Revealed: Chilima’s aide complained of ‘too much turbulence’ in a message sent at 10:10 am, pilot also spoke of bad weather

At exactly 10:10 am on Monday, one of Veep Saulos Chilima’s aide on board, late Chisomo Chimangeni, sent a message to his work colleague, Winnie Nyondo—who is also media officer in the office of the Vice President—complaining of ‘too much turbulence’, something which speaks of a terrible weather during the day of their flight.

Spoke of turbulence while in the flight: Chimangeni

A day before, on Sunday, Captain Flora Selemani Ngwirinji, member of the crew in the ill-fated aircraft, had a conversation with her friend, Chikondi Kasambara who is a legal officer at Legal Aid Bureau, where she complained how difficult it was to land the plane at Mzuzu Airport due to bad weather when she carried remains of Ralph Kasambara.

Writing on her Facebook account, Chikondi Kasambara said on Tuesday:

“Last spoke with Flora on Sunday before and after flying Ralph’s remains to Mzuzu. After narrating how challenging it was to land at Mzuzu Airport due to the weather nnamupopa kuti ndi dolo, she responded & I quote: ‘Mmm asi every flight is a new flight zilibe udolo’. Goodbye dear Flora. Thank you for the time we spend together.”

Chikondi Kasambara’s post
Winnie Nyondo’s post
Maggie Namizinga’s post

Winnie Nyondo, too, in a moving tribute to Chimangeni confirmed on, writing on her Facebook account: “Sleep well dear angel Chisomo Chimaneni.Mawu omaliza you sent a message 10:10am muli mu ndege kuti ‘Too much turbulence.’ Forever in our hearts Chisomo.”

Captain Flora: Complained of having troubles to land in Mzuzu

Further, in a moving public statement on Tuesday on the passing of Chilima and 8 others, wife to the fallen Ralph Kasambara, Maggie Namizinga—who had also flown in the same plane with the same crew on Sunday with remains of her husband—spoke of how they had been warned by the aircraft operators that if weather conditions at the destination airport were unfavorable for landing, they would simply return to the nearest airport, just as our flight on Sunday, June 9th had done.

“At 12:00 yesterday, as we awaited the final funeral procession in Nkhata Bay, we received confirmation from protocol that the Vice President, the Right Honorable Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima, had failed to land in Mzuzu and therefore would not be able to attend. Having used the exact same plane the day before to get to the Northern Region, we initially assumed that the aircraft had returned safely to Lilongwe. We had been warned by the aircraft operators that if weather conditions at the destination airport were unfavorable for landing, they would simply return to the nearest airport, just as our flight on Sunday, June 9th had done,” wrote Namizinga.

She further, in her tribute, added:

“We extend our heartfelt thanks to the MDF for their relentless efforts, working through the night under difficult weather conditions to recover the remains of our loved ones. People may express their opinions on social media, but we understand that this was no easy task, especially considering that many on that flight were men and women of honor who served their country with distinction. As a nation, we are at a loss for words. The sequence of events is just too untimely and tragic.”

The correspondence—between Winnie and late Chimangeni, and also Chikondi and late Captain Flora—read together with the statement from Namizinga does vindicate the explanation of terrible weather playing a critical role as the cause of the plane crash that killed the vice president, Chilima, former Bakili Muluzi’s ex-wife Shannil Dzimbiri and seven others.

The question that comes to the fore, then, is a roaring search for an answer as to who, against such terrible weather, gave the order for the flight, carrying the Vice President and eight others, to set off for Mzuzu.

Already, Nyasatimes has carried an inquiry which ascertain that the office of the Vice President may have broken protocol in how they secured the ill-fated plane.

According to the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) boss Valentino Phiri in his address on Thursday, a request came from the Principal Secretary in the Office of the Vice President, indicating that the late Vice President wished to fly to Mzuzu to attend the burial of the former Attorney General, Ralph Kasambara.

As a matter of procedure, though, the Office of the Vice President is supposed to make such a request to the Commander-in-Chief, in this case, President Lazarus Chakwera, through the Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC).

Once the President grants approval, the SPC contacts the Office of the Army Commander to ascertain the availability of the aircraft and to request its release for the Vice President’s use.

In this instance, it is clear that the procedure was deliberately breached, as officials in the Office of the Vice President knew that their boss was not delegated to represent the Government at the funeral.

Nyasa Times had also carried a story in this week quoting highly placed sources in the officie of the vice president saying the President had delegated Defence Minister and Malawi Congress Party Vice President, Hon. Harry Mlekanjala Mkandawire, to represent him and speak on behalf of the Government.

Further revelations from sources indicated that officials from the Vice President’s office pressured the MDF to release the aircraft despite being informed that it was chartered and that the weather conditions were not conducive for navigating and landing in the Northern Region.

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