Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa, who was found dead on campus in September last year, was murdered, contrary to what police said that he committed suicide, the commission of inquiry into the matter has said.
Malawi President Joyce Banda, who received a report on the inquiry on Tuesday, has since promised that all those responsible for the murder will face the â€œfull force of the lawâ€.
Presenting the report, chairperson of the commission Justice Andrew Nyirenda said their findings were based on testimonies from witnesses, post-mortem investigations, visits to the scene of the incidence and analysis of other pieces of evidence, including pictures.
â€œThe report has made several findings and recommendations. The ultimate findings, though, was that Mr. Robert Chasowa was murdered,â€ said Nyirenda. He said because of the nature of the inquiry, he would not go into details of the report but leave it to government to make the findings public.
President Banda appointed the commission on April 13, 2012 just days after she was sworn in. But Nyirenda said due to several circumstances, including unwillingness of some witnesses to come forward and testify, the inquiry delayed and it only started after May 15, 2012.
Nyirenda disclosed that out of the 94 witnesses who testified, only four came forward voluntarily while the rest had to be looked for and summoned by the commission.
Nyirenda, who described some of the testimonies as lucid, said the final report contains â€œextremely graphic and depressing photographsâ€ which were inevitable and had to be included to make the report complete.
President Banda said the findings confirm what many Malawians were suspecting, that Chasowa was murdered and not that he killed himself.
Who is responsible?
Speaking in Chichewa, the President emphasised that if Chasowa was murdered, then there must be somebody responsible for the murder and government will look at the report to establish who was responsible, the motive behind the killing and what should be done to the suspects.
Said the President: â€œWe can assure you that anyone responsible for the death will face the full force of the law. We will leave nothing undone to ensure that justice is not only done but also seen to be done. Let the blood of Robert Chasowa be a lesson to all that taking human life is not a light issue.â€
Chasowaâ€™s body was found on the morning of September 24, 2011 lying near the dispensary/accounts department of the Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi. Soon afterwards, the Malawi Police issued a statement arguing that Chasowa committed suicide by jumping from a four-storey building.
The Nyirenda Commission also had retired Justice Isaac Mtambo, ex-police deputy inspector general Mary Mangwiza Manyusa, Sophie Kalimba, Professor George Liomba, lawyer-cum-politician Paul Maulidi and Administrator General Annabel Mtalimanja.
Meanwhile, Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu has welcomed the release of the official report of the Robert Chasowa inquiry.
Said the minister in a statement released last evening:
â€œThe outcome of the Robert Chasowa inquiry, and the confirmation, as many suspected, that Robert Chasowa was brutally murdered by the Bingu wa Mutharika regime, is a fresh reminder of the dark and dangerous days that the Malawi nation lived through just five months ago.
â€œThe government of President Joyce Banda firmly believes in the rule of law and has vowed that never again shall this nation return to those dark days when precious lives of Malawians could be taken away anyhow, when the inalienable rights of our countrymen were being trampled upon willy nilly.
â€œNow that the mystery over the disappearance, now murder, of Robert Chasowa has ended, the wheels of justice should take course to ensure that those who led the young and promising life of Robert Chasowa to a premature end should individually account for their evil deeds.â€