- 3 suspects die since 2015
- HRDC wants special probe
As the country continues being bruised by the atrocities against persons with albinism (PWA), Nation on Sunday can reveal that three key suspects have died mysteriously since 2015, leaving investigations hanging.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has said trails surrounding these deaths point to a number of conspiracy theories, all aimed at suffocating the end of justice in the fight against abductions and killing of persons with albinism.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera demanded a questionnaire but had not responded to it by press time. But he briefly said he needed to consult investigators on the cases, especially on how these deaths may impact investigations.
The latest death of Buleya Lule, a suspect who allegedly offered to ‘buy’ a 14-year-old Dedza boy with albinism Goodson Makanjira for K800 000, is a third one in the hands of police.
Police said Lule was pronounced dead on arrival at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH)in Lilongwe where he was being taken for medical treatment after the court adjourned on Wednesday.
On the other hand, Lule’s family members said they suspect he died in police custody as they saw his lifeless body stretchered to the hospital.
Already, the High Court in Lilongwe issued an injunction on Friday against burial of the body until an independent autopsy is done.
The other two suspects who died in the course of the same investigations are the suicide of Donald Msafiri—a suspect in the abduction of 18-month old Eunice Nkhonjera in Karonga and the 2015 alleged suicide of Joseph Andiwotchi, a suspect in the abduction of Ibra Pilo, a two-year-old girl in Machinga.
Since Eunice Nkhonjera went missing on January 22 2019, police had been engaging communities to get hints to corner the suspects.
In the course of the investigation, Police summoned Msafiri, 61, of Malongo Village, T/A Wasambo in Karonga district, after some members of the community indicated that three days before the child went missing he visited Eunice’s mother Loness Nkhonjera’s, asking for land to buy.
However, the questioning did not go well with Msafiri, who allegedly later committed suicide by hanging himself in a forest.
National Police Service spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed the death of the 61-year-old, adding that medical examination showed death was due to suffocation.
He could neither confirm the alleged suicide note nor comment on the matter but he indicated that Msafiri was called for questioning and was later reported dead.
Asked if the death would affect investigations into the Dedza case, Kadadzera said the incident will not affect the investigations, but to date, police have not stated any hints on the case, nor have they found the missing boy.
In the Andiwotchi case, police told the media in March 2015 that the 19-year-old man died after smashing his head on the tarmac road when he jumped off a moving police vehicle.
The suspect jumped from the vehicle on their way to Zomba Resident Magistrate’s Court to take plea. A post-mortem conducted at Machinga District Hospital indicated the suspect died due to internal bleeding and head injuries.
Andiwotchi and his two brothers, who allegedly escaped to Mozambique, abducted the two-year-old albino girl at Muluku Village in the area of sub-Traditional Authority Mchinguza in Machinga.
A statement signed by HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo, said these deaths [of key suspects] smack of foul-play, adding, it is too tempting to conclude that there are powerful forces orchestrating them.
Mtambo said the death of Lule is too loud a tell-tale of how unprofessional and rotten the police system is.
“Firstly, we strongly believe that these deaths are mafia-like planned and executed just to frustrate investigations that would lead us to alleged markets and lords behind these heinous crimes.
“Secondly, we at HRDC and indeed all well-meaning Malawians are tempted to think that those that we have entrusted with the responsibility of bringing the perpetrators of these inhumane acts are deliberately failing to do their job,” reads the statement.