Hunt vampire hunter with the law!

Hon Folks, the bloodsuckers scare has spread like wild fire. It started in Lhomwe belt—Mulanje, Thyolo, Phalombe, Chiradzulu—and Nsanje. Last week it hit Blantyre.

From nowhere vigilantes, armed with machetes, sticks, stones, etc., ganged up in hostile formations that conducted illegal patrols in the name of searching for blood-sucking vampires.

At Chatha, along the road to Chileka International Airport the vigilantes stormed and ransacked a police unit when the police on duty reportedly abandoned their office and ran for their dear lives.

They, however, left in custody a person. The vigilantes, in exercise of power low-lives wield when the rule of law pave way for the jungle rule, took and burned him to death in the name of exorcising Blantyre City of blood-sucking vampires.

About eight other human beings had already been butchered in other trouble spots of the Southern Region. Some unlucky chiefs were assaulted or had their houses set ablaze or razed to the ground after being falsely accused of harbouring the vampires.

It’s amazing that all this disruption of normal life has occurred yet there is not even a single verified case of a person whose blood was sucked.  Earlier in the week, doctors told the press no hospital has seen a case of low blood levels due to inexplicable reasons to support the blood-sucking rumours.

Testimonies given when APM visited a trouble-spot in Mulanje a couple of weeks ago only served to show that the fear of blood-sucking vampires is steeped in superstition.

Claims were made that the vampires are elusive and when cornered, they turn into wild beasts and disappear into the night. One woman took the bizarre to another level, telling the President there was a day she had to go into the night completely naked because that’s the way to chase and catch the vampires.  Ironically, her chase was to no avail.

Some of the villagers who came out to brief the President indicated witchcraft is used by the blood-sucking vampires. Surprisingly, the so-called vampire hunters, probably with the exception of Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa, do not target witches or wizards.

Instead, they murder people they meet walking on the road. They smashed vehicles, including ambulances. They have even roughed up tourists and intimidated rural charity workers. In Blantyre, they have roused so much fear that some organisations are closing shop at 5pm to allow staff to go home before the vigilantes take to the streets under cover of darkness.

Some international and local charity organisations recalled their staff from the trouble spots in the rural.  There are also unconfirmed reports that the brutality of the vigilantes has scared away tourists to the spectacular Mulanje Mountain.

Initially, government treated the lawlessness with kid glove. Some ministers shamelessly politicised the saga, blaming it on MCP. For a while, the political leadership did not come out to condemn the perpetrators for breaking the law. It’s only when the madness spread to Blantyre, government acted decisively by deploying both the Army and the Police.

Somehow, the narrative on the blood-sucking saga does not inspire confidence. People tend to be overly apologetic, relating what is happening now to the incidents that occurred in the 70s and subsequent decades and conclude that what is happening now follows a cyclic pattern of how the poor and marginalised vent their anger as the gap between them and the rich keep widening.

There could be some merit in that thinking but the question remains:  is it normal? Should it be tolerate?

Our Vision 2020 envisaged a Malawi of milk and honey in which God-fearing and law abiding citizens would be enjoying the trappings of a middle income economy. The year 2020 is only three years away but realising our vision may take another 20 years or more. There is no denying the need to reduce poverty.

But having the vigilantes destroying what we already have and disrupting the wealth-generating process is counter-productive. It can only take our beautiful country further into the abyss. They must be dealt with decisively. It’s time those arrested started answering for their crimes!

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