Three BBC journalists were among a group attacked by a mob in Karonga, Malawi, on Friday night. The mob believed the journalists to be vampires.

Dariud Gregory Barzagan, Ahmed Hussein Divela and Prince Anus Asamoah are working on a documentary on ‘traditional magic and the violence associated with it in the northern Karonga district.’ They were accompanied by local journalist Henry Mhango.

As they started filming in the early evening, they were attacked by a group armed with pangas, axes and other weapons, who were reportedly unnerved by ‘seeing the faces of strange white people‘ and began throwing stones. One of the two vehicles the journalists were travelling in was seriously damaged and their equipment was taken.

A local politician, Frank Mwenifumbo, rescued the group, who were taken to a police station for questioning. Much of their equipment has been returned. Mwenifumbo raised the possibility that the journalists had not informed the authorities of their planned trip – “I thank God that the journalists were saved. The community did wrong for taking laws into their own hands. But the journalists are at fault especially for not informing authorities within the area about their presence.

Vampire threat

In October, the United Nations and the US Peace Corps withdrew staff from several districts in Malawi, due to the threat of lynchings sparked by the fear of vampires. The US State Department issued a warning in September after a number of foreign nationals were injured in the violence.

Illiteracy is reportedly hampering the government’s plans to address superstition.


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