In October last year, a body-chilling scenario was discovered in Mtangatanga forest reserve located in Mzimba district. It was a discovery of 30 people buried dead in one mass grave.
Further police investigations revealed that the dead individuals were Ethiopian nationals who were being trafficked through Malawi by Malawian citizens who were allegedly into human trafficking illegal business.
Barely a month later, in November, the former president Peter Mutharika convened a press conference at his residence in Mangochi district, telling them that he was shocked at the government’s silence on the cause of death of the migrants.
Mutharika said Malawians and the international community deserved to know what happened. Everybody thought Mutharika was motivated by genuine desire for justice and that he was reflecting good sense. But this came out not to be the case.
Unknown to Mutharika, the investigations that were being conducted by the police pointed to his own backyard. His stepson, Tadikira, was eventually arrested and is now, together with seven other suspects, answering charges of human trafficking and aggravated manslaughter.
The seven others include Samuel Navaya, David Luhanga, Thomson Kazembe, Ducnam Kalulu, Boniface Ngulube, Aubrey Dukes and Arnold Mwakiyelo. Mutharika went mute!
Perhaps to confirm that calls for justice are easily made when the said justice is to operate against others, Mutharika later on allegedly organized his political troops to perpetrate allegations that the arrest of his son was a political witch-hunt. He abandoned his call for justice in broad day light and with a straight face. The arrest of his seven accomplices was none of his troops’ business.
However, the police said there is strong evidence linking Tadikira to the crime. Word on the street has it that the vehicle which was used for trafficking the illegal immigrants belongs to the said Mutharika’s stepson. When the police traced the driver who was driving the said vehicle at the material time made the confession that resulted into the arrest Tadikira and the other accomplices.
Meanwhile, the suspects re-appeared in court on Tuesday where the prosecution paraded witnesses. A renowned pathologist, Professor George Liomba, told the High Court sitting in Mzuzu that the 30 victims whose bodies were found in a mass grave in Mzimba district’s Mtangatanga forest died of suffocation due to carbon monoxide.
As the State’s fifth witness, Liomba was testifying before justice Gladys Gondwe. Liomba, who nearly turned the courtroom into a pathology class, said upon the invitation of a fellow pathologist, Dr. Charles Dzamalala, his duty was to establish the cause of death as well as the number of the days the deceased had been dead.
He said from the 30 bodies that were discovered, only 5 were examined as all the dead bodies shared similar common features like height, slim male adults between the ages of 24 and 45 and were all covered in red clay soil like that of Mtangatanga forest. He further said he concluded that suffocation was due to carbon monoxide because some body tissues showed typical sign of the condition which is cherry color.
Earlier on, a fourth witness, Baxter Mkumbwa, a criminal investigations officer for Mzimba police station told the court after thoroughly canvasing the crime scene, they collected some items like a piece of metal believed to be from a vehicle that transported the deceased, a money transfer document, documents bearing foreign phone numbers, a wrist watch and other identification documents all from Ethiopia.
The case has been adjourned to November 28, 2023 and will run for three days where the State is expected to parade more witnesses.