Money has always been associated with evil. From biblical times, Jesus Christ was betrayed by one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who wanted to make a quick buck.
Recently, Arnold Saka, head teacher of Lwanjati Primary School at Kamtagwala Village, Traditional Authority Mabilabo in Mzimba, lost his life.
On October 15 2012, at around 11 pm, thugs knocked on the window of Sakaâ€™s house at the school and asked to see the head teacher.
â€œThey said â€˜madala dzukaniâ€™, but they did not say who they were. My husband took an axe and a panga and headed towards the door, only to find the thugs had already broken into our house,â€ says Emelida Ndawandawa, the deceasedâ€™s wife.
Frightened, Ndawandawa pleaded with her husband not to confront them. Upon seeing the axe and panga, the thugs shot Saka and ran away.
Thinking that her husband was chasing the thugs, she rushed to nearby groceries and called for help.
â€œMy daughter then came to tell me that my husband was dead. When I was rushing out of the house, I thought I had stepped on some water, but it was blood. My husband was lying in a pool of blood,â€ says Ndawandawa, sobbing.
She says the thugs might have been looking for money since two weeks earlier, they had also tried to break into the house at night. At that time, Saka was not around.
â€œThey said they wanted money, but I told them that there was none. They started pushing the door from outside. We pushed it from inside while calling for help. They then ran away,â€ says Ndawandawa.
The family was known as the â€˜bankâ€™. Ndawandawa is a treasurer for a village bank that was initiated by Catholic Development Commission (Cadecom) in the area.
Her husband was treasurer for Chamaji Catholic Church. Days before he was killed, there had been a paper Sunday at the church where people from the area made generous contributions.
But it was the local development fund (LDF) money that might have cost Sakaâ€™s life. According to an official of the school, who asked for anonymity, there was a project to construct a teacherâ€™s house.
â€œThe cheque was given to the committee and it was supposed to be cashed the following day. When people heard that the money had arrived, they thought it was hard cash,â€ he says.
The official disclosed that there was a school block project funded by Malawi Social Action Fund (Masaf) and the money was abused.
â€œIf you looked at the school block and the amount of money spent, you will be shocked. So, people are used to benefitting from such projects,â€ he said.
Another official disclosed that Saka, who was supposed to occupy the house after completion, was very strict and wanted every tambala to be accounted for.
â€œHe was supposed to accompany the committee to buy school materials. He wanted to live in a good house,â€ said a school committee member.
But none of the killers thought about the immediate aftermath of Sakaâ€™s death. He left behind two childrenâ€”a girl, Rhoda, who was born in 1995 and Elias, a boy, who was born in 1998.
Sakaâ€™s death means tough life for his wife and children.
â€œWe were working together on everything. Even when he received his salary, we would budget together. I do not know what I will do with the children,â€ she says while sobbing.
The deceasedâ€™s father, 79-year-old Bernard Saka, wants government to find the killers.
â€œGovernment should help to find my sonâ€™s killers and why they did it. There are rumours circulating in the area, they should find leads,â€ says Saka, adding his son helped him and his brothers.
Champhira Police officer in charge Bright Sanudi said police are doing everything to find the culprits. Sanudi said he even sent officers to the funeral just in case they would listen to some important stories.
â€œThere are many stories coming out and we are exploring all areas,â€ said the officer.
Sanudi also said that since Saka was shot by a muzzleloader, police have stepped up the search for those who are keeping the locally made guns in their houses.
While the family has lost a bread winner, the school has also been dealt a big blow. Lwanjati Primary School has classes from Standard One to Four. Saka was the only teacher. While he lived, he tried have another teacher join him at the school or to be transferred to another school, but his efforts proved futile.
Since there is no teacher, the school is closed. What next? Ministry of Education spokesperson Lindiwe Chide says pupils have been relocated to some schools nearby as no teacher wants to go there.
â€œSince the death of the only teacher at the school, the ministry has been trying to send another teacher but they are refusing because they do not know who killed their colleague and why. They are scared so what we have done is to relocate pupils to other schools,â€ said Chide.
That will only be possible to those pupils that live within walking distances of the other schools.