STRANGE as it may seem, Zambia is still plagued with the nightmare situation of witchcraft being blamed for any and every unexplained happenings be it sudden death or wealth.
We continue to hear reports of family elders being brutally murdered on suspicion of them practicing witchcraft.
Who has cursed us?
In this regard, Siavonga parliamentarian Darius Mulunda has stated that there is urgent need for Government to act and stop the continued killing of elderly people suspected of practicing witchcraft as this act is not only criminal, un-Christian but un-Zambian.
He said society should change the mindset and start looking at elderly people as a blessing to the nation as opposed to the current situation where old people are harmed and mistreated.
Mr Mulunda said the elderly were the custodian of wisdom and that any nation that does not respect its aged citizens risks failing out of favour with God.
He said many old people especially in rural areas have lost their lives, with some abandoned by families on mere suspicion of being wizards.
The brutal killing of elderly people or parents by their own relatives or children on alleged witchcraft accusations which has become a trend, must be stopped immediately.
The continuous cruel murder of elderly men and women should be condemned in the strongest terms. No one deserve such kind of barbaric attacks and people should not live in fear of getting old or being labeled wizards then killed.
It is actually very difficult to imagine our society without elderly people.
Indeed, the plight of the senior citizens who are raped, robbed, abused or murdered in Zambia, must be the concern of every well-meaning human being. Their God-given human worth, place and status must be protected and preserved at all cost.
District Commissioner Ephraim Mwanjabantu says Government is concerned with the escalating cases of people being murdered on suspicion of practicing witchcraft.
He said Government was investigating the shooting cases and that those who will be found wanting will be arrested to face the full wrath of the law.
“We are investigating these night shooting cases and those found wanting will be arrested. There’s a way of resolving witchcraft cases than resorting to killing innocent people because that is murder,” he said.
Mr Mwanjabantu said it was sad that many innocent people have lost their lives to hired killers but that Government will not sit idle and watch the perpetrators go scot-free.
“So we are treating those shootings as murder. Once we get to the tail of the matter we will bring out the culprits and the law will follow its course,” he said.
Mr Mwanjabantu also said the government was engaging the traditional leadership in the area to try and stop the senseless killings.
Many traditional societies of the past considered family harmony to be an important factor governing family relationships, but it is heart breaking to note that this belief has slowly vanished.
The whole act is nonsensical because to start with, how can one accuse his or her parent of being a witch after raising him to become an adult that he has become? Why didn’t his parent kill or bewitch him when he was a baby if he or she is a wizard?
The denial of right to life of older men and women should weigh heavily in our collective conscious, whether we are leaders in communities, faith, politics or in institutions entrusted with keeping law and order, including those in the media.
We should question what in our values, belief systems and principles is going wrong to an extent we subject our parents and grandparents to such a brutal killing? Just what kind of people have we become as generation!
Instead of protecting our parents, we kill them. Shame.
We, therefore, call on those duty bound to immediately halt the killing by taking appropriate action against those that are masterminding such crime and provide protection to senior citizens. Growing old should not be equated to a curse, insecurity and the denial of the right to life which is both a basic human and constitutional right.
We believe that the main reason for existence of this kind of killings is lack of awareness and superstitious beliefs by the people-more especially those in rural areas.
It is a question of educating the people because in other areas of the country like urban where people are better educated, we don’t experience these kind of killings.