Mob justice in Tanzania: a medico-social problem

  • Paul M Ng’walali Department of Histopathology, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, PO Box 65002 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • James N Kitinya Currently at The Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Uo Limpompo, PO Box 632, Polokwane 0699, South Africa


Objective: To investigate the magnitude of mob justice and associated factors.

Background: Mob justice is a social and public health problem that has grown in Tanzania in recent decades that has negative effects on social and health of the country, communities, and families.

Materials and Methods: A four-year autopsy study was conducted at the Department of Pathology, MUCHS. Information on the cases was obtained from police, the relatives, friends and other witnesses if available.

Results: 1249 persons were killed by mobs in Dar es Salaam during the period of 5 years (2000-2004). The alleged offense ranged from a serious crime like theft or murder to a mere violation of local customs or religious beliefs. The mode of the killings were mostly burning (48.11%) and stoning (49.96%). Other modes accounted for only 3.0% of the cases. The pattern of injuries ranged from skull and other skeletal fractures to viscera rupture.

Conclusion: MJ is a social, legal and public health problem in Tanzania that needs immediate attention. Unemployment of youth and perceived economic inequalities should be addressed. As long as the judicial system doesn't work and corruption is not punished, people will continue to organize their own trials and judge their suspects in the street. These must be tackled in order to reduce the growing incidences of mob justice, hence saving life. It must be ensured that criminals do not violate the freedom, dignity and respect of each and every human or member of the society.

African Health Sciences Vol. 6(1) 2006: 36-38

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1680-6905