Wife mauled to death, four children and a son-in-law injured and admitted to Balaka District Hospital. The family of Alfred Thala, 46, is traumatised.
Friday, December 2 2016, will, forever be a dreadful day to the Thala family of Traditional Authority (T/A) Phambala in Ntcheu district.
Visited by Nation on Sunday on Friday at his home—about 40 kilometres from the tarmac road—Thala was so dejected to greet anyone.
Tears rolled down his cheeks unchecked. He sobbed, but later pulled himself together and turned to this reporter with a greeting.
Just after the introduction, the interview was disrupted, when Thala’s last-born son, Anderson—two and months old—asked him where his mother was.
“She is coming, she has gone to buy mangoes for you…,” he lied to him. Thala said on that fateful day, three hyenas came to his home at around 11pm, but he was not home yet: “I went out looking for piece-work, some kilometres away, and I slept there.”
He said his wife, Loveness Mchiza, heard the strange noises outside the house and when she noticed that they were hyenas, she came out to chase them.
“We keep our goats outside the house, so she thought the hyenas were after them. When she came out, she became the target for the hyenas,” he explained.
According to Thala, his wife shouted for help which attracted the attention of her 23-yearold son Binos Alfred, and her 32-year-old son-in-law Harrison Lano.
Telling the story from his bed at Balaka District Hospital, Binos said the hyenas charged at them although they had pangas. “We had pangas. We tried to chase them, but to no avail.
One of them kicked me down, one attacked my brother-in-law while the third mauled my mother,” he said. Binos said her three sisters came out of the house to rescue them, but were also attacked by the hyenas.
“Upon hearing the noise, neighbours rushed to the scene and overpowered the hyenas, then it was around 1.25am,” he said. He, however, said the hyenas dragged his mother to a nearby stream 200 metres from the house where the villagers later rescued her, but with deep wounds all over her body.
Thala said when he arrived home, he was greeted by the noise. Then he found his wife alive. “She first asked for water to drink and started narrating to me what had happened. Within 10 to 20 minutes she stopped, looked at me and took a deep breath.
Then I realised that, that was her last breath,” Thala said. The community quickly mobilised itself and took the wounded villagers, five of them, to Balaka District Hospital while others stayed home to bury Loveness.
“Some men went into the bush and managed to kill one hyena,” said Thala who is also the village head. District hospital officer (DHO) for Balaka, Eugene KatengaKaunda, said two of the five villagers were admitted to the hospital while three were treated as out-patients.
“The admitted villagers came with deep wounds, but things are getting better. They should be discharged any day,” said Katenga-Kaunda.
To Thala, unless the hyenas in the area are hunted down, the villagers will continue to live in fear.
“I have headed the village for over 16 years, but have never seen anything like this. Hyenas are roaming our area from as early as 5.30pm. Something needs to be done urgently,” he said.