Malawi ‘human-meat’ talk cripples restaurant business in Lilongwe city

Restaurant owners at Tsoka Flea Market (especially around ‘Chakulamba’ area) in Lilongwe are crying foul as customers continue to shun the place following a rumour that some men “were caught selling human meat” at the place.

A strong rumour made rounds over the week in the capital city that some men from Chinsapo Area were “spied on” preparing a body of a woman which the rumour says they cut into pieces and carried it to Tsoka Market’s Chakulamba restaurants for kanyenya.

But both the police and restaurant owners around Chakulamba place have dismissed the rumour as ‘totally’ false.

It is reported that between Monday February 11 and Tuesday February 12 unidentified man in Chinsapo had gone to steal sugarcane and that while there he stumbled on the ugly scene.

Malawian meal in a restaurant: Nsima and beef, rumours of human-meat making rounds in Lilongwe
Malawian meal in a restaurant: Nsima and beef, rumours of human-meat making rounds in Lilongwe

“This man saw five men busy removing the skin of an animal and when he looked closely he was shocked to realize that it was a body of a woman,” explained one source, “Since he had identified the men as some of those who sell roasted meat at Chakulamba restaurants, he alerted the police who later caught the men selling the ‘human meat’ at the restaurants.”

The rumour further said when the police asked the men to taste the meat they claimed was beef, they refused and they were arrested forthwith and taken to Lilongwe station where it is alleged they confessed to have been selling human meat.

But Lilongwe Police station publicist Ramsey Mushani expressed complete ignorance on the matter.

“We haven’t had any incident to that effect and there is no way we could miss it if it had happened,” said Mushani, who later conferred with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and the Officer-In-Charge of the station but came back blank.

Chakulamba area on Saturday lunch hour was too deserted and those who could be seen at place were men seated next to their nsima pots with no customer in sight.

One of restaurant owners around Chakulamba place, Potipher Thembakako, also dismissed the rumour as false and that whoever had created it had ill intentions to destroy food businesses of people around the area.

“We are very saddened with this development because since the rumour broke out earlier this week people are shunning our restaurants and business has come to a standstill,” Thembakako said.

He said as people who had a lot of responsibilities at their homes, the go-slow of their businesses was tantamount to killing and he called for concerned parties to intervene in the matter before families of the restaurant owners at Chakulamba starve to death.

“We have gone to some radios to dismiss the claims and have ourselves heard out,” explained Thembakako, and went on “We have also gone to the police with the concern and what the police, and ourselves, are challenging the public is that those with tangible information on the rumour should come out in the open with the facts.”

Chakulamba is a renowned type of nsima in Lilongwe and it has been there from time in memorial.

It is prepared without relish to go with it and due to this the place attracts vendors selling various foods such as roasted meat, mang’ina, and roasted fresh fish, for Chakulamba customer to buy and enjoy their meal.

Thus, with no one interested in eating meat at the place, both the meat vendors and Chakulamba sellers are affected since, though separate, their businesses are inter-related.

Feasting on dog meat

Published reports last year indicated that people in parts of Malawi have been eating dog meat thinking it was lamb after a trader, Yohane Nyelere, killed dogs and sold the meat to the unsuspecting public.

Police last year arrested Nyelere on suspicion that he went about buying dogs which he then killed, skinned and sold to the public.

The 22-year-old  Nyelele buying dogs before killing them and disposing of their heads.  Police were led to a secluded place the trader used for skinning the dogs where they found a decomposing head and sin of a dog.—(Additional reporting by Nyasa Times)

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