Grief and fear has engulfed a family in Mpingwe, Blantyre after their daughter, 24, was found burnt in a lodge at Mount Pleasant and later died in hospital.
Police have since arrested the deceased woman’s alleged boyfriend and a murder charge was opened on Tuesday this week at Blantyre Magistrate’s Court.
Blantyre Police spokesperson Augustine Nkhwazi said the deceased, identified as Kulsum Mohemd, left home on September 26 to meet the suspected boyfriend, identified as Umair Ayub, in Limbe, Blantyre.
He said Ayub, 23, told police that the two then agreed to have a discussion at an executive lodge [name withheld] in Blantyre.
Said Nkhwazi: “Ayub claims that minutes after arriving at the lodge, he left the room to buy water outside and on his return, he found the girlfriend burnt with petrol.”.
He said investigations are underway to establish who set the deceased on fire and how petrol was found in the room.
“Our investigators were not impressed with Ayub’s explanation of the events, so we arrested him for further interrogations,” said Nkhwazi.
But in a separate interview, the deceased’s father Mohemd Hussein Shakih said his daughter told him that she was going to her workplace in Limbe.
“She told her brother, who dropped her at her workplace, that she would call him to pick her up when she was done. Later, we tried to call her, but we could not get through. Next, Ayub called my son around 7pm, telling him my daughter was burnt on her arms and legs,” said the father.
He said later the same night, Ayub visited his home to deliver the same message, but fell short of explaining how his daughter was burnt.
“When we went to see her at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital around 10pm, 95 percent of her body was covered in burns and as far as I could see, almost her whole body was covered in bandages,” said Shakih
When contacted, the lodge’s manager, who did not want to be named, confirmed that the two checked in at the lodge but did not stay long.
“They left after about five minutes. Everyone was fine. When our workers went to check the room they had booked, they found some burnt papers in one corner, but everything else was intact,” said the manager.
Shakih said the family wants justice.
“We are heartbroken. She was our only daughter. What baffles us is what we think is the lack of interest from the police to ensure that justice is done. The police never processed a post-mortem yet they released the body to us. They told us that a post-mortem was not necessary.
“The hospital has not given us a medical report and prosecutors quietly took the suspect to court without even informing us. We suspect foul play. All we want is to know what happened to my daughter, who burnt her and why, and let the law take its course on those behind my daughter’s death. We are ready even to go back to the grave for a post-mortem,” he said.
But Nkhwazi said they failed to conduct a post-mortem because the family wanted to bury the body the same day due to their religious beliefs.
He said Ayub, a Malawian of Pakistani origin, is remanded at Thyolo Prison.