June 14, this year, started like any other day at Joshua Village in Traditional Authority Malenga’s area in Ntchisi district.
Some villagers went to their respective fields to harvest maize while others were at home, going about routine household chores.
Little did they know what the day had in store for them.
Some hours later, one Clifford Chimtengo sprung from nowhere and stormed the village. He was carrying with him some medical drugs and syringes.
He introduced himself as a medical doctor and the unsuspecting villagers were elated with the hope of getting cured from various ailments.
The ‘saviour’ was here – or so some villagers thought.
Then panic and sorrow hung in the air, fear gripped the village.
Four people dropped unconscious. This occurred a few hours after the self-styled doctor had administered his drugs and injections on them.
They were all rushed to Ntchisi District Hospital, about ten kilometers away from the village. This was deep in the middle of the night, probably a symbolic moment when darkness is the doomsayer of death.
Liviness Kapolo, 81, died on admission at the hospital a day later.
She left behind nine grandchildren she was looking after ever since their mother got paralyzed, according to Kapolo’s son, Yohane.
The other three victims; Bizaliele Kapolo (Livinesi’s brother), 70, his wife Elise Kapolo, 63 and Yohane Chipokosa, 66, could be counted lucky as the powerful hand of grace and mercy fortified them from this misfortune.
“It was my first time to see the man in this village, some villagers said they were seeing him for the second time because he also came here three days before,” said Elise.
“He introduced himself as a medical doctor who used to work at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre before he retired. He settled in his home village near Khuwi Trading Centre here in Ntchisi,” she added.
The ‘doctor’ is said to have been charging K1, 500 for a single injection and K1, 000 for a ‘full dosage’ of tablets.
Some of the victims said they borrowed money from their colleagues in the village so they could pay him.
Chimtengo treated seven people in the village for various ailments. Ironically, he prescribed similar drugs and injections for all of them.
Ntchisi District Health Officer, Dr Zondwayo Ng’oma, said they discovered that the man had administered insulin injection, which is used for treating diabetic patients and diclofenac injection, which is used as pain killer as well as cefuroxime; an antibiotic used in kids.
Elise explained that after taking the medication, she started feeling dizzy while her heart was pounding and racing fast, causing difficulties in breathing.
“I went to sleep and cannot remember what happened later. I only realized that I was on a hospital bed at Ntchisi District Hospital where I was put on an oxygen machine and an intravenous drip.
“I learnt that four of us who had been treated by the man, including my husband, were also admitted at the hospital,” she said.
Village headman Joshua was the first to be approached by the bogus doctor. He refused treatment despite the ‘doctor’ offering it for free
The chief said this was the first time such a thing had happened in the village. He added that he personally did not believe the man’s claims.
One wonders, however, as to why the village head still allowed the self-acclaimed doctor to go ahead and treat his subjects in the village right under his watch.
But as fate has it, critical thinking and reasoning count for nothing when disaster is about to strike. Chimtengo, whose name literally means ‘big tree’, was about to fall hard on some unsuspecting lives.
Police in the district managed to arrest Chimtengo and recovered various drugs and medical equipment at his house in Mawalu Village in chief Malenga’s area.
Some of the drugs had expired in 2016.
District Commissioner for Ntchisi, James Manyetera, described the incident as regrettable.
He appealed to traditional leaders and other stakeholders to sensitize people on the need to visit established health facilities for treatment whenever they are sick.
“It is quite unfortunate that in this day and age, someone can just go to a community claiming that he is a doctor and people believe him,” Manyetera said.
Traditional Authority Nthondo said it is necessary that people should report to police whenever they come across such suspicious people in their area.
“We know these people; we live with them in our villages and know pretty well about what they do,” said Nthondo.
Meanwhile, it has been established that Chimtengo has never undergone any training as a medical doctor. Unconfirmed reports indicate that he once worked as a volunteer at a certain health facility in Dowa.
He is under police custody awaiting court appearance on a charge of murder.
The angel of death was here in Ntchisi. It took away the life of Liviness Kapolo.
The old woman’s case is a sad tale of a death that could have been prevented if the community was vigilant enough in appreciating the devastating consequences of seeking health assistance from individuals of questionable medical credentials.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :