The killing of older people on alleged witchcraft accusation has been going on for many years. Although it is believed that belief in witchcraft is widespread in Tanzania cutting across societies, class and regions, in the past years this practice was reported to be more practiced in Shinyanga and the Lake zone region.
In the recent past a worrying trend of murder of older people is seen in parts of Tanzania where it was believed there were less incidences of the crime. The most heinous crime committed against older people is that reported by media on 10 October 2014 where seven people majority between 55 and 78 were murdered by a mob on suspicion of witchcraft practices.
This murder of older people which has received international and local attention was reported only because the numbers killed in one single incident from one area was overwhelmingly high. Unreported cases continue to occur. According to the newspaper which quoted information from the Legal and Human Rights Centre, between January and June 2014 a total of 27 older women were brutally killed in Butiama while ten women were killed in Mara region.
The demographic transition that we are experiencing in the twenty first century is characterized by the increase in the number of older people across the world. Africa although considered the youngest continent, is also experiencing this growth. Improvements in life expectancy are resulting in more and more people living longer.
However, long life should be seen as a triumph of this century and those who are benefiting from the dividend of the graying world should live in dignity, care, love, respect and recognition of their human rights. This continuous cruel murder of older men and women due to suspected witchcraft practices should be condemned in the strongest terms.
The denial of right to life of older men and women should weigh heavily in our collective conscious whether we are leaders in communities, faith, politics, in institutions entrusted with keeping law and order, including those in the media.
We should question what in our values, belief systems and principles is going wrong to an extent we subject our parents and grandparents to such a brutal killing?
HelpAge International and organisations of older people call on those duty bound to halt the killing by taking appropriate action against those that are masterminding such crime and provide protection so growing old is not equated to a curse, insecurity and the denial of the right to life which is both a basic human and constitutional right.
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For more information contact:
134 Migombani Street
Regent Estate Mikocheni PO Box 9846
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Tanzania Social Protection Network
PO Box 281
Tel: 0754-874424 USA RIVER
Tanzanian Older People’s Platform
PO Box 2198