Dr Dénis Mukwege, human rights activist and defender of women in particular, has denounced the persistence of mob justice against women. He deplores the fact that women accused of witchcraft in Democratic Republic of Congo may be burned and their homes demolished. He indicates that not only the Congolese law does not recognize witchcraft but also recalls that human life remains sacred and calls on all stakeholders, notably journalists, to raise awareness on the fight against mob justice and accusations of witchcraft against women.
The Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Denis Mukwege has condemned mob justice cases reported recently in the city of Bukavu in particular, and in South Kivu in general, noting regrettably that women are the first victims, because they are accused of witchcraft. These regrets were expressed on February 17, 2021, on the occasion of the delivery of material support to the Panzi Hospital by a delegation of the Japanese government.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner expressed concern over the scale of mob justice in the provinces, which is costing the lives of innocent citizens, highlighting the need for the population to remember the sanctity of life.
Dr. Mukwege pointed out that the laws of the Democratic Republic of Congo do not recognize the offense of witchcraft given that the evidence is not verifiable and called on the inhabitants of South Kivu to avoid this practice, which dehumanizes women who are life-bearers.
“Mob justice never helps matters. We deplore these cases of injustice and the disregard of the State towards an end to this practice. You can’t kill someone because you think they’re a witch. It’s worth recalling that life remains sacred”, confided Dénis Mukwege.
In addition, the Medical Director of Panzi Hospital called on the media to take over the fight against mob justice through broadcasts in their various programs in order to eradicate this phenomenon.
Since the beginning of the current year, more than 7 mob justice cases have been reported in South Kivu. These include a woman who was burnt alive in Idjwi in January and another in Panzi in the Ibanda Council area.
The female media practitioners association, known as AFEM, and other human rights organizations denounced this practice and called on the justice system to play its role well in order to spare the community from mob justice cases.
Provincial authorities speak up during a field broadcast by AFEM
In reaction to the persistence of mob justice in the provinces, the Home Affairs and Security Minister, Lwabanji Lwasi Ngabo, said that the perpetrators of mob justice cases of which women are victims in several territories have been spotted by the security services and will answer for their misdeeds in court.
He said that anyone involved in these practices will be found and brought to book in order to serve as an example in the fight against mob justice in South Kivu.
“People cannot take the law into their own hands. It is rather necessary to go to the justice department. We recommend that residents avoid this very uncivil practice”, said Mr. Lwasi.
On her part, the head of the Social Affairs Division Pétronie Kangela recommended that women accused of witchcraft file a complaint with the courts, because these accusations constitute an offense. She asked the community to ban this practice, which devalues women, the educators of the nation.
The Head of the Panzi neighborhood, Nsimirhe Buhendwa, on his part deplored the behavior of his constituents recalling that the Congolese justice sanctions any case of mob justice. Moreover, she denounced the fact that only women continue to be accused of witchcraft, are tortured to death, and their property destroyed. Nsimire Buhendwa castigated mob justice calling on citizens to respect human rights. She further called on the entire population to file complains in the courts for any dispute and to avoid taking the law into their own hands.
The Administrative Secretary of the chiefdom of Ntambumba, Emmanuel Lubundo, also condemned this situation, indicating that he had held a meeting with the residents to denounce and prohibit mob justice.
This local authority promised to take steps to identify the perpetrators of mob justice, so that they answer for the charges.