You live by the sword, you die by the sword; so goes the saying. This came true for 34-year-old Maxwell Kanthiti who was brutally killed by a mob in Manase Township of Blantyre on Christmas Day.
Kanthiti’s killers demonstrated nothing of the Christmas spirit of love when they dealt with him mercilessly after he allegedly confessed to have brutally killed his best friend Steven Yobu, 28, 12 days earlier.
Hours later, his boasts turned into tragedy for him when angry neighbours and members of the community took the law into their hands, taking turns to beat Kanthiti to death. They accused him of betraying a good friend.
He later succumbed to severe head injuries at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH). Police rescue came too late as he died in the course of being treated.
His burial at Manase Cemetery on Wednesday was another spectacle, according to a witness who said people blew condoms and released them in the air to celebrate the death of a “terrorist” that had been wreaking havoc in the area.
Songs of jubilation and mockery filled the air as his coffin was “thrown” into its grave without all the traditional formalities of a funeral. She said the entire ceremony lacked order and smacked of mockery to the deceased and his family.
The witness said Kanthiti’s mother missed the burial and his two brothers left the graveyard before the end of the ceremony. Condoms and beer bottles took the place of wreaths on the grave, a sheer demonstration of just how angry Manase residents were.
She further said Kanthiti was earlier, at about 8pm, brought from Manyowe to the house where he allegedly murdered his friend and was killed at the very spot where Yobu’s coffin was placed before burial.
Said a witness from Manase: “He was stoned, whipped with belts, sticks and kicked. He never shed a tear or screamed all the while as he lay on the ground dressed only in his underwear.
“Watching the whole scene seemed like people punching a bag, not a human being. He never flinched and was resigned to his fate for he did not resist. Resistance might have been futile because the beating became free for all, young and old.”
She said Kanthiti lost a lot of blood and his attempts to rise from the ground after hours of beating irked the residents further as they intensified their beatings. They interpreted this move as a challenge, so more rocks and stones descended upon him.
Police arrived hours later but their rescue of the suspect did not come easy.
Blantyre Police assistant public relations officer Lameck Thembachako said two officers and their 990 vehicle were stoned for ‘interfering’ with the mob action.
“One officer sustained a cut on his head and the other sustained bruises. The windshield of the car was partly smashed, but they managed to remove Kanthiti from the scene to [QECH] where he died later. No arrests have been made, but investigations are underway,” said Thembachako.
Another witness said Kanthiti boasted to have killed Yobu, a development that irked his drinking mates at a joint in Manyowe Township. The imbibers suspended their Christmas drink to deal with the suspected killer in their midst with initial blows until they took him to Manase where he met his fate.
Yobu’s decomposed body was found at his house in Manase on December 13, 2012. Several household items and cash were stolen.
The witness said residents saw Kanthiti as the last person to have been with Yobu and suspected him of having a hand in the hideous crime. He said he fled from Manase since the discovery of Yobu’s body.
Kanthiti’s family were unavailable for comment.