The Inspector General of Police, Lemmy Kajoba, has expressed concern over the recent increase in the number of murder cases involving ritual killings, commonly known as “kikondo,” in the North-Western Province. Kikondo, which translates to “moving coffin,” is a ritual practice by local people in certain parts of the province, believed to help identify the killers of their relatives in suspicious circumstances.
According to police records, there have been nine cases of kikondo reported between January 2022 and January 2023, with only one arrest made so far. The incidents are particularly rampant in Solwezi and Kasempa Districts. All the recorded cases involve elderly people aged between 60 and 90, who are alleged to have been behind the death of someone in their communities.
The perpetrators, including the relatives of the deceased, often abandon their villages immediately after practicing kikondo, knowing that police will be looking for them. It is alleged that the villagers join in by beating the victims with various weapons once identified by the “moving coffin.”
In response to this situation, Mr. Kajoba, who is currently on a familiarization tour in the North-Western Province, has instructed officers to round up all suspects and hold them accountable for their actions. “Your target should be the Pallbearers and the relatives. Arrest and charge them for murder,” he directed. Additionally, he has ordered the deployment of additional paramilitary officers to Solwezi and Kasempa Districts, to assist in the manhunt for suspects currently on the run.
The Police Chief emphasized that the new government, elected under the backdrop of the rule of law, respects human rights. He stated that the Zambia Police will ensure that the policy directive by the President is fulfilled. “We cannot afford to see the degeneration of security situations in some parts of the country where people are brutally murdered on mere accusations of practicing witchcraft,” Mr. Kajoba said. He acknowledged that the problems of long distances where these crimes occur and lack of police transport, makes it difficult but efforts should be made at all costs of ensuring that culprits are held accountable of their actions as this will send a strong message to deter this primitive and inhuman practice by the people.
To address the problem of transport, Mr. Kajoba assured police officers that the government has bought more than 150 motor vehicles for the Zambia Police Service through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). He said that police officers will be able to respond effectively to security concerns as each constituency will have a police motor vehicle. The motor vehicles are expected to arrive before the end of the first quarter of 2023.
The Police Chief, accompanied by the Commissioner for Administration Auxensio Daka, Commissioner of Police for North-Western Province Dennis Moola and other senior police officers, interacted with officers in Solwezi, Kasempa, Mufumbwe, Manyinga, Kabompo, and Zambezi Districts.
Even people who die from obvious disease or in road accident are bewitched. Nobody dies without being bewitched. Nobody grows without being a wizard or a witch. We are a sorry society.
Arresting pall bearers and others is a superficial solution. What needs to be done is to educate the citizens. Bring schools to these rural areas and also bring facilities such as hospitals, coroners, and doctors. When people die in rural areas no formal procedures are followed. educate the citizens on what the doctor will do to the body. Let them understand Post mortems and doctors’ reports. Let them understand that people dont die only when they are bewitched. Bring civil institutions to the villages.
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