The good news is that, save for blisters and scars on their tender bodies, three siblings who were admitted to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe with severe burns, returned to their Area 24 home yesterday.
But the bad and heart-breaking news is that the children had no real ‘home’ to return to, having lost both their parents and a brother to the burns in the suspected petrol bomb attack on May 4 at the UTM Party office in Area 24 in Lilongwe whose backroom acted as their abode.
William (7), Ahmadu (9) and Janet (3) could have literally returned to a shell of a house they had treasured as home now blackened and gutted. Some suspected hoodlums torched the office, having encircled the structure and the victims’ room with tyres that caused an inferno.
The siblings’ father, Seleman Tambala—who was the office’s security guard—and mother, Ayiles, died after frantic efforts to save their children from the fire. Both parents and the four children made it to KCH wards but Shukran (11) and Ayiles died within hours of each other, on May 5 and May 6, respectively, before the family head followed suit on May 15.
Some family members share moving stories over the Tambala family’s agony, including the fact that an ailing Seleman, at one moment, demanded to see his wife, who had died days before.
When the youngest child was given toys to play with in hospital one day, she refused and said she would prefer being reunited with her mother. The mother had died days before.
The discharged children were yesterday spared the shock of revisiting their old home; instead they were taken, from KCH, to a rented house in the township.
The area’s block leader William Banda, some sympathisers and UTM Party leaders have utilised siblings’ condolence money to rent a new house and to provide upkeep.
The country’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima—who is also UTM Party president—and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera were among thousands of mourners during the twin mother-and-son burials in the Tambala family on May 6.
Lilongwe UTM district governor Livan Phiri said the party leadership was yet to meet for long-term plans on how to assist the Tambala children.