The High Court of Malawi has ordered an inquest into the death of renowned detective Bob Mtekama last year purportedly due to Covid-19, but his family suspects foulplay.
The Malawi Police Service director of Criminal Investigations Department (CID) died while undertaking several high-profile investigations, including the multi-billion kwacha cement import deal and the 2014 murder of former Anti-Corruption Bureau director of corporate affairs Issa Njauju. Police had just arrested Norman Chisale—former president Peter Mutharika’s head of security—in connection with the Njauju case.
Mtekama’s family suspected a cover-up by police after his body was quickly moved from Blantyre where he died to his home village in Nkhotakota where he was buried. He died on August 4 2020 at Blantyre Adventist Hospital.
The family further claimed that there were questionable events during the period before and after the death; hence, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steve Kayuni asked the court to open the inquest.
In an interview on Monday, the DPP confirmed that High Court Judge Anabel Mtalimanja had granted the request for the inquest and said the State will now wait for the court to appoint a coroner—a magistrate or judge to hear evidence that may lead to findings of what killed the former top detective.
He said the appointment of the coroner might be followed or preceded by a call for the public to submit any information they may have on circumstances leading to and in the aftermath of the death.
Said Kayuni: “A call will be made for witnesses to come and testify before the court. When the call is made, anyone who knows anything will be asked to come forward so it’s difficult to tell how many witnesses will come forward.”
He said that another possibility in such inquests is for exhumation of the body for further medical tests.
But Kayuni was quick to indicate that any such questions would have to be made by the coroner once appointed depending on the evidence presented or requested.
Mtekama was one of the most renowned, experienced and highly trained detectives in the country.
He tested positive to Covid-19, but investigators say the cause of his death was not conclusive.
In September 2020, one month after his death, Police instituted a probe to establish the cause.
Inspector General of Police George Kainja, who had re-appointed Mtekama to head the CID, said the probe was instituted following speculation of foulplay in the death.
In May this year, the Malawi Human Rights Commission also indicated that it was launching an investigation into Mtekama’s death.