Makhumula’s death inquest back in court: DPP, Magistrate Nebi off the hook

The death Inquest case of one of the country`s well-known politicians and multimillionaire, Sir  James Ojuku Makhumula resumes at Blantyre Magistrates Court  eight years since the inquest was commissioned.

Lawyer Salimu: Case back in court
Lawyer Salimu: Case back in court
Sir Makhumula
Sir Makhumula

The death Inquest was commissioned in 2008 after late Makhumula’s first son, Ganizani and his siblings disputed the death of their father- alleged to have committed suicide in 2005.

Ganizani Makhumula and his siblings requested the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to commerce inquest proceedings to determine the cause of their father’s death due to suspicions as to how their step-mother, Hellen narrated the occurrence of his suicide.

The case, however, hit a snag after the top prosecutor and the Coroner, Principal Resident Magistrate Innocent Nebi abdicated their statutory powers and failed to allocate resources towards the conclusion of the inquest proceedings.

In an interview on Tuesday, lawyer representing Ganizani and his siblings, Ambokire Salimu confirmed the resumption of the proceedings.

“The proceedings resume at the Blantyre Magistrates Court when the ballistic expert is expected to tender the gun which the deceased is said to have used to commit the alleged suicide,” explained Salimu.

Contempt Charges Discontinued

Following the resumption of the inquest proceedings, Salimu disclosed that the contempt of court proceedings against the DPP and the Coroner have been discontinued.

In April this year, the High Court in Blantyre Ganizani to commence contempt of court charges against the Dpp Mary Kachale and Coroner Nebi for defying the court’s orders.

The two were accused of abdicating their statutory powers and for failing to allocate resources towards the conclusion of his late father’s inquest proceedings.

in March last year Justice Sylvester Kalembera ordered the DPP to provide resources to have forensic analysis of the blood sample that was found in the living room of late Makhumula’s residence done.

Justice Kalembera further ordered the Dpp to bring before the Coroner Nebi remaining witnesses in the inquest particularly the police officer who is to tender the alleged suicide weapon, semi-automatic pistol, pending “the determination of the substantive Judicial Review proceedings.”

The court also directed the Coroner to take control of the inquest proceedings by giving the relevant orders and directives to the DPP to provide resources for the prompt resolution of the inquest proceedings.

 Makhumula’s Suicide Disputes

Makhumula, a former cabinet minister in the 1994 multi-party cabinet of former President Bakili Muluzi, allegedly committed suicide at his home in Mapanga, Blantyre on Saturday 3rd September, 2005 by shooting himself three times in the head with his own pistol.

He gave no motive for the suicide but his wife Hellen told journalists then that Makhumula appeared depressed in the morning of the day of the incident, and that the suicide occurred while she was away visiting a sick relative at a certain hospital.

Some of the members of late Makhumula’s wider family have been disputing the alleged claims that their father committed suicide especially following the discovery of alleged blood stains on the carpet in the living room of the deceased’s residence.

The alleged blood stains have been regarded as part of evidence disputing the alleged suicide claimed to have been committed in the bath room and not in the living room where the stains were uncovered.

Collected blood samples are waiting for forensic tests to be done in South Africa as the office of the Dpp is failing to pay the hired pathologists, Dr. Zamalala and Professor Liomba to compile necessary DNA samples.

And several arguments have been raised during the inquest proceedings disputing the suicide claims, which include the type of the weapon used and the number of bullets fired.

Late Makhumula is alleged to have shot himself three times on the forehead using a Czechoslovakian made 9mm semi-automatic pistol- model 75B and serial number V8617.

However, according to report presented during the inquest proceedings by Officer In-Charge of Malawi police Criminal Investigation Department (Firearm and Ballistic Branch), it was extremely impossible for Makhumula to kill himself using the alleged semi-automatic  pistol.

The Officer In-Charge argued that “It is impossible  to shoot yourself on the forehead more than once as the firearm (semi-automatic pistol) requires pulling of the trigger on every discharge of ammunition.”

Another argument raised is that late Makhumula was right-handed, however he was found dead in his bathroom with the semi-automatic pistol in his left hand. Ganizani and his siblings, based on this fact, argue that the whole scenario of their late  father’s alleged suicide was staged.

Late Makhumula, popularly known as “Sir James”, was one of the founding members of the former ruling United  Democratic Front (UDF).

He once quit UDF and became chairperson for now defunct National Democratic Alliance (NDA) during the 2004  elections.

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