It’s April 2007. The Goaso Hospital Administrator is attacked and lynched by irate youth. He was on the road from the Sunyani Government Hospital to Gaoso, transporting his mother’s corpse. Suspected to be a serial killer at Atronie in the Brong Ahafo Region, the agitated youth, deaf to explanations and reason, meted out his death sentence.
Fast forward to 2015. Shouts of “Thief! Thief!” A young man, probably in his late twenties is surrounded. A curious crowd rushes forward. Well-built men place car tyres over the man. Beaten and bloody, he begs in vain for his life. The man is crying. A smart volunteer supplies some petrol. And right before my eyes, another man becomes a victim of mob justice at the Makola Market in Accra.
Terrified, I drew near to understand the cause of this barbaric act being played out. His crime? Allegedly, he had stolen a piece of cloth that was being sold by a Makola Market woman. I could feel and see his anguish in anticipation of death. And thus condemned, with no one interested in his tears and cries, the man was set ablaze. I still hear his horrific shrieks. Anyone within a 200 metre range could have heard him. The mob? They sang. Yes, they did, celebrating the death of a cloth thief.
This is Ghana in the 21st Century, where we watch the world news and are horrified by suicide bombings and killings rife on the streets of Afghanistan and Syria. But right in our backyards, the quest for justice takes a twisted turn because in our frustration, we demand for it now. This is Ghana where we have chosen to live in a democratic dispensation, governed by laws and where the wisdom of the law never condemns a person until he is proven guilty. The callousness of instant justice is an affront to these values on which our democracy is founded. And when such a barbaric act can take place within earshot of police officers directing traffic, I shudder to think that the help which must come from the establishment may not come. After all, mob justice is an eruption of the dissatisfaction of a people that have been betrayed by the very systems that are meant to uphold law, order and justice; the Ghana Police Service, the Judiciary, the Parliament of Ghana.