In what can be described an abuse of power, a police officer is alleged to have singlehandedly ordered a deduction of MK64, 000 to cater for postmortems at Kamuzu central hospital, from the MK 150,000 financial assistance government rendered to each 8 bereaved families whose children tragically died at the Bingu National Stadium on 6 July, 2017.
The bereaved families have since cried foul, saying they were forced to settle bills of a service they never asked for.
Alfred Mwale 41, of Mwalala village T/A Chakhaza, in Dowa district, Isaac Pawulo 36, of Msukwa village T/A Msamala in Balaka district, Albert Adisi 46, of Chiyembekezo village T/A Msamala in Balaka district, all of them currently staying in Mtandire township, in Lilongwe, are some of the victims to the malpractice
Narrating a sad story, Alfred Mwale, uncle to the late 14 year old Aaron Imvani, told Lilongwe News Agency (Lina) recently that police officer, a Mr. Phamisa from Lingadzi (Area 18) police station in Lilongwe, alongside a certain medical doctor, surprisingly commanded the eight bereaved families to each cough MK8, 000 (11.43 dollars) from MK150,000 (214.3 dollars) every family had received from government, totaling to K64, 000 (91.43 dollars) as charges of the postmortem conducted on the dead bodies of their beloved ones at the hospital.
Said Mwale “all of a sudden, this police officer told us that each family must pay MK 8,000, for a postmortem exercise. Upon hearing this, as none of us had requested such a service, we were all dumbfounded and did know what to do. Since such a demand sounded more of an order, we had no option but to just comply. We paid the money” lamented Mwale.
Isaac Pawulo, father to the late 10 year old boy Promise, and Albert Adisi father to a 13 year old girl Precious, (also late) , concurred with Mwale respectively.
“We were all summoned right at the hospital premises, to get such verbal instructions from this police officer who was actually responsible in receiving the money. He said each family is liable to pay such an amount for postmortem activities. But what baffled us most is that no receipt was issued. With this, we were not very sure if government could operate like this?” wondered in unison Pawulo and Adisi.
Senior Group Village Headman Chigoneka of Ntandire, who witnessed the incident at the hospital, echoed the bereaved sentiments, saying it was a shocking site upon seeing the police officer collecting the said money from the bereaved families, without any backing document.
“I happened to accompany some of these bereaved families, and indeed this police officer collected the money in my presence at the hospital without even issuing a receipt. Honestly speaking, am still failing to come to terms with such kind of dealings. Because I haven’t seen this before,” said Chigoneka.
Asked if he is aware of the matter, national police spokesman James Kadadzera confirmed the development.
“ Yes! This is true but our man acted upon instructions from a certain woman at the department of disaster management affairs. May you please cross-check with her,” said Kadadzera.
However, the undersecretary Gloria Sanders, said her office never issued such instructions
She stressed that Department of Disaster Management Affairs-DoDMA, was not in any way involved with sanctioning the deduction of MK8, 000 from each bereaved family for postmortem at the government referral hospital. And that the bereaved families, were contacted directly after receiving the said financial assistance from government.
“What I can say is that DoDMA provided financial assistance and transport to all bereaved families as per directive from His Excellency the President. Anything after that was not DoDMA issue” stressed Sanders.
When contacted for comment on how a postmortem is supposed to be conducted particularly in government hospitals, ministry of health publicist, Adrian Chikumbe, clarified saying a postmortem is a service that is a demand driven.
“Whoever demands it pays for it. Normally, police demand postmortem services from the hospital to help them in their investigations into one’s death. Standard practice is that police pay for this service,” he said.
A renowned human rights defender Billy Mayaya minced no words saying the behavior demonstrated by the said police officer was deplorable.
“The extortion of money from the bereaved that lost loved ones is most deplorable. If indeed these allegations are true, we demand that the police officer mentioned must be identified and that an investigations be made to prove or disapprove allegations,” he said.
Commenting on the same issue, Human Rights Consultative Committee-HRCC said the organization will make a proper follow-up until it gets to the bottom of the matter.
“For us as HRCC we see two issues here, either the policeman acted corruptly or, they simply abused the victims by demanding money from them, which our demand will be for police to pay back. If it was paid directly we will demand for a receipt. But we will follow up,” said Chairman Robert Mkwezalamba.
8 people died, and 60 others were seriously injured in a stamped that occurred on the dot of Malawi’s 53rd republic anniversary scheduled to take place at the newly built and magnificent Bingu national stadium, a situation that forced President Peter Mutharika not to attend the function.
Meanwhile, the whole nation, is waiting with an abated breath as to when results of the commission of enquiry instituted by Mutharika would be out-Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :