Source: allAfrica April 2, 2014, remains a sad day to 53 year old Judith Jumpha of Kwaloza Village, TA Dambe in Mchinji as she recalls the nightmare she passed through when she was left lifeless and had broken jaws after being severely beaten by Group Village Headman Kwaloza and his boys.
Jumpha said the nightmare which took place around 10:00 PM on the fateful 2nd April, started as the chief suspected her of bewitching his son hence him commanding men and the chief himself to beat her up.
"They were seven people inclusive of the chief, they came at around 10pm and knocked on my door whilst I was about to sleep, they came shouting that am a witch and today is my final day, I need to be taught a lesson on how witches are treated," narrated Jumpha to Mana with difficulties as she was still nursing her broken jaws.
She said the people took her to the chief's house where she was beaten severely after the son of the chief whom she said was acting like an imbecile said she was the one who bewitched him.
"After approaching the chief's house, we found his son of mid 20's tied with ropes all over and when we entered they asked him who is bewitching him and he said me, all this was a setup, the son was an imbecile and the house of the chief is dangerous because there were also some traditional medicine there," she said.
According to Jumpha she was attacked because she is a hardworking woman and the chief is someone who likes oppressing people so that he should be considered supreme and anyone in the village who seems to be doing better is the chief's enemy.
"I have never practiced witchcraft. I think it is because of my hardworking spirit that I was attacked, I am sidelined in all the programmes to help the empower people in the village, so I decided to do things for myself. I involve myself in various businesses to keep me going," she said.
Jumpha has a vegetable garden, fruit trees at her house and she also has a big farm land which she says the chief was once interested in taking part of it to give it to someone.
"Jealous has gripped the chief that is why he is doing this to me, my husband is a security guard we help each other and he is not happy, maybe he wants us to beg from him," she said.
The husband of Judith, Ephraim, said the chief's act is so bad as he is the one in the forefront of promoting gender based violence.
"We hear there is a program of GEWE which talks about empowering women and avoid gender violence, what example is the chief giving? This is un-called for and we are just saddened that he has much power that even he hasn't been sentenced yet," worried Ephraim.
According to Ephraim, after the incident took place they reported the matter to police who arrested the chief and he stayed for five days in police cell but was released on court bail as he said he went to look for a lawyer.
"It is now three months and nothing has been communicated. My wife has stayed for three months as well without talking because of the beating, yet there's no justice in sight. She had a broken jaw and she lost her three teeth on the night she was beaten," he said.
Even though the chief is reported to have done such a gruesome act, people expected the chief to stop ruling the area but to surprise of many, he is still the chief and still calls for meetings.
"I wonder what type of justice system this is, the chief nearly beat to death this woman and yet he is still in control. What can stop villagers like us from doing a thing as he did? He is the same person who taught us of GEWE yet he is not doing what he said," said one villager on condition of anonymity.
Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Programme (GEWE) is a three year programme supported by the European Union and UNFPA.
It is implemented by the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social welfare and in Mchinji Social Welfare Office is implementing it with CRECCOM.
It seeks to reduce inequalities in accessing productive resources and development opportunities. It is being implemented in 13 districts of Chitipa, Mzimba, NkhataBay, Karonga, Dowa, Mchinji, Salima, Dedza, Mangochi, Nsanje, Chikhwawa, Chiradzulo and Machinga.
It was through the knowledge of this programme that the Jumpha's felt cheated and emotionally abused by the chief who took law into his hands by beating up the wife.
"We realized that we have been robbed of our rights and that the chief has violated rights of the woman after being empowered by officers who taught us about the existence of GEWE and what it does," said Ephraim Jumpha.
Meanwhile CRECCOM has said they are following up the issue until justice is prevails according to Project Officer for GEWE in Mchinji Linece Sanga.
"We are following up the issue on the woman and the chief, it is a bit stagnant now because the man got a bail from court to look for a lawyer, so we are waiting for them, but what happened is so sad and the chief being a leader was not supposed to do that," she said.
Sanga said with the Jumphas ability to report the case to police it has shown that people are really coming out of their shells where they just suffered in silence and now they are empowered to report gender based violence.
"This is not the only case that has been reported to us, since the introduction of GEWE we have received a lot of reports on gender violence and things are being sorted out and cases are reducing," she said.