By Peter Kanjere, ESCOM PRO
Nkhunga First Grade Magistrate Court in Nkhotakota District sentenced on Monday seven people to three years imprisonment with hard labour for assaulting Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) employees on suspicion that they were blood suckers.
The court convicted are John Manda, aged 37, Ellia Chirwa, 35, Patrick Manda, 38, Letison Chirwa, 32, Fandison Chirwa, 29, Ishmael Phiri, 25, Zione Manda, 23, and Leonard Kamanga, 22 — all from Paulosi Village, Traditional Authority Kafuzila in the district.
They were charged of proposing violence, acts intended to cause grievous harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, which contravene sections 87, 235 and 254 of the Penal Code. However, Zione Manda received a suspended sentence.
Nkhunga Police Station spokesperson, Ignatius Esau, said First Grade Magistrate, Kingsley Buleya passed the sentence to deter such attacks, which have claimed many lives in Malawi.
Court records indicated that the accused persons pleaded innocence to the charges, prompting the State to parade six witnesses who proved the case beyond reasonable doubt.
In mitigation, the convicts asked for mercy, claiming they were orphans and bread winners.
State prosecutor, Davie Kusamale said the police were concerned that innocent lives are being lost due to blood sucking myths.
Court records indicate that the eight persons mobilised themselves to attack the ESCOM employees on the night of 1st May, 2020, after they had gone to Kasitu to fix a faulty power-line.
In a statement dated May 5, 2020, ESCOM Public Relations Manager, Innocent Chitosi said it was unfortunate that the community vigilante group attacked the company’s employees despite “producing their identity cards, wearing branded work suits and using vehicles which had ESCOM colours.”
In 2017, Society of Medical Doctors (Malawi) attributed such attacks to Shared Delusion Disorder, which happens when a dominant individual, who is deluded, can have those following him believe and internalise his delusions.