Group pays fines to free 'witches'

2011-01-12 09:08
Blantyre - A Malawian rights group said on Tuesday it had paid fines to secure the release of three elderly women sent to prison after being accused of witchcraft.

"We paid fines of $33 for each of the convicts. We are very very happy although the fight is on to seek the release of 50 others," George Thindwa, executive director of the Association of Secular Humanism (ASH), told AFP.

The three, aged 80, 72 and 62, were convicted a month ago by a court in Salima district, some 100km from the administrative capital Lilongwe, after having been accused of witchcraft by their neighbours.

They were sentenced to one year in prison because they could not pay the $33 fine, a large sum in a country where half of the population of 13 million lives on less than a dollar a day.

The case highlighted concerns over rights violations in Malawi based on allegations of witchcraft. Belief in witchcraft and traditional medicine runs deep in this former British colony, largely dominated by Christians.

Witchcraft is not technically illegal in Malawi but Thindwa's group has accused police and prosecutors of charging suspected "witches" under laws against causing breaches of the peace.

"Sentences passed to alleged witches have also been harsh and not in accordance with the stipulated sentences," he said.

The three elderly "witches" were sent to a notorious prison in Lilongwe where Thindwa said "they were suffering because of being poor and old".

"We appealed to our members and friends who solicited the funds" to pay the fines, said Thindwa, whose group last year launched a campaign against rights abuses based on witchcraft accusations.

The government last year set up a legal committee to change the law to criminalise witchcraft following public pressure.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    malawi  |  southern africa publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Habana to extend Test career?
Moody backs under-fire Lancaster
Folau a doubt for Wales clash
England merchandise 'reduced to clear'
Traffic Alerts

Are you burning the candle at both ends? Listen to your body and your emotional reactions. Know when to slow down or stop. It is more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.