The Community of Sant’Egidio, active in Malawi for more than ten years, opposes the serious episodes of violence against people accused of witchcraft. As Catholics we are filled with indignation particularly at the unacceptable forms of private justice and even acts of lynching that should have no place in a civil society and whose victims are especially the elderly and the children, the weakest sectors of the population.
We are convinced we need to spread a culture that calls upon civil justice and the rule of law when a crime is committed, a culture active in erasing prejudices and rejecting all violence as the solution to solve controversies and problems. At the Schools of Peace, which our Community has opened in several cities in the Country, we help children grow up with the values of coexistence and peace, teaching that no person must ever be the object of violence, regardless of his or her mistakes or whether he or she is guilty or not in the face of justice.
A child can never be a witch and be condemned by improvised courts in the districts by common citizens or within families.
An elderly must never be beaten or killed due to this prejudice: old age is God’s blessing, not a curse. We know and visit every week hundreds of elderly people in the Country and to us they are a grace. Many of them were abandoned or require support and friendship: our elderly need to be held in regard, protected and loved, because they represent the memory of the Country.
The Community of Sant’Egidio, which is part of the Catholic Church and has been present in Malawi for years, in expressing its concern for these episodes of unjustifiable violence, addresses an appeal to all Malawian citizens:
Let us work together to uphold a culture of welcoming, respect and peaceful coexistence;
Let us build together a Country free from fear and violence!
Whoever believes evil can be overcome through violence adds evil to evil.
Whoever is attracted by violence as a means to solve problems damages himself, causing harm to his her life and to the life of the Country.