Fear has gripped the Asian community in Malawi as a prominent businessman was abducted and later found murdered with his mutilated body stuffed in his car boot (trunk) in the commercial capital, Blantyre, police and a human rights activist confirmed Wednesday.
“We got a report of a missing person last (Tuesday) night and today (Wednesday) around noon we heard he has been found dead,” police spokesman Pedzesai Zembeneko said t in an interview Wednesday. “We are investigating the motive behind the abduction and murder because nothing seems to have been stolen from him.”
Rafiq Hajat, a prominent Malawian human rights activist – himself of Asian extraction, identified the murdered businessman as Zain Mukadam, 75.
“He was going to the mosque for evening prayers; he never returned, he did not even reach the mosque,” he said.
Hajat said an overnight search with the police for the missing businessman proved futile until his car was found abandoned in Kanjedza township in the business district of Limbe in the city.
“His body was found stuffed in the boot with multiple stab wounds. He was a decent old gentleman,” he said.
The activist said fear has gripped the Asian business community because this was not an isolated case.
Of late there has been a spate of armed robberies in Malawi, including daylight cash heists, targeting at the Asian community which controls most of the retail and manufacturing business in Malawi’s towns and cities. Recently a policeman was gunned down in broad daylight in Blantyre as he was guarding a bank, also run by a prominent Asian family.
Most Malawian Asians hold dual British and Malawian passports. There used thousands of Asian Malawians scattered all over Malawi until founding president the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda decreed in the 1980s that the Asians should leave rural businesses to be run by indigenous Malawians while they move to the cities.
According to prominent writer and historian Desmond Dudwa Phiri, the ‘indigenisation’ policy was meant to protect indigenous business upstarts. But Phiri said this coincided with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin’s expulsion of Asians in the East African country.
“Although Dr. Banda never expelled the Malawian Asians, some of them took advantage to resettle in the United Kingdom while still maintaining ties in Malawi,” he said.
Most Malawians of Asian extraction are concentrated in the British city of Leicester.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the brazen spate of armed robberies, President Peter Mutharika warned that “honeymoon was over” for armed robbers for the Malawi Police Service was devising new strategies to check crime.
But Wednesday murder of Mukadam may indicate that the new strategies were yet to bear fruits.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :