A Zambian magistrate addressed his peers recently asking that they consider adapting the guidelines currently in place in their Witchcraft Act in light of some strange incidents. Magistrate Edsen Shanduba wants to make changes that allow prosecution of any person or people actively involved with witches or witchcraft so people feel safe again. He believes that witchcraft is a very real issue in Zambia and that it required immediate attention.
“Witchcraft is real and we cannot ignore it. Even the bible talks about witchcraft. It is my appeal that witchcraft Act should be amended,” Mr. Shanduba said.
He took advantage of the opportunity to speak in front of the judiciary at the launch of Industrial Relations Court (IRC) registry to mention his concerns and have the matter resolved as quickly as possible. He felt that, since the judiciary’s purpose was to make sure that justice was as efficient as possible, it was the ideal time to propose the changes to the Witchcraft Act.
“The people in authority should consider amending the Witchcraft Act. We have quite big problems when where matters of witchcraft are brought before the court. According to the witchcraft definition, it just talks bones and one wonders if these are bones of an impala or a donkey so that definition has given us a slight problem.
The IRC launched recently to handle industrial and labor-related matters within the province, rather than people with complaints or lawsuits traveling into Lusaka for court. The IRC is now its own division within the High Court, thanks to amendments made within the Constitution. They will meet for the first session, or circuit, in April. Each circuit lasts for about two weeks. The last circuit is scheduled for this fall.
Ernest Mukulwamutiyo, the High Court Judge-in-Charge, sees the pros of this particular division of the High Court. He said that cases that were going through Lusaka could now close within a year and that ruling delivery times would shrink to about a two month waiting period once the court adjourned on the case.
The Witchcraft Act was enacted in 1914 to which they refer is a set of guidelines to deliver proper justice for the offensive magic and offended parties.