Tension arose at Mchengautuwa in Mzuzu on Thursday morning when a mob wanted to set alight a thief caught stealing in one of the houses in the township.
What started as a promising day, turned into a nightmare as people were ready to reduce the suspected thug to ashes using the readily available petrol and matches. The angry mob started manhandling the suspect around 10AM while chanting, “wakuba musamusuye choncho azolowera”
But the suspect repeatedly pleaded with the angry mob to spare him saying he had to steal because of poverty.
For the past three weeks, stories of thieving have become rife in Mzuzu city, particularly in Mchengautuba Township.
Residents have been sleeping with their eyes wide open guarding their property. Some have already lost their property and as days are going by, possibilities are high, some may follow suit.
“We are sick and tired of sleeping our eyes with wide open because of thieves. Today, we will conduct a ceremony that will deter the would-be thieves by burning this man here,” screamed one man who kept on saying that thieves are drawbacks to development thus needs stiffer punishment.
Another, man, who seemed to be leading the mob, kept on downplaying the idea of taking the thief to Police. He described the Police as useless and corrupt. He claimed that Malawi’s security system is very weak.
“Mbava tithana Nazo tokha apolisi alibe ntchito. Moti tikapita, akayitulusanso lero lomwe. Kenako izabaso. Tiyeni tingochita nayo (let’s just deal with thieves on our own, police officers are unreliable),” he said.
It took the sympathy of this reporter to touch-base with some police officer who came to rescue the suspect. But, drama still continued as the angry mob told the Police pointblank that should they find another thief, they will skin him alive.
Malawi24 consulted one of the Mzuzu based social commentators John Beza Nkhata to give an insight on why thievery is becoming rampant and why people resort to mob justice.
“One, high levels of poverty. Two urbanization. In our country many people don’t have stable source of money yet they have huge responsibilities at home. How do we expect them to survive? That’s obvious, stealing is the closest alternative,” he said.
“On the issue of mob justice, people seem to have lost trust in their Police service. This might be due to lack of knowledge on how their police works thus they think it’s useless.”
Beza Nkhata then urged for sensitization campaigns on evils of mob justice and operations of Malawi police service.
Before publishing this article, there was no immediate comment from the Police authorities on the matter.