The prevalence of Jungle Justice in Africa has been nothing short of worrisome. Year-in-year-out, news of extrajudicial killings and violent acts meted out to people for the minutest of crimes fills our airwaves. These violent acts perceived as justice have become increasingly rampant, with Cameroon and Nigeria having the highest rates in Africa. DW has it that at least one person on the continent faces torture or even death every day!
Barbaric killings of this sort did not start today and it appears that the end is not even in sight. Just this year, we have had cases of a special police unit in the Central African Republic (CAR) unlawfully killing over 18 people; four suspected armed robbers in Nigeria viciously beaten; a man burnt to death for stealing a generator and a television set in Abuja, Nigeria; two women in Mombasa, Kenya, who allegedly stole clothes beaten mercilessly; an innocent man burnt to death over 10 Naira in Abuja! The list is endless! These are daily happenings in developed cities across Africa in the 21st Century.
Beyond these, there are two other forms of killings across the continent- Religious Jungle justice and Domestic Jungle justice. Violence in the name of religion is another sad trend across Africa. In this case, a mob of holy members or a designated ‘spiritual prophet’ inflicts immense pain on a person allegedly possessed of an evil spirit. With weapons ranging from canes to stones, these mobs in an attempt to ‘redeem’ the soul of the victim carry out their own version of justice or spiritual cleansing. While I am not against any religion of any sort, I completely discredit any gruesome act for whatever reason. Besides, are the weapons of our warfare now canal?
What tops it for me is domestic jungle justice. We see parents mercilessly beating up their own kids and inflicting marks on them using sharp objects as a form of punishment. Call it whatever name you deem fit but it still falls under jungle justice for me. I may not totally agree with the westerners that give little or no value to respect and cultural integration in training their wards, but if beating your child naked in the middle of a street till blood oozes out is a lesson on morality, I would rather be wrong.
The issue here is not just the fact that innocent people are getting killed; it is that humans have taken law into their own hands and the verdict is always capital punishment. What is worse, the crimes are usually of pathetically little value. I listened to a spoken word piece by Philip Asaya and my heart completely melted. The inept images of an innocent father being doused with hot oil, till his ‘tyre and fire’ demise, left me speechless. I have not come across a situation where jungle justice is being served and only God knows if I will have the guts speak up against it at that moment; however, something needs to be done to put an end to this war against our own brothers, sisters, church members, and children.
Sadly there is no move towards enforcing a rule against the perpetrators of these; hence, we can only seek to enlighten ourselves till the last of it is heard. There is no form of murder or violent act – be it from spiritual cleansing or discipline – that is permissible under law. It should not be engaged in and should be reported to appropriate bodies immediately. Let the arms of law deem fit what form of punishment is given as its verdict to offenders. Let us for the sakes of humanity do what is right at all times; let us choose peace and love over death and evil.