People in Rumphi West have accused game rangers of silently adopting a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy following the discovery of a decomposed body with bullet wounds in the park three weeks ago.
Mchinanguwo resident Amon Siska Gondwe, 81, went missing on Sunday, November 16, only for his body to be found lying adjacent to a bundle of poles and ropes extracted from trees in the protected area four days later.
The Department of National Parks and Wildlife denies knowledge of the killing, but Principal Village Head Mchinanguwo confirmed that an autopsy conducted at Mwazisi Health Centre in the presence of police from Hewe certified that the octogenarian’s body had wounds on the forehead, chin and shoulder.
The post-mortem was done on the day the locals found the body in a search ordered by Mchinanguwo, he said.
“The post-mortem was done in the presence of a police officer and it confirmed that Mr Gondwe was gunned down, but who killed him? The village suspects he was killed by game rangers, but are they supposed to shoot to kill?” wondered the traditional leader.
Rumphi Police Station officer-in-charge Glinton Mitayi said he was aware of the matter which was reported to Hewe Police Station last Wednesday.
“We are still investigating the matter,” said the district’s police principal who is also involved in mediating a case in which fisher Wallace Msowoya, 17, drowned in Lake Kazuni after being confronted by game rangers on November 26.
Mwazisi strip borders with a part of the park which is probably the worst hit when it comes to poaching and tree cutting, said regional wildlife and parks officer George Nxumayo.
The department has no record of Gondwe’s killing, said Nxumayo.
He reckoned talk of three or four wounds rules out fears that the bullets were fired from the M16 guns used by the parks and wildlife assistants, but a scattergun or short guns which ended up in the hands of poachers. n