Malawi’s former president, the late President Bingu wa Mutharika died on April 5, 2012 on the way to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), the Commission of Inquiry set to establish the circumstances that led to his death has disclosed.
This puts to rest distortions of Mutharika’s actual day of death which has been changing between April 5 and April 7, 2012.
Late Mutharika’s brother Peter on Wednesday declined to comment on some of the findings of the report, saying he would want to see it first. But he said the family’s position remains that they did not agree with the setting of the Commission of Inquiry.
The report reveals that late Mutharika was already dead when government flew him out of Malawi to a South African hospital on the night of April 5 when he collapsed at his residence in the capital Lilongwe before he was taken to KCH.
However, presenting the report to President Joyce Banda, chairman of the Commission Justice Elton Singini said the Commission failed to get hold of a post-mortem report by the South African hospital.
Detailing events leading to the late President’s sudden death, Singini said Mutharika collapsed at State House in the Presidential audience room at around 11.10 in the morning and was taken into an ambulance to KCH.
“He died on the way to the hospital and that was within minutes of his collapse before the ambulance reached the hospital. The ambulance arrived at the hospital at about 11:25 am and the President was brought in dead,” he said.
Singini said the findings revealed that medical personnel at KCH made attempts to resuscitate him but it was already too late.
“At around 2:30 pm, doctors at the hospital pronounced him dead and informed the authorities of that fact; The cause of death of President Bingu wa Mutharika was irregular beating of his heart at that moment of his collapse, called cardiac arrhythmia, which resulted in him suffering a cardiac arrest,” he added.
Singini said late Mutharika had a history of heart attack having suffered a minor heart attack in 2009.
Cause of death
However, Singini said the Commission failed to establish the actual cause of Mutharika’s death since it did not get hold of the post-mortem report from the South African hospital where late Mutharika was flown to.
He said as of January 31, 2013, the Commission was told the report had not been issued by the South African doctors and the President’s interventions yielded nothing.
He said despite earlier arrangements that the report be handed to the Malawi Government, through the Office of the President and Cabinet, the South African doctor who brought the report into the country gave it to one of Mutharika’s children.
Singini said the Commission chased the post-mortem report until the inquiry report was finalised and printed and later resolved that they could go ahead presenting the report based on the testimony received and the Notice of Death by the doctors in South Africa, and not on the actual post-mortem.
In an interview soon after the report was presented to President Banda at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, Mutharika’s brother said he would not comment on the report until he sees it.
“I think it’s a bit too early for me to comment but I would say that as a family, we still stand by our earlier position, as released in the statement soon after the Commission was established,” he said.
President Banda instituted the Commission of Inquiry on June 1, 2012.
Apart from Singini, other members of the Commission included retired Inspector General of Police Joseph Aironi, Dr Tiwonge Loga, Dr Elizabeth Sibale, Father Joseph Mpinganjira, Brian Nyasulu, Esther Chioko, lawyer Jabbar Alide and Dr Charles Dzamalala, a pathologist.
Singini said they interviewed a total of 123 witnesses.