry the expected impact.

It traumatising to the close relatives of Mr Mutena and other victims of such assassinations.

The victim’s niece only identified as Bina Frank narrated to the SUN how they heard Mr Mutena screaming in agony from his house after some gun shots.

Ms Frank said she later discovered that her uncle had been shot before alerting village vigilantes who informed the police in Siavonga.

She said the family suspected the assailants had been hired by some neighbours who had for a long time been accusing his uncle of practicing witchcraft.

Those neighbours should be questioned. Their behavior should be closely monitored. If some of them start showing signs of being nervous and jittery they could know something about the killing.

Such killings are common in the Gwembe Valley.

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