About 140 people have been arrested by the police in connection with the bloodsuckers phenomenon that has sent shivers down the spine of residents of Mulanje, Phalombe, Chiradzulu, Nsanje, Blantyre and Thyolo districts.
The blood sucking saga started last month in Mulanje where irate people have been taking the law in their hands to kill suspected blood suckers.
So far nine people have been killed in Mulanje, Phalombe, Thyolo, Nsanje, Chiradzulu and Blantyre according to police.
Speaking on Friday during a press conference in Lilongwe aimed at sensitising the media on the developments surrounding the issue, Inspector General of Police Lexten Kachama disclosed that the police are making progress to get to the bottom of the matter.
Said Kachama: “Since the issue of bloodsuckers started eight people have lost their lives. This number is huge and as police we are working day and night to get to the bottom of this. Our investigations have shown that all the eight people killed were innocent and we want to warn all those taking the law in their hands that they will be taken to task.”
According to the IG, they have apprehended 120 people for taking the law in their hands and spreading fake news to scare people in some areas.
Kachama also disclosed that all those that have been arrested will soon be taken to court to answer various charges.
“In Phalombe we have arrested two men who were sending SMS to people at night that they are bloodsuckers. We are happy with the support we are getting from the public as well as government. The President has instituted a committee involving the ministries of Health, Civic Education, Local Government, Home Affairs as well as the police and the army,” said Kachama.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa also pleaded with the media to take a leading role in sensitising Malawians that there is no concrete evidence that blood suckers exist.
In his response to a question by Human Rights Consultative Committee chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba on what the police are doing to protect themselves from mobs, Kachama said they will continue working with the public, but will never shoot to kill because it is not the job of the police.
Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia on Friday said government is surprised with the escalation of the blood sucking ‘myth’ and announced the establishment of a special committee to investigate the origin of the rumours.
Indigenous Businesspersons Association of Malawi (Ibam) president Mike Mlombwa in a telephone interview On Friday said the business community is concerned as businesses are being forced to close early as a security measure.
“People who patronise our business are also staying indoors after 5pm because they are afraid of what is happening. We cannot transport goods at night for fear of being suspected of being or transporting bloodsuckers.”
Mlombwa called for a multi-sectoral approach to end the killings.
President Peter Mutharika has for the past two weeks been visiting areas that have experienced the vampires.
—Reporting by Christopher Jimu, Precious Kumbani and Rex Chikoko.