Major Selemani’s death a huge blow to MDF—Deputy Commander Jafu

* Training a pilot is not easy and takes a long time. As such, it will take long for us to recover

* She joined the MDF in November 1999 and was commissioned as an officer in 2015

* Over the years, she rose through the rank and file from Lieutenant to Captain up to Major

Maravi Express

Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Deputy Commander, Lieutenant General George Jafu said the gap that late Major Selemani Ngwirinji has left would take a long and difficult to fill.


He said this today in Thyolo during the funeral ceremony of Major Selemani, who until her death was a pilot of the MDF plane that crashed on Monday killing all on board including Vice-President Saulos Chilima, former First Lady Madame Patricia Shanil Dzimbiri and 7 others.

Lieutenant General Jafu described Major Selemani as a well-experienced pilot, who served President Lazarus Chakwera with honours as well as high-level visitors from across the world.

He described her untimely death as a huge blow to the defence force, saying: “Training a pilot is not easy and takes a long time. As such, it will take long for us to recover.”

Late Selemani joined the MDF in November 1999 and was commissioned as an officer in 2015. Over the years, she rose through the rank and file from Lieutenant to Captain up to Major.

She served as base operation & training officer, Wing Commander as well as base flight safety officer.

She died along with Major Wales Aidini, her aeroplane technician whose funeral was attended by Ministers of Energy and Trade, Ibrahim Matola and Sosten Gwengwe respectively MDF soldiers and a multitude of people at Chiwalo Village, Traditional Authority Nankumba in Mangochi.

In his eulogy, Land Forces Commander, Major General Chikunkha Soko said Aidini was a dedicated as well as committed soldier, who joined the military in 2001 and later did a number of aircraft engineering courses.

“Due to his hard work and education, Wales was promoted in 2017 as Captain and in 2020 as Major. He had four medals [of honour] to his credit and worked under the United Nations in Côte d’Ivoire and in DRC. We have lost an icon,” he said.

On his part, Gwengwe described the Chikangawa tragedy as a big loss to the country, as it has taken away very productive citizens and he attested that Aidini is a fallen hero, who died in service of his country.

“Personally, I have traveled in that plane for in so many occasions,” he said of the plane that remains a wreckage. “Apart from that, I was with the Vice-President and some of our departed friends in South Korea just a few hours before the accident.

“As such, I am very confused as it is so painful and difficult to believe that our colleagues are no longer with us,” the Minister said, while urging the communities to exercise patience and restraint but wait for the results of the investigation of what really happened leading to the plane crash.

Minister Gwengwe

“You will appreciate the fact that President Chakwera has made a directive on the launch of an investigation that will lead to the establishment of what really happened. As such, let us exercise patience while we are waiting for results of that investigation,” he said.

Member of Parliament for Mangochi-Monkey Bay, Ralph Jooma said he was at a loss of words at the death of Aidini, whom he described as a brother: “Among the children we considered as educated in our area was Wales. It is so painful.

“I just received an invitation to their family function in the coming months. But as of now, he is no longer with us. With that, we are speechless,” Jooma added.

Born on February 16, 1981, Aidini is survived by a wife and five children.

Meanwhile, President Lazarus Chakwera and First Lady Madam Monica Chakwera led the nation in mourning the Vice-President Saulos Chilima at Abwenzi Funeral Parlour where it was collected ahead of Requiem Mass at St Patrick Catholic Parish in Area 18 for a ceremony.

Later after the mass, the remains of Vice President Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima will be taken to his official residence in Area 12.

At a press briefing prior to the ceremony, Minister of Information, Moses Kunkuyu the body of Chilima would be taken to Parliament tomorrow until Sunday morning where the President will join procession to Bingu National Stadium in Area 48 where there will be different activities to honour the late Vice-President.

Burial will take place on Monday at his home village for burial at Nsipe in Ntcheu.

In Ntchisi, remains of Malawi Police Inspector, Chisomo Chimaneni, who was Chilima’s aide-de-camp (ADC) — and died along with the Vice-President’s guard commander, Assistant Commissioner, Lucas Kapheni  — was accorded military honours yesterday in his Makwaule Village Senior Chief Chilooko.

Present was Minister of Homeland Security, Ken Zikhale Ng’oma, who was in the company of Minister of Agriculture, Sam Kawale, who described late Chimaneni as a “patriotic hero who died serving his country”.

“His death is a big loss to the country, to his district, and to me personally as Minister of Homeland Security because it is devoted young ones like these that who should take over these positions we hold as we are aging towards retirement.”

Present was Legislator for Ntchisi North Constituency, Arnold Kadzanja who described late Chimaneni as a personal friend who inspired and encouraged him to rise above average heights.

“When he heard of my ambition to represent my constituency as MP, he called me personally and encouraged me against any form of discouragement. His death is a great loss to Ntchisi as a district, Ntchisi North as a constituency, and to me as a personal friend.”

In his eulogy, Senior Chief Chilooko echoed Kadzanja, saying it was heartbreaking to experience the loss of young ones like Chimaneni “but there are some things we have no control over and all we can do is look up to God because He knows best.”—Reporting by Yamikani Yapuwa, Naomi Langisi, Bishop Witmos & James Mwale, MANA