The Nyau dancers in Chipangali district of Eastern Province who abducted two girls on Saturday afternoon on allegations that the girls mocked them, are now demanding a ransom of K60 and two chickens.
But the provincial police command has warned that it will not condone the abuse of children by Nyaus in the province on the pretext of observing the tradition.
Updating News Diggers! in interview on the state of the two girls who were abducted on Saturday afternoon on their way to a village council meeting, Esnart Mwale, a family member of the dethroned Chief Mafuta, said the abductors were demanding a ransom of K60 and two chickens before releasing the two girls to their families.
“They (the Nyau dancers) are saying that they can’t allow the girls to go back to their parents unless they pay a K60 ransom and produce two chickens. So, right now, I have asked the parents to go and report the matter to the police so that the police can intervene. The problem is that they are not allowing anyone to enter and see the girls because that is tradition; no one is allowed to enter that place if you are not initiated. So, as it is, there is nothing we know regarding the wellbeing of the two girls,” Mwale explained.
But Eastern Province deputy Police Commissioner Sharon Zulu expressed concern at the abduction of the girls and reprimanded the traditional leadership for not reporting the matter to the police.
“I haven’t received that information yet and I am worried that issue happened on Saturday, and up-to-date, we don’t have a report. So, when I got a call from one of the media personnel, I sent some officers to that village to go and check what is really happening and nobody has reported the matter to us and it’s so annoying. Because if this really happened on Saturday and then even the chief himself he cannot encourage the family members to report the matter, they are all just sitting down. It’s quite saddening, it’s bad, it’s hurting,” Zulu lamented in a separate interview.
“So, just some few minutes ago, I got the report from one of the media [houses] who came to my office and I was like, what are you telling me? This thing happened on Saturday and then you are telling me today, why didn’t you bring it to my attention earlier because it’s just a matter of sending officers in uniform. Imagine, a 13-year old girl from Saturday to today (Monday) she is being abused. I don’t think we can tolerate such things, really.”
Zulu vowed to deal with Nyau dancers and finish them off for abusing young girls.
“In as far as I am here, that system of [Nyau] or whatever they call themselves will be finished! And I am ready to gun down anyone,” Zulu warned.
“I just sent the officers some few minutes ago and I am waiting for the feedback. I just told them to say, ‘can you go and get those people (the Nyau dancers) including the girls and bring them here.’ And I don’t want the chief to intervene because if he was a serious chief he would have reported this matter to the police. To me, I see think that this chief is also entertaining such things.”
Meanwhile, Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) regional coordinator, Dorothy Ndhlovu, said the girls were at fault for having mocked a tradition, which was supposed to be preserved.
She, however, called on the traditional leadership in the province to intervene in the matter and ensure that the girls were released.
“As YWCA, we are concerned about the abduction of the two girls despite [that] they were making fun of the Nyau dancers, which is against tradition, and the girls were wrong. But now, our concern is that since they have been kept all this time at the Dambwe, we don’t know how safe these children are. So, we are appealing through the traditional leadership, especially from the headmen themselves, if they can come to the aide of these children. Because even by law, looking at the age of these children they cannot make a good decision. So, on that part, maybe, they can be bit lenient on them. But we know that culture is culture and we have [to] preserve it. That is why as YWCA, we are appealing to the traditional leadership to come to the aid of these children,” said Ndhlovu.