* The gruesome discovery of the mass grave attracted massive attention by both the local and international media
* Peter Mutharika joined in to censure the government for not releasing the results of the investigations
* Preliminary results of the postmortem of the Ethiopians show they all died of suffocation
* The DPP believes that all authorities involved in this matter will accord Tadikira a speedy, fair and equitable legal process
* Without any political undertones or any other form of prejudice
By Duncan Mlanjira
Days after former president Peter Mutharika chastised the government’s law enforcement machinery for dragging to inform the public progress of the discovery of a mass grave last month in Mzimba — containing 30 bodies believed to be Ethiopian immigrants — the police announced the arrest of Mutharika’s stepson, Tadikira Mafubza as being linked to the case.
The gruesome discovery attracted massive attention by both the local and international media and Mutharika joined in to censure the government for not releasing the results of the investigations — whose preliminary results of the postmortem of the Ethiopians show they all died of suffocation.
Now the police arrested Tadikira Mafubza last Wednesday — charged with two counts, including murder alongside four accomplices; David Luhanga, Thomas Gidson, Samuel Navaya and Duncan Kalulu.
Tadikira appeared before the Lilongwe Chief Magistrate’s Court where he was also been charged with aggravated human trafficking and the case has since been referred to the High Court in Mzuzu.
Tadikira and the other suspects remain in police custody as the Magistrate said it is only the High Court which can grant bail and spent the weekend behind bars.
However, Peter Mutharika’s-led Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) again faults the government on the “detention” now that it involves Tadikira, saying he handed himself to National Police Headquarters at Area 30 in Lilongwe on Wednesday, November 23 “after he was summoned to report there”.
The DPP says Tadikira — accompanied by his lawyer Gilbert Khonyongwa — discovered that he was suspected to be connected with the “human trafficking case involving the dead bodies of suspected illegal immigrants found buried in a mass grave at Tangatanga Forest in Mzimba”.
“The police informed Tadikira that the vehicle which was allegedly involved in ferrying the illegal immigrants belong to him,” says the statement from the DPP, released by spokesperson, Shadric Namalomba.
“The police informed Tadikira that his driver, Samuel Naveya had since been arrested and was in custody in Mzuzu. Tadikira was immediately put under arrest awaiting the arrival of the driver who was in police custody in Mzuzu.”
Namalomba reveals that Tadikira was later that night transferred to Namitete Police Station in Mchinji, awaiting the arrival of the driver [and] when the police from the North arrived with the driver, they interrogated Tadikira and obtained a caution statement in which Tadikira acknowledged that he owns the vehicle in question, a Scania van.
“Tadikira told the Police that he knew nothing regarding the alleged trafficking of illegal immigrants. He further told the Police that he had no idea that his vehicle was allegedly involved in any illegal acts, but that he had also only read on social media and the print media about the discovery of a mass grave of illegal immigrants in Mzimba and that he had absolutely no idea that his driver or his motor vehicle was involved or linked to this heinous act.”
Namalomba further says the police also confronted the driver, Naveya, who told them that while he had been engaged to drive Tadikira’s motor vehicle, he was not a salaried employee of Tadikira, but that he had been engaged as a driver on commission and to do lawful business only.
He said such arrangement is a common business practice amongst transporters and vehicle owners where owners of vehicles give vehicles to drivers with fixed weekly, fortnightly or monthly targets.
The DPP contends that Naveya also “confirmed to the police under caution that Tadikira was never informed or aware or in any way involved in the alleged ferrying of the alleged illegal immigrants”.
“Despite such exoneration, the police proceeded to charge Tadikira with the alleged offence of human trafficking and prepared him to appear before the Magistrate’s Court at Lilongwe.
“However, when the police took Tadikira to the Magistrate’s Court at Lilongwe, Tadikira was instead charged with the offence of murder and the Chief Resident Magistrate subsequently committed him to the High Court of Malawi in Mzuzu.
“The DPP firmly stands with Tadikira and His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, former President of Malawi and Her Excellency Madame Gertrude Mutharika, former First Lady of Malawi, during this trying moment.
“The DPP believes in the rule of law, fairness and equity in dealing with all legal matters [and] believes that all authorities involved in this matter will accord Tadikira a speedy, fair and equitable legal process and treatment without any political undertones or any other form of prejudice.
“The DPP further believes that Tadikira will be treated on the basis of the facts gathered by the police and any other witnesses, and not based on any other extraneous matters unrelated to the matters at hand,” says Namalomba in the statement.