The body of Malawi Defence Force (MDF) staff sergeant Dyson Mayao, who was killed in a rebel ambush in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last week, was buried at his home in Mulanje on Sunday.
On Saturday, grief was the prevailing emotion for hundreds of people, including Deputy Minister of Defence Malison Ndau and MDF deputy commander lieutenant general Griffin Supuni-Phiri as they welcomed home Mayao’s body at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe.
Mayao’s widow was reported as having collapsed upon seeing the coffin draped in United Nations (UN) flag. She regained consciousness after about 10 minutes.
Military honours and religious rites were done for the fallen soldier before his body was flown to his home at Ntanta Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabuka in Mulanje in an MDF Donier aircraft.
Said Supuni-Phiri of Mayao: “We have lost a dedicated soldier and a good man. He always was committed to serving the MDF. It is a big loss to MDF.”
Mayao, 50, was killed in an ambush on Novembver 29 2015 alongside 29 others, according to a Reuters news agency report The Nation quoted on December 1 2015.
The report said DRC forces killed 14 rebels while the rebels killed at least seven civilians with machetes. Eight Congolese soldiers also died in combat.
Malawi is part of the three-nation Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) mandated by the UN to engage in direct fighting against the numerous armed groups—notably the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the Ugandan Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF) and other smaller groups—that have been destabilising eastern DRC for 15 years.
Besides Malawi, other FIB members are South Africa and Tanzania who have also been previously attacked by the rebels.
Mayao is survived by a wife and five children. n