They saw a police officer coming. A gunshot sound followed and he screamed “mayo!” in agony. That was the last the world heard of 16-year-old George Tayimu of Landscape Village in Lilongwe, who had illegally entered the forest of the nearby Kamuzu Palace to gather firewood.
That was on November 4. More than a month later, no one has owned up to his feared death or disappearance. No police station says it arrested him. No hospital says it is treating him or keeping his body in its morgue. Tayimu’s pair of blood-stained clothes, however, were found in the forest by villagers who defied police to secretly search for the young man. So far, the search is in vain.
This is a story that has shocked Landscape Village, a small slum sandwiched between Kamuzu Palace and the sprawling new affluent Area 44.
As Nation on Sunday crew arrives in the village on a fact-finding mission, villagers, mostly living in tiny grass-thatched houses, volunteer to narrate the story that has shocked the village: George Tayimu was murdered, but his body is missing. The villagers claim Tayimu’s story has not been heard until now because he comes from a poor and marginalised community.
Tayimu’s father, 62-year-old Frackson Tayimu, in an interview on Wednesday, struggled to either speak of his son in past tense or present.
As tears run down his cheeks, Frackson Tayimu comes close at conceding that his son is dead, but the absence of his body gives a flicker of hope that he is somewhere, alive.
The father said police have for a month denied the family access to where his son was suspectedly killed, but the villagers without informing State House or police secretly went into the forest near State House.
“We found his clothes stained with blood. We told police what we had found, but instead of ordering an investigation, they grilled us on how we had accessed State House premises without permission.
“All I need is to see the body of my son. In my culture, for one to come to terms and for my son to rest in peace, we need a proper burial,” said Frackson Tayimu, a security guard.
According to the villagers, there is wide speculation in the village about the police officer who shot the Standard 7 pupil but the family says it will wait for official investigation.
The deceased’s uncle Ketulo Mbewe said police have shown total disrespect for the sanctity of life and cited the family’s poor status as the reason for such treatment.
According to Ketulo, his nephew, alongside a friend, Reuben Chunga, illegally went to Kamuzu Palace to search for firewood in its thick forests.
The villagers said Chunga has disappeared for fear of arrest and police say they cannot do anything when the only witness is nowhere to be found.
National police headquarters spokesperson James Kadadzera on Thursday said his office had no report on the incident whereas State House press secretary Mgeme Kalirani said he was yet to receive information on the matter as of yesterday.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national coordinator, Martin Chiphwanya, on Thursday described the conduct of police over the matter as unacceptable and said circumstances surrounding the issue suggest cold-blood murder. n