Malawi News Agency
Police in Mchinji District have said the blood sucking myth making rounds in the district still remains an allegation, following its extensive investigation to determine if indeed anyone had ever fallen victim to such claims.
A press release made available Saturday, Mchinji Police Station public relations officer (PRO) Kondwani Kandiado said they are still investigating the issue and lamented cases of innocent people in the district being tortured and wounded on the pretext that they are blood sucking suspects.
“We would like to warn all residents in the district against fabricating malicious rumours about blood suckers as it was negatively affecting innocent individuals.
“We are requesting faith, traditional and political leaders to join hands in sensitizing communities on the need to stop engaging in acts of mob justice,” the press release reads in parts.
Police have since condemned all forms of mob justice in the strongest terms and that anyone involved in the malpractice will be arrested and prosecuted.
Malawi News Agency (MANA) has established that in Mchinji, at least, five people have been severely assaulted, two vehicles were smashed while one vehicle was set on fire. A shop was demolished and looted.
Police in the district have so far, arrested eight people for being involved in mob justice in relation to the malpractice.
Mchinji District Commissioner (DC), Bester Mandere commended the Police for the efforts in controlling issues of bloodsucking.
He described the development as a challenge in the provision of quality and effective services to the communities.
“There is no such a thing as blood sucking. These are just allegations because as a district we have never seen somebody being singled out with evidence by the community that indeed, this one suffered from blood sucking,” Mandere said.
Last month, Mchinji Police arrested four people for allegedly assaulting three health officials from Mchinji District Hospital on suspicion that they were blood suckers.
The three health officials were heavily assaulted on Monday, March 23, by an angry mob at Matutu Trading Centre in the district.
The three were collecting data on nutrition status for the district.
Four suspects were arrested and were charged with unlawful wounding and theft, of equipment that included a lap top which the police managed to recover.
Meanwhile, Central Region acting Commissioner of Police, Evalista Chisale was in Dedza on Thursday where the Police engaged communities on the issue of blood suckers and and also to sensitive the community on how they could prevent the spread of Coronavirus pandemic.
She advised the community not to take the law into their own hands, saying it was an offence to punish anyone suspected to have committed a crime.
“It is the communities’ responsibility to report to the Police about anyone they suspect to have committed any crime,” Chisale said, adding “the Police is one of the organizations mandated by law to commit all suspected offenders to court where the punishment can be given if the suspect is found guilty.”
The Northern Region Police also spoke strongly on this unfounded case of blood sucking, describing it as mere fear of the unknown (hysteria).
So far, five people suspected to have been blood suckers have been brutally killed through mob justice in the Northern Region alone.
Northern Region Police PRO, Peter Kalaya said whenever someone comes to complain to them that he or she has being sucked blood, they take them to the hospital to ascertain the complaint.
“I can disclose that no one has been medically proven to have had his or her blood sucked,” he said.
Kalaya said the region only received two official complaints with regard to these rumours, but after the two were taken to hospital, they were declared fit and that no blood was sucked from them.
“It is sad that the northern region alone has so far registered five people who have been killed on mere suspicions or for being a new face in an area.
“As police, we have tried to engage communities on these issues and whenever we asked them to trace the where-about of these alleged blood suckers, no one has ever come forthwith to give evidence,” the PRO said.
Kalaya expressed dismay over some thugs who are taking advantage of these blood suckers’ rumour by terrorizing residential and other areas at night disguising as neighhood-watch members.
“We are again investigating some incidences that have been happening with some thugs taking advantage of these rumours by committing numerous crimes in the name of dealing with the alleged blood suckers.
“We have arrested over 60 people accused to have been involved in committing different crimes through these blood suckers rumors,” he said.
Church and Society of the Livingstonia CCAP Synod has urged the Police to deploy more officers in all areas across the region where these blood suckers’ allegations are taking place to ensure people do not live in fear.
Adding voice to this unfortunate development, Traditional Authority (TA) Kachulu of Rumphi warned his chiefs against taking part in mob justice over suspected any bloodsuckers.
At a sensitization meeting with village heads in Phoka and Livingstonia on Thursday organized by Rumphi District Council following reports that some traditional leaders were behind formation of vigilant groups against alleged bloodsuckers, did not mince his words, saying the recent mob attacks had a blessing of some traditional leaders who further back the alleged perpetrators.
The vigilantes in recent weeks have been manning roadblocks, terrorizing innocent citizens through extortion and mob violence which has led to killing of three people in the district, suspected to be bloodsuckers.
“I am not going to back any criminal in my society and I will never entertain such manners to carry on like this for such can bring chaos and retard community development.
‘’I am going to make sure that every culprit is brought to book and the police do their work without any interference by any member of community till justice prevails,” Kachulu said.
He added that none of his group village heads approached him to discuss the issue, a development he said clearly shows that the chiefs were in support for those criminals that have been terrorizing innocent people.
Kachulu said traditional leaders need to be responsible and to ensure that the youth are guided and do the right things and warned that if the current trend persists, the district’s future was at risk as there would be no responsible leaders.
Village Development Committee chairperson for Livingstonia, Wilfred Mziba blamed social media for fueling lawlessness among youth in his area, saying if the problem need to be rooted out it needed multi sectoral approach.
“The issue of bloodsuckers and vampires in our area is a myth. We have had no evidence to that. The youth of our area are being misled by what they read on Whatsapp and Facebook, they just regard everything there as gospel truth.
Group Village Head, Kenston Katawa Msiska from Phoka observed that the community was astray and there was need for all the leaders to disseminate the message that blood suckers was just a hearsay and should end forthwith.
“I am one of the people who just heard about these bloodsucking issues a week ago and I did not expect such rumors to bring all these chaos and lawlessness.
“But now we have been assured by the police and the health experts that there was no evidence that has proven that these bloodsuckers exist as it was not physically and medically proven on the alleged victims,” Msiska said.
One of the individuals who was once suspected to be a bloodsucker, Petros Msiska, was attacked just because he had built a house and bought a car and was believed the source of income was through the vampire business.
“I would be the first to die over the allegations of vampires. An angry mob came at my shop in Chintchebe area where they broke six crates of soft drinks.
“They stoned my house and threatened to kill my wife and children. When I reported the matter to police I was assured of security but I am still living in fear for I do not know what will happen next,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, officer in charge for Chama Police in Zambia, Emmanuel Chabe has applauded Malawi government’s decision to conduct security patrols on Zambia-Malawi border amid bloodsuckers escalating reports.
Speaking in telephone interview on Tuesday, Chabe said the decision will defuse unnecessary tensions that arose in communities along Zambia-Malawi border.
“As a country we have thoroughly investigated about the rumors of bloodsuckers, and so far no one has been found and proved by the health experts to have been sucked blood,” Chabe lent his assessment.
Speaking during a full council meeting for M’mbelwa District Council, Superintendent Emmie Msowoya said the Police station will deploy officers to patrol the border.
“We have planned to conduct our patrols from Embangweni all the way to Mbalachanda in order to bring sanity and peace along the Zambia–Malawi border area,” Msowoya had said.
Mzimba Police has, therefore, strongly warned against uncivilized behavior and has reminded communities that anyone involved in mob justice will be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
Msowoya, however, registered her disappointment about the reports of physical harassments Zambians were receiving from their Malawian counterparts in light of blood sucking rumours.
Meanwhile, police have arrested about 27 suspects in a drive to crack down on perpetrators of crime and violence heightened by the rumours on blood suckers a myth that has seen nine people brutally murdered across the country.
The suspects have been arrested following intelligence driven police operations and rapid response mechanism established in order to avert the vice.
Last week different security agents from both Malawi and Zambia jointly conducted drills and awareness campaigns along the border in order to curb the malpractice.
The Joint Security wings from both countries ranged from the Police, Military, Prisons, Wildlife & Parks and Immigration.—Reported by Aaron Banda, Mercy Chirwa, Wisdom Ngwira, Shadreck Chaula, Joel Chirwa, Jeremiah Mphande, MANA