Maputo — At least 20 elderly people were killed in Mozambique between 2010 and 2011 over witchcraft allegations, and many others were physically, sexually psychologically abused and deprived of food assistance.
Speaking in Maputo on Friday, during the celebrations of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), Chairperson of the Third Age Forum, Antonio Sitoe, said that witchcraft and other superstitious allegations are the leading causes behind the increasing cases of violence against elderly people across the country.
Figures from the Office for Assistance of Women and Children Victims of Domestic Violence of the Mozambican police, show that over 60 cases of violence against elderly people were reported in the first quarter of this year alone, in six provinces across the country.
Quoted by the daily paper "Noticias", Sitoe explained that often elderly people are accused of witchcraft and very seldom find a satisfactory answer when they report their cases to the local police stations, which worsens their plight.
For Sitoe, the rates of violence against that elderly show an alarming increasing trend across the country, hence the need for increased efforts to combat this evil.
Antonio Sitoe pointed out that a number of elderly people have under their responsibility to take care of orphaned children, grandchildren and among other dependents, which means that abusing or killing them leads to the suffering of many people.
Janet Duffield, director of Beira-based NGO HelpAge, also agrees that there is growing trend in the number of cases of violence against the elderly, hence the need for the adoption of a law to protect this vulnerable group.
"It demands the will of all social actors to overcome this evil," said Duffield.
A study carried out by HelpAge in the districts of Boane, Manhiça and city of Matola, in the southern province of Maputo, found that six out of ten elderly women interviewed had been victim of violence and at least four had their property stolen.
Duffield acknowledges that these figures could be just the tip of the iceberg, since many cases remain unreported. Therefore, she argues that there is a need to launch a nationwide awareness campaign to encourage people to denounce these evil acts to the authorities.