Rape ordeal leaves granny in agony

Dust is refusing to settle on cases of abuse, violence and discrimination targeted at older men and women across the country. As if adding salt to a fresh wound, the country’s senior citizens continue being disturbed to see the pace, much lower than that of paralyzed snail, when it comes to trial and subsequent conclusion of cases involving older men and women. Malawians woke up a rude awakening on 31 August 2021 to learn that a 29-year-old man had allegedly raped a sick granny aged 85 years right in her house at Ntope Village, Traditional Authority Mkalo in Chradzulo district. The suspect, identified as Andrew Mitawa, hails from the same village as well. Andrew was found in the act by the granny’s grandchild.

The granny shouted for help and well-wishers mobilized themselves and managed to apprehend the suspect who is now on remand.

The fight against abuse, violence, and killings of older persons will only become a success if all stakeholders join forces towards eliminating the vice. The timely intervention by the community in Chiradzulo district is what the country needs if Malawi is serious about creating a conducive, inclusive and age-friendly environment/society for our senior citizens. Any digression from this unified approach in fighting the vice is a recipe for more trouble on the elderly and, consequently, the ‘leave no one’ call by the Sustainable Development Agenda remains far-fetched and a pie in the sky. The community members, chiefs and the Malawi Police Service need to pull efforts together in a bid to contain the alarming increase/escalation of such crimes.

It is more relieving to learn that the court is planning to sit at the granny’s house so that she can provide her evidence. The court’s decision to sit at the granny’s house is made following reports that the granny is very sick and not able to avail herself in court to provide her evidence.

Such attacks and killings targeting the minority groups like older persons and persons with albinism in our country are largely being fuelled by systematic failures in the country’s criminal justice system which leave these vulnerable groups at the mercy of criminal gangs.

Amnesty International clearly states that older persons and other vulnerable groups deserve to see justice for these vile, hateful crimes against them. That it takes so long for cases to be investigated or heard in a court of law is a sobering indictment of the systematic failures of the criminal justice system.

Needless to remind all and sundry that the right to life is a basic human right and needs to be respected and upheld at all times. It is utter nonsense in this day and age for someone to bent on killing each other on the basis of archaic beliefs. All law enforcement agencies should take serious measures to, not only protect these innocent souls, but also find a lasting solution to this growing problem.

Can the law enforcement agencies, for once, make deliberate efforts to hold all perpetrators of these barbaric acts to account? At the same time, we expect government to demonstrate political will by guaranteeing the safety and protection of the elderly. The country lost over 15 innocent and industrious older persons in 2020, all because of some impunity demonstrated at various levels by different stakeholders. This must end now.

Older men and women are the extreme example of the so-called eccentric person against whom the members of their families, communities, and the entire society have always taken punitive action. The justification to persecute them reclines physically and emotionally in the interests of social harmony.

What is so appalling is that even chiefs are failing to play their rightful role to their subjects, in a way, failing to protect their own subjects from such harmful actions. These mercenary chiefs, seems to me, have no idea what it means being a custodian of tradition and community values within their respective jurisdictions.

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