MDF Commander Valentino Phiri calls for calm as regards to plane crash inquiry

General Valentino Phiri and Minister Kunkuyu during the press briefing

* MDF has consulted the Department of Civil Aviation to conduct a separate inquiry

* Apart from the one which will be conducted by the MDF for transparency and accountability

Maravi Express

Malawi Defence Force (MDF) Commander, General Valentino Phiri has urged the citizenry to remain calm as regards the inquiry into what caused the crash of the plane and to refrain from conspiracy theories which can cause discomfort in the country.


He said this this afternoon during a press briefing held at the Centre of Information (COI) in Lilongwe alongside Minister of Information & Digitalisation, Moses Kunkuyu, saying the MDF has consulted the Department of Civil Aviation to conduct a separate inquiry apart from the one which will be conducted by the MDF for transparency and accountability.

This follows growing calls from the public led by late Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s UTM Party demanding demanding an independent investigations into the MDF plane crash — joined by other stakeholders such as Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), are advancing for the involvement of international aviation experts.

Malawi Law Society (MLS) also has come in by quoting Part VII of the Civil Aviation Act in section 48-49 and Division 22 of the Defence Act that provides a detailed guideline to facilitate and guide air accident and incident investigation — which MLS recommends “must promptly be resorted to by all stakeholders in order to timely and legally address the legitimate questions arising from this plane crash”.

Meanwhile, Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) president Enoch Kamzingeni Chihana has written a petition to the Secretary General of the United Nations António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres calling for it, alongside SADC the African Union (AU), to support in having a proper closure on Monday’s plane crash accident.

Enoch Chihana

Copied to President Lazarus Chakwera; the UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi; Chief Justice Speaker of the National Assembly; AU chairperson & all Heads of State as well as all foreign diplomatic missions, Chihana asks the UN to first declare the plane crash site “as a crime scene, and therefore, protected from contamination through internationally delegated military personnel”.

Secondly, he is calling on the “SADC, the AU, and international community to do a thorough forensic investigation into the events surrounding the plane crash” that claimed the lives of Vice-President Saulos Chilima and eight others.

And thirdly, Chihana calls for “an urgent constitution of an internationally managed process of the Commission of Inquiry that should form part of the information gathering related to Vice-President Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima’s travel and other related arrangements”.

He enlightens the international community that AFORD “has received with shock, disbelief, and great sadness the news of the passing of Chilima and the eight other distinguished passengers on board the flight”.

During this afternoon’s press briefing, Minister Kunkuyu announced that the late Vice President’s body will lie in state at the Parliament building in Lilongwe tomorrow after being collected from Goodwill Funeral Services in the morning.

He announced that President Chakwera is expected to lead Malawians throughout the proceedings.

The Minister also announced that autopsies have been conducted on all bodies according to the wishes of the family members.

In the afternoon, President Chakwera presided over the send-off of late Patricia Shanil Dzimbiri, former First Lady of the Republic of Malawi, at Sunset Funeral Private Mortuary at Kanengo in Lilongwe and speaking on his behalf, Minister of Local Government, Unity & Culture, Richard Chimwendo Banda, said the President is in deep sorrow at Dzimbiri’s death.

“The late Dzimbiri was a dedicated and hard working woman who had interest in the empowerment of women and children in the country,” he said. “Her death is a big loss to Malawi; we have lost an important person as a nation.”

Requiem mass and prayers were conducted by the Catholic Church in respect of the fallen former First Lady that was attended by large crowd to pay their respect and witness the send-off.

Other dignitaries who attended the ceremony included former Presidents, Bakili Muluzi and Joyce Banda, former Chief Justice Richard Banda SC (retired), senior government officials, political representatives from various parties and religious leaders.

Born on September 25, 1964, Dzimbiri served as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Balaka West from 2014 to 2019 and her remains will be laid to rest at Senzani in Balaka on Friday.—Reporting by Malawi News Agency (MANA) & Maravi Express