Irate members of the community in the area of group village headman Mwangolera, Traditional Authority Kyungu in Karonga the northern district of Malawi on Thursday destroyed properties and houses of some elderly people who believed they were witches.
Karonga Police deputy spokesperson George Mulewa confirmed the incident, saying the community accused them of being involved in witchcraft.
He said police in the district rescued Robert Mwangolera, 67, and 66-year-olds Ketness Nambera and Sofia Namanda from Mwangolera Village, on suspicion of practising witchcraft.
The community organised themselves into a mob, and accused the three of being involved in witchcraft.
Their houses were set ablaze, while livestock and other property worth millions of kwacha were stolen, according to Mulewa.
He said: "A man from Mwangolera Village died on January 2 2018. Some people in the village suspected that the deceased was bewitched by Mwangolera and his friends.
"The fracas erupted after villagers mobilised themselves to kill the suspected people. Property, including livestock, has been stolen while some houses were burnt to ashes."
Malewa said the law enforcers were investigating the matter.
The government has been calling on Malawians "to stop accusing the elderly of witchcraft whenever someone dies".
The Malawi Civil Society also spoke up against the attacks, saying: "We would like to remind Malawians that mob justice violence, whatever the reasons behind it, finds no justification in both our domestic and international legal human rights system as it violates the right to due process, sanctity of life (Section 16 of Malawi Constitution) and their presumptive innocence until proven otherwise by a competent court of law."
Belief in witchcraft runs deep in Malawi.