A father who was reportedly beaten by a mob after he allegedly killed the man who attacked his daughter died in hospital, in a case that has drawn attention to the rise in reported cases of rape in Malawi.
The death of the 47-year-old man was reported on Thursday in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe. He was allegedly beaten by a vigilante mob and left for dead, said to be relatives and friends of the man he had killed.
It comes after women’s rights activists criticized National Security Minister Richard Chimwendo Banda, who said communities should deal with perpetrators of rape and sexual abuse themselves. He later apologized for his comments.
Women’s activists have been holding regular protests for the past few months in Malawi to demand tougher rape penalties after a series of high-profile and disturbing cases, including several attacks on children.
Lilongwe Police Deputy Spokesperson Benjamin Foster said the father had rescued his screaming 13-year-old daughter from a 21-year-old man who allegedly broke into her room and attacked her.
Police said they were investigating and would arrest the people who later attacked the father, although they said he “did not follow the right path” by killing his daughter’s attacker. Foster was quick to criticize those who took justice into their own hands, saying vigilantism was on the rise in the capital.
“As a police officer, we are very concerned about this trend and we call on the public to stop taking the laws into their own hands. When they suspect that someone has committed a crime, they must arrest that person and take them to the police for justice, ”he said.
Immaculate Maluza, president of the Association of Women Lawyers, said recent incidents show that the country’s legal system is not trustworthy or respected.
“Killing someone without due process was not really the best way to deal with the situation. They should have taken the perpetrators to the police and let the judicial process take over, ”Maluza said.
He said he did not believe that Banda’s comments about vigilantism were behind this case.
“I do not believe that what has happened is the result of the comments made by the minister because if that were the case we would have seen more cases of these incidents [mob justice]. The minister also apologized and it is important that we look at the problems that exist within our society that perpetuate the increase in these cases, ”Maluza said.
President Lazarus Chakwera has established a task force to investigate the increase in cases of rape and sexual abuse.
Maluza said that there were several factors for the increase, but emphasized the need to “conduct a situation analysis” so that the justice authorities can work with the most up-to-date data.
Malawi ranks 172 out of 189 countries in the UN Gender Inequality Index, which measures the reproductive rights, security and economic freedom of women.
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