Arresting Aniva is not a good idea, Mr President

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I know there is that pressure when the whole world is laughing at you. I have received calls and Facebook messages from as far afield as the United States and Japan, from acquaintances I last spoke to ten years ago. “Hi, how are you?” they say. When you answer, the next question is: “Tell us about this hyena thing in your country.”

Eric Aniva Malawi HIV positive man given K2000 to sleep with children

Eric Aniva: hired to sleep with adolescent girls

If a nobody like me is being asked questions like these, what about our president? No wonder he was driven to take action without carefully weighing the matter. Earlier this week, President Peter Mutharika ordered the arrest of Eric Aniva, the man from Nsanje district who is hired to sleep with adolescent girls and widows as required by his culture.

The arrest has been widely applauded as a great move. The country, especially some of the educated elite, argue that what Aniva did was wrong and he must be punished.

And yet the matter is not as simple as it looks. Arresting Aniva is like treating the symptoms rather than the disease.

Aniva did not go looking for widows and adolescents to sleep with. They hired him; ‘they’ meaning custodians of culture in his community. They even paid him to do it.

Arresting Aniva will not stop the ‘hyena’ culture. Remember that Nigerian proverb in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart? “The Eneke the bird says that since men have learnt to shoot without missing, he has learnt to fly without perching.” Custodians of the culture will continue to secretly hire ‘hyenas’ and make them vow never to talk to BBC reporters.

Deal with the culture. Aniva just happens to be a small actor in the scheme of things, and his arrest is of no consequence.

Arrest custodians of the culture. Arrest the parents who accepted that Aniva should sleep with their children. Arrest whole villages, if not the entire tribe. Which, in a way, means arrest no one.

What needs to be done is to outlaw that culture, then embark on a civic education campaign telling girls and women that if anybody compels them to sleep with a ‘hyena’, they should report to the nearest police.

If a law says the ‘hyena’ culture is banned, everyone will begin to understand that it is an illegal thing to do.

Short of that, Aniva is a scapegoat. He is being taken advantage of because he is a poor man who cannot even afford to hire a lawyer. He said things to a reporter that self-incriminate, and it is against the principles of natural justice to self-incriminate.

The arrest itself is also wrong on the procedural front. Aniva was arrested first and the police had to shop around for charges later. As late as Friday morning this week, they were still looking for someone to lodge a complaint against Aniva.

A statement from the President’s spokesperson, Mgeme Kalilani, says:  “The Malawi leader and Commander-in-Chief of the Malawi Police Service, the President has directed the Police to immediately arrest Mr. Eric Aniva, investigate him and take him to court forthwith for the defilement cases which he apparently confesses to.”

What is supposed to start first, arrest or investigation? Why is Mr Aniva being treated as guilty before any investigation whatsoever?

Eminent lawyer, Professor Edge Kanyongolo, has also argued that the President has no powers to order the arrest of anyone.  Quoting chapter 15 of the constitution, especially section 161, Kanyongolo says that the Malawi Police Service must be independent of the Executive.

Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it, even if it is the president of a republic. A decision is not right because it is popular.

An angle that is complicating Aniva’s story is that he admits being HIV-positive, and that it is possible he spread the disease in the course of his work.

But that needs to be treated separately. Somebody needs to come forward and complain that she was deliberately infected by him. If there is no complainant, Mr Aniva should be released.

We should not be hysterical in dealing with this issue. We must not do things so that the world should praise us. We must do what is right. Aniva must not be taken advantage of because he is a poor man from Malawi’s rural areas.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t support the ‘hyena’ culture. It is a bad culture and must be ended right now. Some organizations have been trying to fight such harmful cultural practices. As far back as 2009, for example, Action Aid funded a project known as Social Empowerment on Rights for Vulnerable and Excluded Women which fought not only the ‘hyena’ culture, but also similar harmful practices across the country.

We must not, therefore, look at the ‘hyena’ culture in isolation. In Chitipa district, for instance, there is kupimbira, a cultural practice in which parents arrange marriages between girls as young as 13 years and older men just so they can get money from a dowry.

Other traditional practices believed to violate the rights of women include ‘nhlazi’, giving into marriage a young relative of the wife, as a reward to her husband for being good to her family; ‘kulowa kufa’, sexual intercouse between a newly widowed woman and a designated man to ‘cleanse the village of death’, and ‘fisi’, hiring a man to engage in sex for the purpose of having children, especially when the husband is impotent.

We must deal with all of these holistically.

And that will not be achieved through the arrest of Eric Aniva.

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73 Comments

  1. I don’t like APM but arresting Aniva is the way forward. He knew his status but he went ahead infecting young girls and widows.

    Aniva isn’t arrested on cultural practices but his status.

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  3. Amangidwe basi coz umeneu ndi ufiti. ngati wa gona ndi atsikana 150 ndekuti wapasaso matenda anthu 150. Nanga atsikanawo agona ndi amuna angati? muziwe kuti wapha mitundu ya anthu ambiri.

  4. This z stupit imagen if it z ur child its something painful to have in infected child I feel sory 4 the parents n the children as 4 ths man called hyena I say he must stay in person 4 the rest of his lyf a killer indeed

  5. mmmmm nkhani yovuta zedi ikufunika mzeru za Solomo pano!
    Fisi wodwala
    mudzi simukhala #fisi amfumu Osaziwa a #T/A
    komaso Makolo osaziwa,
    now!Mukamanga fisi yekha mulakwa zedi iye samapanga yekha asanapezedwe ndimakolo ,komanso mwini banja
    pomulemba munthu ntchito umfusa CV munthu anapatsidwa ntchito koma udindo wopeza munthu umankhala mmanja mwa omelemba
    ndiye pomanga munthu ameneyi pakhale chilungamo chifukwa chikhalidwe sicholetsedwa mudziko lino lamalawi koma chifukwa cha zovuta monga matenda zikhalidwe zikodzedwetso osati kunga munthu nthawi zambiri #afisi mitu yawo simayenda bwino amankhala anthu ozelezeka pang omo ndichifukwa chake akutha kunena zonse akuzimva ngati opambana chifukwa Amfumu makolo anamusankha iye pafupi fupi ntundu ntundu uliwonse mmalawi muno ulindi mwambo wosayenera nthawi ino
    oro a #whitemen ambiri agonapo ndi ana awo ,
    a #india nso amagona ndi ana awo asanalowe mbanja anawo saziwa amaona ngati agona ndimuthu wina amawamanga kumaso anawo!
    now mukhoza kuona kuti ntundu uliwonse uli

  6. Despite the number of girls the dude in question might have infected,he didn’t rape or force himself on them but he was legitemate regarding that cultural practice.If we can put this matter into contexual Eric,is innocent but it’s this barbaric cultural practice(whatever it’s called) which is spreading this pandemic disease through him. I wonder what was debilitating the people before to realize that this kind of cultural practice is spreading the disease,coz it has been practised for ages and yet it’s still.
    But guess what,without Eric,coming out to the public & talk about such kind of barbaric cultural practices,no one would know today that it’s one the factor that contributes to the spread of Hiv/AIDS.BUT with the prevalence of this hiv & aids, how could a parent with an upright mind offer his/her daughter to be banged by someone whom you don’t know his status?free ERIC,ban that cultural practice & sensitise community with civic education about the spread of Hiv & AIDS.

  7. Hooligans with guns in their hands once they enter in either in a bus or train full of passengers,they say give us your money,phones or everything valuable u have.If they see no one pays attention,they shoot one of them passengers and every passenger gets scared and starts to give any valuable things to them gangsters to save life.Arresting this man will help to frighten some citizens not to carry on with this vice ritual behaviour.This man knows his is HIV positive and it’s like he infects those women and adolescent girls deliberately.He has an intention of infecting those innocent ladies.As a man he would think of what side effects would result in what he does.

  8. everyone whom is capable of trasffer deases must be arrested. just imagen if its ur daughter or some1 u love and that fisi did that her.

  9. Kodi patapezeka ntchito yogwilira munthu wolemera mwa umfiti kuti ndizitema anthu masana panjira ndi chikwanje ndipo ndiziyika magazi m’botolo la 2 litre everyday ndipo ndizilandila ndalama zabwino Pamenepa sangandimange Popeza ndi ntchito ndayipeza chabe ndipo pakufunika kundisiya amange wandilemba ntchito? Will my conscience and humanity not be considered for accepting 2 do the evil act?

  10. There’s nothing wrong arresting this animal, it deserves kukasungidwa ku Zoo basi. Even hyenas hv rights to be kept safe, mwatsala afisi enanu munjatijwaso akakusungeni ku Game reserve

  11. Kodi munthuyu zomwe amapanga zinali za nseli kapena anthu amachita kumuitana?Ndikumva kuti ndi mwambo wa ku lower Shire nanga omwe amamuitanawo muwapanga chiyani?ngati kuli kumanga mangani onse ndi mafumu omwe zikuoneka kuti pa mwambowawowo amachita kusankha kuti FISI Ndi uyu ndichifukwa amaitanidwa palinso madela ena amati kulowa kufa amachitanso ugalu omwewo nawonso muwamange apo ayi manwo atuluke komanso iyeyo matendawo anatenga komwe amamuitanako.miyambo ya makolo ndiyofunika kwambiri koma yopusa ngati iyi pofunika itheletu

  12. Its quiet strange. This hyena thing was there and the president knew about it. If u can remember Cos Chiwalo’s song” inu mungoyenda ngati afisi akuNtcheu”. That show the culture was there longtime ago. Why acting now? Is Ivan the only Fisi? Now because we are a laughing stock to the world. As a matter of fact this man confessed not investgated. If he hadn’t confessed which means it would keep going around. Arresting pple is not an answer. But we need to sit and revise our cultures. What about homosexual? Its not our culture,even christians and islamic dont accept it, but because its a pipeline of money from western culture. Then they force us to accept it because it comes with package terms and condition. Mumasuleni Irvin and arrest the pple who introduced it. Nanga mafumu are they involved to look in this matter? Politics and traditional are two different things.

    • You don’t know what you r saying..There z no n was no such behaviors in Ntcheu..and Cos chiwalo was referring to wild animals not a human beings who spoils the future of our toddlers…Taiveraninso nyimboyo and ufufuzeso Za afisi akumangoni…

    • What are u defending here.*that they is no fisi in yo home. Ok it fine suit yoself. But this thing is only exists in southern region yes/no? The point here is why the goverment acting now and pretend that they were not aware of this culture.

  13. Shem mtalika wrong number, uhambe wrong .professor dosent mean presidency if your upstairs is not ayoba bring it on to hell with leaders our country I respected kamuzu only .these so called hynas never.to hell wot them.

  14. Aniva wayenera kumangdwa basi..he was BRAGGING about sleeping with 11yr old kids despite knowing his HIV status..zilibe ntchito kaya ma hyena alipo ma thousands kaya lamulo kulibe iyei akhale oyambirira basi….ndye mwat friends from USA? I love the way you lie!

  15. No matter wht am stil supporting APM words coz pple wit HIV/AIDs hve responsibilities 2 protect othrs frm get the virus #In short they r advised 2 do so towards combating the globe impact of this epidemic

  16. U r absolutely true, cause if dat culture z not gud den lesson should be provided to dat community, so dat they can’t practice more. Instead of arresting him due to the pressure while there are others still practice within that community.
    Let us, African change.

  17. Nazo mfumu zomwe zimafunda mablangete nthawi ya maliro zimangidwe pamodzi ndi azimayi omwe amasankha mblangetewo chifukwa ndekuti mfumuzi sizimakhala pachisoni koma kusangalala kuti lero ndifunda blangete kapena duvet

  18. ngati simuzitenga bwino munthu ameneyu akhoza kukusokonezelani ma proglam ambili,panopa anthu,maiko komanso mabungwe maso ali kwa inu aone kuti mathana nazo bwanji.mukamutulusa ena adana nazo,mukamupatsa chilango enanso adana nazo molinga ndi nkhani mmene ilili.

  19. that’s my Malawi this that all goes to her my Malawi but y always you? Is it bcoz u born poor? Does it mean you are still under them? My ❤ly mother learn to stand on your own i beg.

  20. Ndinayankhapo kale pa nkhani imeneyi wa nzeru anapanga like nanga tsopano mukuti bwanji anzanga munthu ngati walandila ndalama pa ntchito imene wagwila sizingatheke kupezeka olakwa olakwa ndi amene akupatsa ntchitoyo basi kopanda iwo iye sanakana gwila ntchito imeneyo

    • Enafe tinanenapo mofanana ndiwe Mabvuto, munthuyu amamupatsa takonza pamenepo and at the end being paid ndalama. Komanso ife tadaphunzirapo mwambo wa achewa buku la Dambuzo ndi mwana wake wina Nanthola, zimenezi zinalimomwemo mpaka mapazi anjiwa kukongoletse namwali. Ndipo ntchitoyi yinali yanamukungwi amene nayonse sangapange zinthu payekha koma Afumu ndi Nduna zawo amaziwa mmene zikuyendera mumudzimo za anamwaliwa.Tsopano matendawa adadziwika Che Kamuzu ali pampando ndipo kuchenjeza kunalipo nthawiyo pawailesi sewero la tinkanena, kenako ana Che Manganya kubungwe lao, mipingo, muzi sukulu , mpaka ma television Che Tate Mulizi kuyitsegula MBC. Tonse tinatseguka kumaso kuti kwaipa ndipo aliyense padziko lino lapansi m’bale kapena abale adamwalira ndi kachiromboka. Tithokoze anzathu odala pozipereka napezako ARV pano tili nawo abale ndipo ofunikiranso zedi pakati pathu.Chikudandaulitsa ndichakuti kodi akulu akulu onse tili mumidzimu kuti na nthawi zino Hyena adzikakukuta mafupa omwe ndithu ndizoona? Komanso Makolofe ndithu kuperekeza mwana pita ukadibwe ndi fisi, this is very very bad inde uyo amangidwe koma Otsogolera amumudzimo nawo ayankhepo kanthu ndicholinga choti this should be a lesson kumadera enawo. Fisi ali pa grade one mulandu , Mafumu ndi anamukungwi naonso ayankhe chifukwa zonsezi tikawerenga kukula ndi mwambo fisi amakhala womalizira padongosolo la mwambowu if I am not mistaken. Tili ndivuto lozengereza pazinthu zoipa na ineyo blame ndife tomwe tiope Mulungu zambiri zimachitika ndife tomwe ndipo pakati pathu, therefore timakhala tikudziwa bwino lomwe kuti uyu akuchita izi koma osa uzana kuti tizi thetsa mwachangu zochitika zoipazi mumadera monse. MPs amapita ku nyumba yamalamulo chikhalirecho ndikumachokera kumene Fisi wagwidwayu koma osapereka dandaulo kwa anzawo to solve the problem until very late the President now is involved kukhuzidwa ndi nkhani. Tikumanena ma MPs chonde yenderani madera anu onse ndipo study mavuto ali pakati pa anthu akwanu, and ineyo I believe kuti mudziko zinthu monga izi, 1. Moyo,2.Chakudya, 3.Chipatala, 4, Sukulu, 5, Chitukuko. Zinthu izi ngati boma ndikati boma i mean tonse muja Kamuzu anati phunzitsira titati tagwirana manja ngati munthu mmodzi zoipa zambiri mdzikomuno zikhoza kutha. Koma we are not united tili pa individual race and this is not good.

    • choyambilila udziwekuti zomwe wapanga mkuluyu ndi tchimo pamaso pa Mulungu komanso anawa amagonedwa posazindikila komwe kuli kuphwanya malamulo a dziko lino .munthu atakutuma kuti ukaphe munthu iwe ndikuphadi milandu imakhala yosiyana iwe wphawe uyankha mlandu opha munthu pomwe okutuma ayankha mlandu okonza chiwembu chopha munthu. Tiyeni tikonde ndikuteteza ana .

  21. 6 July Independence, are u stil being colonised or u happy coz its nt ur daughter? Why communicating to u? Let him be arrested kaya akupatsa chitseka pa mouth izo nzako!

  22. obwana akamuzu adamusiya akuganyula.wabakili adansiya akuthamangathamanga.cheBingu adansiya akumweta ndiye lero mwati alowe kundende kkkk ndikukaika

  23. Njeeee how come munthu akudziwa status yake mkumagona ndi ana achichepere mosadziteteza, malamulo agwire ntchito bas

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