Non Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) board chairperson Sera Longwe there is need to tighten laws on crimes against humanity to ensure that culprits do not get low sentences or Presidential pardons.

Longwe was commenting on escalating cases of crimes of passion in which spouses are killing each other for various reasons.

The latest incident is one in which police in Mpongwe arrested a 45-year-old man named Mukonka Chiselema for allegedly beating his 32-year-old wife to death after a marital dispute.

“It’s sad that we’ve lost another person, and a mother in particular, to sheer selfishness and disregard of a woman just because the man wants to be in control. We think it’s important that a man appreciates a wife’s contribution to life. So it’s very sad that we are getting these issues when we have got a law which has very stiff penalties against violence against women, children and anyone else. We just hope that the law will take its course, that man has to pay for his actions. Such people should not get lower sentences or Presidential pardons and anything like that. We also need to tighten laws against people who commit crimes against humanity,” Longwe said.

And Longwe highlighted the need for neighbors and communities to look out for each other.

“Then also, as neigbours, we are supposed to be keepers of one another. I am very sure that in this matter, neighbours did hear the quarrels but they did nothing about it. They should have intervened, we should be each other’s keeper. When they hear something going on, they should report, even if we can’t go in but we can report. With the law against humanity, it doesn’t matter if you are a third party, it doesn’t have to be the person being brutalised to make a complaint. So this means that we can have a lot of rights because if you hear a fight, you can report and then the police come and resolve everything. But why do we always wait until people are quiet and when we don’t hear anything that’s when we go and check? It is being irresponsible as neigbours. Let us be each other’s keeper and that’s the only way the laws will work. One of the reasons is that as neighbours, when we see people fighting, we keep quiet until the fight is over then we go and check. It’s too late! And the worst would have already happened. That’s just like when you see a thief snatching someone’s handbag and you keep quiet, we don’t do that. We shout, isn’t it?” Longwe said.

“So similarly, when people are fighting, we should go in and find out what it is that is happening there. So we need to be alert as neighbours. Secondly, I think we should set up small groups in communities where people can run to before going to the police. So on this one again, we are counting on the community because its in the communities where we are allowing this to happen. We like saying ‘no, a man is a man. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous something is’, that is killing women mostly. So we need to step up our own activism in the communities, we don’t have to wait for the police to come to us, let’s alert them. That’s why we have these police posts so that they can do rapid response in an emergency. We should also not allow withdraw of cases, this is not the first time that this kind of thing has happened. It has been happening throughout their lifetime together. So where has the community been? Where has the police been? Really it is about us Zambians, it’s not always the police. It should start with us. We should not withdraw cases of violence against humanity.”

Meanwhile, Longwe said she was glad that people were no longer keeping quiet about injustices in society.

“There are two things, it’s either there is a lot of incidences of this nature, which is very bad or people are realising that this violence is illegal and mustn’t be happening, so they are reporting. So there are those two sides of it but I hope it’s the latter, that we are hearing of more cases being reported and the causes of death revealed such that before the people can come everyone who has killed who. In the past everything was secretive, even when you knew who
committed a crime, people would just say kaya kaya kaya (We don’t know who has done it). But now people are realising and reporting incidences of violence,” said Longwe.