The senior prison officer who gunned down his two sons—in an incident that shocked the nation on April 10 in Blantyre—claims he was caught in an emotional turbulence that made him lose his temper after the sons reportedly attacked and threatened to kill him.
Evance Chisi, who was station officer at Chichiri Prison, told Nation on Sunday exclusively from Mulanje Prison where he was remanded on Friday that everything happened on the spur of the moment.
Chisi added that he remembered hearing his daughter Lusungu shouting for help from her bedroom on the fateful day.
An emotional Chisi, who said he regretted his actions, described his sons as “destructive” boys who could do anything to raise money for alcohol and chamba.
A widower since September 2013, Chisi said: “I was this time set to leave for work and I had just finished taking my malaria drugs. I rushed to her [Lusungu’s] room and I found my two sons roughly searching her all over, but she was resisting.
“What happened is that one of my daughters, Susan, had the previous day sent Lusungu money for the upkeep of her child—one of the grandchildren I keep—and I learnt that my sons wanted to snatch this money from her.”
He claimed he shouted and told his sons to stop harassing their sister. But he alleged that his eldest son, Russell, 29, charged and accused him of always defending their sister.
He said the grandchildren he keeps and his other children stood helpless and were crying.
Chisi said: “He told me ‘in fact, it is you we wanted’. And before I even answered back, he kicked me in the chest and I fell down.”
And almost in tears with his head cast down, Chisi said: “I was already equipped as I was leaving for office; I reached for the weapon [his official pistol] and did it [on Russell]. My other son, Stanford [aged 23], shouted that he was going to look for an axe to deal with me and it happened again.”
He said the shooting incidents happened inside the house which had not known peace for a long time, prompting neighbours to flock to the house to find out what was happening.
Chisi, who did not attend the burial of his sons in Soche, Blantyre, as he was in police custody at Blantyre Police Station, said the deceased were the boys he raised and did everything for them but they chose to lead a life he could not understand.
He said he found it difficult to say bad things about them, “but only God knows that I tried my best to make them good citizens.”
—Tale from a family member —
The Chisi family is distraught and traumatised as members cannot put up a clear story as to what happened on that fateful morning when a father killed his two sons.
Arriving at the Chisi home in Sunnyside, Blantyre, late afternoon on Tuesday, the solemn atmosphere greets you.
And even after you are ushered into the house and have stolen glances at the faces of four people—a girl and three women—you do not even have an idea as to where to start from or introduce yourself.
Rachel, aged 32, and first born in the family, opened her narration with a prayer when this reporter paid them a visit: “May God forgive my father wherever he is.”
But what happened on this fateful day? Rachel could not give a straight answer, only breaking down, saying it was “too difficult” to explain or say anything.
Upon insistence, Rachel opened up, saying: “What I know is that my father, who suffers from high blood pressure, was supposed to leave for work that morning and was waiting for a vehicle from his office to pick him up. But I cannot precisely explain what happened thereafter; it is difficult.”
And she went on between sobs: “My father could not have done it; he is a caring and loving father, always calm. But my brothers were dangerous; they smoked and on several occasions threatened to kill their father.
“They had more than once beaten their father. Look at that door,” she said pointing at a broken door to the storeroom.
“They broke into that storeroom days before this incident to steal five bags of maize which they sold.”
Rachel claimed the boys fought and hacked each other on several occasions and that their father at times intervened to stop the fights or just watched when fed up.
She alleged that for no clear reasons, they also destroyed some household items.
She said much as she did not want to lose her brothers in that way, her father’s life was at risk and they could have killed him eventually.
Rachel said Russell was once employed by Malawi Prison Service and stationed in Mwanza.
She said when he joined the prison service in 2007 as a warder and quit in September 2013 after the death of their mother, their father convinced him to return to work.
But Rachel said it did not take long before his brother quit the job again and returned to Blantyre to cause trouble to the family.
She said her father paid for Stanford’s driving lessons, but he was not interested to hunt a job.
Rachel said: “Here is a father who wished his children well and he could not just wake up one day and kill them. He has served in his job for 32 years and committed no crime.
“He even involved people from the church to counsel my brothers, but it never worked. I am married and I stay in the Northern Region, but my father keeps my two children and another from my sister. What can a good father be if not for that love and care?
“I just came here last November, but what I have experienced with my two brothers is horror. It is regrettable this has happened. They terrorised everyone here.”
Chisi’s sister, who was at the house when Nation on Sunday visited them, said the family looked up to his brother and was devastated because of the incident.
A neighbour we spoke to, but who opted for anonymity, agreed with the family that the house was a troubled home.
Apart from the three daughters Chisi has, there are also two younger brothers to the two killed in the horrific incident.