The ambassador for older people at HelpAge Kenya, Mr Kinuthia Wamwangi, has called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to form a panel to look into the killing and profiling of elderly people, especially women, accused of practising witchcraft.
Mr Wamwangi, ex-chairman of the defunct Transition Authority, was recently appointed to his current position to champion the welfare of senior citizens. He said the killings of older people is a silent problem that must be addressed urgently.
He spoke after the brutal killings of four women in Marani sub-county in Kisii on Sunday on suspicion that they practised witchcraft.
“This is unacceptable! Those who perpetrated the killings should be considered murderers and charged as such,” he said.
He said Kenyans should be bold enough to publicly challenge negative assumptions, prejudices, stereotypes and discrimination against older people in their communities.
Mr Wamwangi noted that the elderly are custodians of our culture, traditions and history and they must be respected.
He asked the government to initiate civic education on how to treat and take care of older people.
“The problem of killing older persons in our country is like the mental health status of Kenyans that has been ignored for a long time but now has been exposed,” he said.
“We also want the government to ensure a monthly stipend (is given to) all older persons in our country. It should be consistent.”
Kenya, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, has disbursed monthly stipends to some senior citizens, but not consistently.
Mr Wamwangi urged Gusii leaders to come out publicly and denounce the lynching of older persons in the community, noting that the trend is worrying.
Over the years, several elderly people, especially women, have been lynched in Kisii and Nyamira counties for allegedly practising witchcraft. Not much has been done by the government to deter such actions and the crime continues to be perpetrated.
In the recent cases, Ms Jemima Mironga, 60, Sigara Onkware, 62, Agnes Ototo, 57, and Sindege Mayaka were picked up from their houses and frog-matched to the lynching grounds.
Four people accused of killing the women were arraigned in a Kisii court on Tuesday.
Senior Resident Magistrate Paul Mutai ordered that they be detained at the Rioma Police Station for 10 days pending investigations.
Police say they are hunting for more suspects, most of whom appeared on videos circulating on social media since the lynching on Sunday.
“We will surely get the criminals. Mob justice is unacceptable. The law must be adhered to,” said Kisii County Police Commander Francis Kooli.