Friday, September 25, 2009

'Excited' journalists warned on Chafukira

SO HELP ME GOD: The late youthful and smartly dressed Ishmael Chafukira being sworn-in as Member of Parliament for Lilongwe North West in June this year. Pic exclusively by Malawi Digest.

By Lucy Liponda

A leading human rights lawyer in Malawi has cautioned journalists over their overzealous reporting on the death of former Member of Parliament Ishmael Chafukira saying others may be taken to task when the dust settles.

The prominent lawyer who was speaking in his personal capacity to Malawi Digest was reacting to media reports both local and international on how the former opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson died on Sunday night.

Chafukira, who was campaigning for the resignation of MCP president John Zenus Ungapake Tembo, died mysteriously at South African hotel in the border town of Messina on Sunday night.

Both Malawi and South African investigators including highly trained doctors are probing into events that led to the death of this prominent youthful politician.

Preliminary results on the autopsy done on Chafukira’s body have yielded no results that would have led to the legislator’s death. Medical experts have described this development as very unusual.

Following Ishmael Chafukira’s death on Sunday, both the local and international media have been awash with reports that the deceased MP died in the company of a female traveller.

Some media organisations have gone further to conclude that the lady was Chafukira’s ‘lover’ and others described her as ‘girlfriend’.

Former president Bakili Muluzi’s agent based in Canada, Tom Likambale has been writing on internet discussion forums that Chafukira died of a sexually related disease popularly known in Malawi as Chitayo.

Likambale is not a medical doctor but a Law school student drop-out.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Malawi Digest on Friday afternoon, the prominent Malawi human rights lawyer cautioned overzealous journalists who are concluding matters on the death of Chafukira.

For example, the lawyer said that just because a woman was found to have been together Chafukira when he died, that alone does not say that the two were lovers.

“How can one conclude that she was a girlfriend or lover without having the evidence that the two shared intimacy?” he said.

The lawyer gave an example of former late President of the Republic of Malawi Ngwazi Dr H.Kamuzu Banda and former official hostess Mama Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira who for over 20 years spent time together without being husband and wife or proven to be lovers.

“Kamuzu and Mama were very close, travelled together to many countries world wide and slept in the same house but no body proved that these two were lovers or husband and wife,” he said.

The lawyer therefore cautioned against this form of journalism saying other media organisations may be forced to pay dearly when the dust for the funeral settles.

On the same wave length, the lawyer also warned against writing reports that are going to hurt the Chafukira family even more after losing their dearest relative.

“How can we read reports that Chafukira’s second wife was chased away from the funeral house in Area 25C only to have the same woman coming out in Friday’s The Nation newspaper saying she was not chased?” wondered the lawyer.

He asked journalists to report responsibly to avoid huge lawsuits that may cripple media organisations in future.

Malawi Digest has since established that the second wife is currently in Area 25C at Chafukira’s main house mourning her dear husband.

As a result of this irresponsible kind of reporting by some media organisations, the Chafukira family has stopped speaking to the media. They are only speaking to a selected few.

The lawyer also cautioned the media against rushing into conclusions on what killed Chafukira saying this is an exceptional case.

“If investigators said that they found nothing that killed Chafukira, this is an extraordinary case. Let Malawians wait and hear the real reason for his death which we hope may be found later,” he said.

The 43-year old opposition Malawi Congress Party legislator was in South Africa on private business and died mysteriously on his way back to Malawi.

South African investigators have since handed over his remains to Malawian authorities and his body if all goes according to Malawi National Assembly plans is expected back home in Malawi this weekend-Malawi Digest.


  1. inu musaopsyeze anthu............anthu alembe mmene akufunila basi, nde dzikolo. lawyer nd kuti cani? zautsilu basi. ma blog, forum ndi ambiri anthu alembe basi...............consipiracy inu simuiziwa??

  2. By the way from when is to have a girlfriend and a lover the same thing, this is what we irresponsible and baseless reporting. Tell the anonymous lawyer that he is out of order. so all these people having there views on the matter will be held responsible?

  3. whether they are warned or not but he die MOSADZIWIKA BWINO.Why the threat?DO U WANT PPO NOT TO REPORT WHEN THINGS ARE WRONG?Lawyers why do u just wait for such cooments?If u dont want them to report about such issues give them stories.MAWA NDI INU.