Thousands of people on Friday attended the burial ceremony for Selemani Tambala, the third in a seven-member family to die from severe burns sustained after suspected arsonists torched a Lilongwe UTM Party district office on May 4.
Tambala died early on Friday at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe. He was a guard of the UTM offices and was living with his family in the building.
His wife Ayiles and son Shukran died within hours of each other from the burns last week. They were buried next to each other at the same Area 23 Cemetery in Lilongwe.
Tambala’s elder sister Mercy Waison could not hold back tears knowing she now has the burden to take care of the deceased’s children.
“I am greatly shocked by this death, he was responding positively to treatment and I was hoping that after his recovery, we shall together raise these children only to hear this shocking news,” she said amid sobs.
Waison said two more children are in the hospital. They are yet to recover from their wounds following the inferno.
Speaking in an interview at the ceremony, UTM Lilongwe district governor Livan Phiri rubbished reports that the inferno that razed the building down was caused after a container of petrol kept in the house caught fire.
Said Phiri: “Those are lies! The Tambala family was so poor and could not run a fuel business. We know that it is our political enemies propagating such lies, perhaps out of guilt.”
The sentiments were shared by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence, who, in his speech at the funeral urged the Malawi Police Service to speed up investigations and arrest those who perpetrated the violence.
He warned government and police that failure to do so will ignite demonstrations for justice for the Tambala family.
“We want the police to arrest those who did this heinous act. We are giving them seven days and failure to do that will make us demonstrate for justice of these innocent victims,” Trapence said.
The ceremony was conducted in line with Islamic faith.
High profile figures at the funeral included Trapence, Mary Chilima, Lilongwe City South West legislator Nancy Tembo, former first lady Callista Mutharika and human rights activist Reverend MacDonald Sembereka.