AN EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING

Did Flames star-cum-police officer murder a college student? Or just failed to prevent mob justice?

Schumacher Kuwali - At the centre of it all

BY PIJ INVESTIGATIONS

Warning: This article contains a picture that is graphic, which some readers may find disturbing.

Tadala Paul Nkhoma was born 22 years ago in a not-so-rich family in Salima. As a result of his status, just like many Malawian youths born without privilege and status, he had no choice but to work hard towards bettering his future. Tadala’s preferred route to his desirable future was football, where his boundless energy and passion saw him excel in non-league competitions, hoping one day he could turn professional.

But he was smart and pragmatic enough to know that not all dreams come true. So, he had a fallback plan. And this plan B was medicine. After failing to enroll in the University of Malawi, he found solace in studying at Progressive Health Institute in Lilongwe, living with his uncle in Area 25 township, an hour’s drive away from the school.

But football was what satisfied his soul. So, his daily routine started early – either on the road for endurance, jogging along the Area 25 neighbourhood, or at the football ground, where three months after arriving from Salima, he had become a household name. He also watched a lot of football on television, perhaps, to steal a trick or two from the very best in the game. For his family, this was Tadala’s life.

“He was a trusted young man, quite friendly,” explains his uncle, Steven Master.

The family describes Tadala as humble and down to earth. 

The late Tadala Paul Nkhoma in his better days

“He was not a kid one would suspect or accuse of trouble-making, particularly stealing. One doesn’t just wake up one day and get into robberies at an old age, often people start while young and with small things, but he had no such record. He was someone you could trust with money or send on errands.”

Born in Traditional Authority Mwanza in Salima district, Tadala was supposed to grow into a pillar of his family. His father died tragically last year after being hit by a car. 

On 16 March, on an easy Sunday morning, Tadala played his last game of football, a social football match at Dzenza in Area 25… He returned to Nsungwi and joined friends at the nearby bars to watch football on television.

Flames and Blue Eagles star Kingsley Schumacher Kuwali was born to play football, too. According to TransferMarket, a football website that profiles professional footballers, he was born on 27th June 1996. (Footballers’ ages should always be treated with caution.)  

His father, Schubert Kuwali, played in goals for years in the Super League –Malawi’s elite football competition – for the now defunct MHC, MDC United, and Wanderers FC but was always on the fringes of the Malawi national team, selected several times but never made it into the final playing team in an era of great goalkeeping talents such as John Dzimbiri, Ganizani Masiye, Donnex Gondwe, George Waya, and others.  

Like most ex-players, the senior Kuwali would later venture into coaching, first at his ex-club MDC before coaching the Police-sponsored outfit Blue Eagles, the team which his son would eventually captain.

The late Kuwali named his son Schumacher after Harald Anton ‘Toni’ Schumacher, goalkeeping great for West Germany whom he idolised. Like many sons of ex-pros, becoming a footballer was challenging but also carried a sense of inevitability. 

And it is fair to say, it is a challenge Schumacher has more than met. Now an established national team star (he missed out on the Flames’ recent Africa Cup of Nations heroic campaign after suffering an injury just days before the start of the tournament during a training camp in Saudi Arabia), capable both on the left side of the midfield and upfront, the younger Kuwali has represented the country at almost all age groups of the national team and played professionally in Mozambique, plying his trade at UD Songo.

Football, however, is a short-term career and in Malawi, where most players do not receive hefty salaries like their European colleagues, players have to think of plan B—something that made Schumacher pursue. For Schumacher, the security came in the form of permanent employment as a Police officer.

Like Flames captain John ‘CJ’ Banda, and other players who are also men in uniform, when an opportunity to play professionally arose, the Police service allowed him to join the club. He returned to Malawi during the season and resumed his employment in the Malawi Police Service and Blue Eagles football club. So far, the season has gone well. As skipper, he has seen the team rise to the top of the table for the majority of the early part of the season. 

On 16 March 2022, Schumacher was coming from a football game when he passed by his usual drinking places—first at the Officer’s Mess at the Police Headquarters and then Pa Memory—to quench his thirst when an innocent night turned ugly. He drove to the bar with a few but unspecified Blue Eagles players.

Between 10 pm and 11 pm, according to accounts we have heard from various eyewitness accounts of those connected to the story that ensued, as Schumacher and friends made merry inside the bar, a guard saw a man come out of one of the cars at the car park but assumed he was the owner. Some thirty minutes or so later, Schumacher went out of the bar to visit the bathroom outside and, upon returning, went to his car, in search of something.

The guard reported the earlier incident to Schumacher —about seeing a man come out of the car carrying a bag. The man, the guard told him, had donned a striped shirt. The guard pointed in the direction of the supposed burglar. Upon which Schumacher headed there with his car.

WARNING DISTURBING PICTURE

A Helpless Tadala after being hacked and bleeding to his death in full view of fellow human beings

A few people who witnessed the incident are willing to come forward on exactly what happened next. More so, on record. Several witnesses who have spoken to investigators have changed their recount of the event several times. 

Police are also accused of tampering with both evidence and witnesses, according to those familiar with the official investigation. After Police visited several of the eyewitnesses, including some, PIJ has spoken to, they are refusing to name the people who participated in what turned out to be a brutal murder.

A few, have come forward and all named Schumacher and a few friends to have been involved, allegedly, in the hacking to death of Tadala Nkhoma. (PIJ could not independently verify the account)

According to eyewitnesses, and those who heard Schumacher’s initial account of the incident during the night, after he was notified of the break-in into his car, he drove towards where the ‘thief’ had gone following the directions the guard had shown, brandishing a machete he took from one of the guards.

Subsequently, the Police officer found Tadala walking along the road, carrying the bag that was allegedly missing from his car. Convinced that he had his ‘suspect’, Schumacher stopped the car, pretended that he wanted to take a pee, and tripped Tadala from behind. The two men—connected by football and fate—wrestled on the ground. Schumacher’s version is that Tadala produced a panga and wanted to hack him, but he overpowered him and snatched the panga. Upon successfully getting hold of the machete, he ordered his ‘prisoner’ to get into his car and drove back to the bar. Apparently, they also found a screwdriver on him. Here, there were numerous witnesses. But the story remains murky. Details are hazy.

According to one account, Schumacher announced to his colleagues inside the bar, reportedly, a few teammates from Blue Eagles, that he had caught the ‘thief’ after the guards confirmed Tadala to be the ‘thief’ they had seen earlier.

One of the key witnesses of the events is Memory Mhango, the owner of Pa Memory bar. But Memory has changed her recollection of events multiple times, according to those familiar with an official investigation into the matter. 

Voice recordings and text messages that she sent to people after the incident, which were collected by investigators and some of which the PIJ has listened to, are different from what she told the official investigation or the PIJ.

Essentially, it also contradicts crucial aspects of Schumacher’s own version, particularly, the alleged use of a panga knife and screwdriver by Tadala. According to one of Memory’s versions, Schumacher found the panga on Tadala and used it to hack him. When Schumacher overpowered Tadala, according to Memory, he snatched the panga and threatened Tadala with it, but never used it. He then ordered Tadala to walk in the direction of the bar, where a mob then severely assaulted him.

“As he approached the ‘thief’, he tripped him from behind, [anamumenya stones], and the way Schumacher explains the incident, is that the guy had a panga knife on him, so the guy attacked him with the panga here (pointing to head) and because he was strong, he managed to snatch the panga and ordered the guy to walk back to the shops,” she told PIJ, at a bar in Senti—a shanty township between Area 18 B and Area 25. 

Others accuse Memory of attempting to shield Schumacher —a regular customer at her bar in Area 25 and a reported close friend of hers.

Tadala’s family, too, has a different version, which mostly is based on third-hand accounts. Tadala, the family was told by police, had the panga (something the family strongly doubts) when Schumacher confronted him.

According to Memory’s version, Schumacher brought Tadala to the guard, who confirmed his identity. Then Schumacher asked the guard to ask his friends and other people in the bar to come and join them, as he had caught a thief. The mob started beating Tadala, but Memory asked them to stop. “It’s me who asked them to stop. I said, “A thief doesn’t work alone, let’s find out who else was involved, then the situation becomes tense,” she said.

Memory has videos of the mob interrogating Tadala. It’s a heart wrecking video. Tadala is being hacked using the panga.

“He was beaten up so much that even when Martin Gulile[an alleged accomplice of Tadala] came, he couldn’t say anything,” Memory told PIJ. 

Above: screenshot, as well as part of the footage of a man hacking Tadala Nkhoma, was obtained by PIJ

Schumacher was not involved in the mob justice, according to Memory, because he was hurt and bleeding after being hacked by the panga.  “He was bleeding, we told him to go to the hospital, but he refused,” she told PIJ in an interview. She says she did not know how to use the panga.

Any person familiar with those in the video or pictures that have surfaced can easily identify the people hacking Tadala, most likely regulars at the bars, a worker, or one of the owners. Mysteriously, police say no one has so far been identified.

Schumacher–a Police sub-inspector at the sports department at National Police Headquarters in Lilongwe—has a different version, too. When he jumped into his car, he did not carry any weapon nor did he confiscate any weapon from Tadala. Not even a screwdriver, which police say was found on Tadala.

While arriving at the bar, he saw Tadala close to the bar on the roadside. He was with two other friends (Trevor Kalima and Ben Manyozo, both footballers) and saw Tadala passing in front of their car, pretending to be drunk. 

Kuwali says he saw Tadala trying to open one parked car and which he failed to do before moving to try to open another car and fail again. Schumacher says he did not do anything and just dismissed the incident as “zakumowa” (things that happen at drinking places) and proceeded to treat himself and his friends to a drink at Memory’s place.

Crime scene. Memory’s bar in Area 25, Lilongwe

Later on, he went outside to make a private call, but as he walked out of the bar, a young man started talking to him, but he ignored him because he suspected he was one of the workers at the bar – trying to inquire about an empty bottle. But the guy persisted and followed him to the car and explained how a certain person had been seen earlier coming out of the car and pointed in the direction he had headed.

Schumacher followed the directions the person had gone to, on foot.

“I found him and he had my bag. I came from behind and grabbed him. He then hit my head. I don’t know what he used, but we grappled and pushed each other into the water drainage system on the road. We started struggling in the water drainage, and the guy who notified me about the theft saw us and alerted other people. They came and people almost beat me up because I had blood and suspected I could be the thief. People started beating him and I realized I couldn’t stop more than 10 people. I went to cross-check the things missing in my car and found that there was an extra battery missing, ATMs, and cash amounting to 70,000 kwacha,” Schumacher recalls.

He said, later on, he could hear people asking the apprehended man questions and one of the accused’s accomplices came to the scene and rejected being part of the robbery. Schumacher says he then later went to Nsungwi Police to report the incident, where he was told to go to a hospital for treatment.

Schumacher Kuwali – At the centre of it all

Schumacher says he never saw the panga Tadala was carrying and says he never touched any panga, too.  He also never saw the mob using the panga against Tadala. About the screwdriver, he says he only saw it from the Police file, and it was shown to him via a phone. He says Police told him the screwdriver was found at a bar, but he does not know who brought it there. Schumacher also confirmed that he did not report the incident to the police and does not know who reported the matter.

“It was difficult to stop the people, I was the only police officer on the scene,” he says, confessing he did not even consider calling the Police with his condition “only allowing him to call his wife.”

He, however, has one regret, he tells PIJ. “I rue the fact that when I confronted him, we did not understand each other.”  

But others have told PIJ and investigators, that Schumacher obtained the panga from one of the guards and pursued Tadala with it. According to some witness accounts, Schumacher led the interrogation of Tadala when he was apprehended and shouted while hacking Tadala “If I start beating a thief, I don’t stop.”  

(The PIJ could not independently verify the witnesses’ accounts.)

According to Schumacher’s own words, Police phoned him the next morning to inquire about him killing a person. But police have not carried out any investigation since and referred the matter to the newly formed Independent Complaints Commission (ICC). Schumacher has not been suspended from work pending investigation, and Tadala’s family suspects a cover-up.

(The official police account is that in the area where the incident happened, there had been a spate of robberies from motor vehicles, which police were investigating. Schumacher was allegedly informed by the watchman that he had seen an unidentified person entering his car where he had parked and that the person was walking towards Nsungwi. It is further alleged that Schumacher followed him and, upon finding him, confronted him. In the course of the altercation, the suspect injured Schumacher in the head with a sharp object. It is further alleged that the guard called for assistance to help in apprehending the suspect and that people who had come started assaulting Mr. Tadala Nkhoma (now deceased).)

Police, according to Tadala’s family, made no effort to identify the victim and inform his family. When Tadala’s uncle was informed the following morning that Tadala had not returned home, they made inquiries among his friends, who reported the incident at Memory’s bar. The family started making Police inquiries, but no nearby police station had him in their custody.

…Study says over 28 suspected criminals killed

One Killing, too many

The circumstances in the brutal murder of Tadala Nkhoma highlights human rights adherence challenges in Malawi Police Service despite years of advocacy and investment in police reformatory programme since the country emerged from the brutal one-party era where extrajudicial killings including of the then ruling party’s political regimes were an order of the day.

According to an investigative report by Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), a human rights non-governmental organization, on an investigation into various allegations of extrajudicial killings, between 2016 and 2022, the organisation chronicled 28 extrajudicial killings of various suspects of various crimes by the police.

In most cases reviewed by CHREAA researchers, no action was taken by police, families were deprived of the right to access postmortem results, police barely took an effort to inform the families of the death of their loved ones, and no police officer was ever taken to account for the deaths of those responsible.

“The study found that 28 of the alleged victims were shot by the police in very suspicious circumstances, three were alleged to have died in a road accident, although two of those also had gunshot wounds, one person was found alive, and two of the alleged victims’ families not willing to give information. Twenty alleged victims, on the inception list provided, remain unidentified. There were also 14 victims that were identified, but their families were not interviewed because of the time and resource limitations of the study,” reads the report.

The challenge, however, is that police cannot investigate police, often.

Victor Mhango – CHREAA Executive Director
Music great Evison Matafale died in police custody

And it’s the reason why the Independent Complaints Commission (ICC), was established under Section 128 of the Police Act as a separate and independent Institution within the Malawi Government to investigate cases police are not able to investigate, especially those involving the police officers themselves.

“So far the Commission has received 124 complaints on misconduct ranging from police brutality, unlawful wounding,  death or injury in police custody theft, unlawful detention, irregular/unlawful use of firearms, bribery, and corruption, rape/indecent assault, negligence, and procrastination/inaction. 25 of these are under investigation and 5 cases have been recommended for dismissal, while 3 have been recommended for criminal prosecution,” ICC Commissioner Chris Tukula told the PIJ this week.

Christopher Tukula – ICC Boss

After investigations, the ICC can make recommendations to the Minister, the Police Service Commission, the Inspector General, or any other appropriate authority on any findings of an investigation.  

“I am not surprised because the officers who were involved (in past incidents) were not punished, and they are still serving. It is unfortunate that the victims’ families were not compensated and no one is feeling their pain,” CHREAA Executive Director Victor Mhango told PIJ in an interview when asked about PIJ’s latest investigation into the death of Tadala Nkhoma.   

Here is the full list of suspected criminals CHREAA discovered were murdered by the police: 

  1. Richard Magala, 25, died in 2016

He was shot by Limbe police officers in the leg, rib and his neck was twisted. His relations were, however, not willing to give more details of the circumstances of his death.

2. Mathews Chimombo, 40, died Aug/Sept 2016

He was arrested by Limbe police and a day after the arrest; the family was told by the police that he had died. The Police told the family that they found him going to Chilomoni Township to collect a gun from a friend and during his attempt to escape, they shot him. His body was left at  Queen Elizabeth mortuary, where it was collected for burial. The body had no wounds on it, and no further action was taken by the family.

3. Trust Siyani, 36,  died 30th Sept 2017

He received a call from Blantyre police that he should go in for questioning. When he got to Blantyre police station, he was arrested. He spent two days in custody; his wife visited for the two days. When she went on the third day, she was told that her husband wasn’t there; she should go check at Queen Elizabeth mortuary. She went with family members of the deceased, and it was confirmed that Trust Siyani was shot dead by Blantyre police. The family tried following the matter but to no avail. No further action was taken.

 4. Samson Phiri, 40, died on 23rd Dec 2013 

The police alleged that he had been on a wanted list, and he was arrested at work. He was taken to the bush and shot in the leg and taken to Limbe police station. The following morning, the family heard rumours that he had been shot and killed by the police. The family was told by the police to identify his body at Queen Elizabeth Hospital mortuary, where his body was found. No further action was taken by the family.

5. Mavuto Taipi, 32,  died on 25th Oct 2016 

He received a call from CID officers from Muloza police that he was suspected of keeping Pakistani-armed robbers at his home. After one hour, the family received a call from Muloza CID Officer informing them that Mavuto was arrested by Area 30 Lilongwe police and that he was dead. He was arrested at one of the garages in Lilongwe whilst fixing his car. He was shot three times in the back. The family was told to identify his body at Kamuzu Central Hospital, where they collected his body, but no further action was taken by the family.

6. Christopher Mulomba, 34, died 12th May 2018 

He was a vegetable vendor who went to Ntcheu district for business. He was reportedly shot by police at Lizulu. Christopher, together with his 6 friends, was dropped off from a minibus from Blantyre when they were surrounded by the police, arrested, and carried in a police vehicle. While in transit, not far from where they were apprehended, the police started assaulting them with rifles and then later the police shot all 6. The shooting allegedly happened in broad daylight. The police allegedly received a tip-off that the six people were coming to Ntcheu with a mission to rob. The family collected Christopher’s remains at Ntcheu District Hospital Mortuary, but the family did not report the matter anywhere because they felt it was too sensitive, and no further action was taken. 

7. Katandika Samuel, 23, died in April 2018

The family was told by Blantyre Police to go to Queen Elizabeth Hospital to collect the body of Katandika. They did not know anything prior to the death. A police officer from Blantyre police (name withheld) admitted to shooting the victim as a way of preventing him from running away. He was shot in the shoulder and had a swollen head and stitches on the whole of the right side of his ribs. The family did not inquire for more details, they were not provided with any medical report, and no further action was taken.

8. Manfred Nkulichi, 37, died Sept 2017 

He was arrested by Area 23 Police in Lilongwe together with another man who worked with him at a car garage. The next morning, the family was told that he had been moved to Area 3 police. When the family inquired at Area 3, Lilongwe Police Station, they were told to go to Kamuzu Central Hospital Morgue to identify his body. At the mortuary, they found Manfred’s body. He had a bullet wound to the rib. The family took the body for burial, but did not take further action. At the time of his death he had the sum of over Two Million Malawi Kwacha, and a motor vehicle, Registration Number BK992, registered in his brother’s name, which was taken by the police. When the family inquired about these things from the police in Area 23, the police arrested Manfred’s brother and detained him for two weeks.  The family has not received the money or car back, and no further action was taken.

9. Kenneth Nanthambwe, 27, died 26th June 2016

It was alleged that he was involved in housebreaking with a friend. Whilst in the act of committing the offence, the neighbours woke up and called the police. When the police (Blantyre/Limbe) came, there was an exchange of fire. Kenneth was inside the house and when he ran outside, he was shot together with his friend Evance. He was shot in the head and chest. The family collected his body at Queen Elizabeth Hospital for burial, but no further action was taken.

10. Abdul Aziz Taulo, (date of death not known)

He was arrested by Zomba police. He was then transferred to Blantyre police as the family was told that he was wanted by Blantyre Police. The family reported the arrest to a lawyer (Name Withheld) who, when he went to Blantyre Police Station, was told that Abdul was killed by the police. After two days, the family was told to go to Queen Elizabeth Hospital morgue to identify his body. When the family inquired why he was killed, they were told that the police were looking for a gun, so they arrested him to find the whereabouts of the gun, and while in a police vehicle, he jumped out of a moving vehicle.  No further action was taken by the family.

11. Maxwell Magido, died 2nd May 2018

He was arrested in Limbe at a drinking joint by Limbe police officers. The following day after his arrest, an officer from Muloza police (Name Withheld) called his home, informing relatives that Maxwell had been killed and that his body was at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital mortuary. When the family went to Limbe police to make some inquiries, the police refused to have any knowledge of the same. But later they were given a letter to check at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital mortuary. The body was found with bleeding from the mouth and nose. After the burial, the family went back to Queen Elizabeth to collect the victim’s post-mortem report, but the doctors refused to give him any report and no reasons were given for the refusal. 

12. Wyson Kupoliwa, 25, died 5th Feb 2018 

The family was told by two police officers (names withheld) from Bangwe or Chikunda Police Station, that he was shot and killed by the police. He was shot in the back, had a broken neck, his body was very dirty, and he had broken legs. The family did not share any more information

13. Assan Jali, died in Oct 2016

Assan was arrested at his mother’s house at night (he had no clothes on when he was arrested). He was taken to Kabula Police station together with his brother. When the family went to visit him, they were told he had passed away and his body was at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He was in custody for two days. He was shot in the head. His brain matter was coming out through his nose. His body was later collected at Queen Elizabeth Hospital mortuary for burial, and no further action was taken.

14. Patrick Ben, 53, died 24th Dec 2009 

The family of Patrick was told by Chikunda Police in Bangwe, Blantyre that he was shot and killed when he was trying to escape after being arrested by the police. The family suspects one police officer (name withheld) to be responsible for Patrick’s death. His Medical report was withheld by the police at Chikunda, but they alleged that the deceased had fallen from a police vehicle in an attempt to escape. He had a bullet wound to his head at the time of his death. No further action was taken by the family.

15. Robert Mauzu, 29, died 1st May 2018

He was arrested by Luchenza Police Officers and two days later, the family was told that he was shot and killed by the police. He had bullet wounds to the neck and stomach, and his neck was broken. His family did not take further action.

16. Livison Mlonga, 47, died 24th Aug 2017

He was arrested by Chilomoni Police Officers on his way to church with his wife and children. He was beaten up and forced into a police vehicle. Two days later, the family heard from Blantyre Police Officers that he had been shot dead because he was escaping from police custody. The family was advised to go to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital to collect his body. He was shot in the stomach. The family did not take any further action. 

17. Phillip Humba, died in 2017

He had gone missing for a month and his family searched for him in a number of police stations to no avail. They finally found his body at Kamuzu Central Hospital Mortuary. The mortuary attendant told the family that he was brought in by Lilongwe Police Officers. When the family went to Lilongwe Police, they were told that he stole a car and gone to Mozambique. He was then arrested by Mozambique Police and later handed over to Malawi police. The police claimed to have shot him as he was attempting to escape. He had one bullet wound to the neck, another on the chest, a deep cut to the mouth, and a clip bandage on the leg. The family did not take any further action after his burial.

18. Robert Difuleya, 44, died in July 2016

His family was told by the Police in Liwonde that he was shot by the police in Liwonde. He had four bullet wounds to his head. The family did not take any further action.

19. Ramsy Jiya, 35,  died 7th May 2015

The family received a call from the police that he was arrested by Lilongwe Police Officers. When the family went to Lilongwe Police Area 3, they were told that there was an exchange of fire between him and the police and that he was shot dead. He had several gunshot wounds. No further action was taken by the family after his burial.

20. Nuli Sesani, 45, died 23rd March 2016

Limbe Police Officers arrested him at home when he was sitting and chatting with his family. Three days later, his family was told by Limbe Police Officers to collect his body at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He had several gunshot wounds in the back. No further action was taken by the family.

21. Steve Kachulu (date of death not known)

Steve had called his family, alerting them that he was arrested by Blantyre Police. When the family went to see him at the station, they did not find him. The family then got a call from the wife of another victim that Steve and her husband had been shot and killed by the police. They were told by a fellow victim’s wife to go identify their bodies at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Mortuary.  He had two gunshot wounds in the head and one in the stomach. A post-mortem was done by Dr. Kamoto but the report was not shared with the family. After the burial, the family reported the matter to the Malawi Human Rights Commission. According to an officer at the Commission, they inquired from Blantyre Police about the circumstances of Steve’s death, and they were informed that he was killed in a shoot-out with the police. There were efforts by the Commission to get the postmortem report, but that was not successful and there have not been any follow-ups. 

22. Edwin Lungu, 38, died 4th May 2018

The family was told by Ntcheu police that he was shot dead in an exchange of fire with police officers. He was shot in the stomach, and had a cut on the forehead and a deep cut around his left ear. The family collected his body at Ntcheu Mortuary. No further action was taken.

23. Precious Kalilombe, 28, died 29th Dec 2015

He was arrested on 28th December 2015 by the police in Mbayani market in Blantyre. His family looked for him at all police stations in Blantyre, but could not find him. On the following day, a police officer from Ndirande Police Station (name withheld) called the family and told them that he had been shot and killed by the police and that his body was at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Mortuary. The family identified his body at the Mortuary. According to the family, he had a gunshot wound to the back with burnt marks on the wound (it also appeared like an object had been squeezed through the wound), a broken arm and ribs, the tattoo on his right arm was burnt off, he had deep cuts to the head and face. At the hospital, the family asked for a postmortem report, and they were told that a report was already done and was given to the police. They asked for a copy of the report, but the hospital refused, insisting that they should get the report from the police. The family reported the issue to CHREAA.

24. Ashie Blow Daiton, 30, died on 21st June 2018

He had gone missing for weeks after he had received a phone call from an unknown person, and he left his place of business to meet the caller. Some prisoners at Chichiri Prison alleged that Ashie was killed by Blantyre Police Officers and that his body was at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Mortuary. The family identified his body at the mortuary. His death report indicates that he died of gunshot wounds and severe haemorrhage. At the time of his death, he had over MK2,000,000.00 which was proceeds from a sale of his car(A Nissan Tiida) and his cellphone, which the family never recovered from the police. When the family inquired from the Police what had happened to Ashie Blow, they were told that he was shot in Zomba by the Police when he was in an act of robbery. The family was shocked to hear that he was involved in an alleged robbery because all his life, he has never been suspected or arrested for any crime. The family also asked for a postmortem report at the Hospital, but they were told that it was given to Blantyre Police, who refused to give the report to the family. The family reported the case to CHREAA.

25. Mikayele Zakayele, 22, died March  2018

The family heard from neighbours that he was killed a few days after being arrested by Kabula police and handed over to Blantyre police on allegations that he stole a Cellphone. The family identified his body at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Mortuary. He was shot in the head and chest, and his head was swollen. His genitals had also been cut off, and he had several wounds on his body. The family did not take any further action.

A day later, a Police officer at Nsungwi Police Unit in Area 25, told them that the missing person they were looking for had been taken to Kamuzu Central Hospital by Kanengo Police Station but did not have any police statement as he was beaten up too badly to speak. At the hospital, they were told Tadala was brought to the hospital in the early hours of 14th March but did not receive treatment as he died shortly upon arrival at the hospital.

Because it was at night, the hospital asked the family to return the next day with police to identify the body. In the morning, they went to Nsungwi Police Unit, who told the family Tadala had been killed at the scene.

“The Police officer in charge told us that Tadala had been killed while stealing from a vehicle of their fellow officer and showed us a screwdriver as evidence,” said the uncle.

“Police did not show us any panga knives, but between a screwdriver and panga knife, the panga knife could have been a more rational evidence that Tadala was an armed robber,” said Master, the uncle.

The family says it holds Schumacher responsible for what happened and accuses the Police of concealing the truth.

The family was then taken to the mortuary, where the family saw the severely damaged body with marks of panga knife hacking and beatings with metal bars. An autopsy was conducted, but Police told the family they could not access the copy of the medical report.

The Independent Complaints Commission (ICC) confirmed receiving a referral for investigation from the Police. If the ICC finds proof of Schumacher’s hands in the case, it will mean the Flames star was involved in an extrajudicial killing, a legal term referring to the murder of a person whether guilty of any crime or not by an official officer, for example, the Police or the military, without any court process. 

The Constitution of the Republic of Malawi under section 16 prohibits arbitrary deprivation of life and Malawi is a State Party to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which prohibit the arbitrary deprivation of life respectively in their articles 6 and 4. 

If Schumacher participated in the hacking or beating of Tadala, it means he can also not say he acted in self-defence as he says Tadala did not have any weapon—particularly the panga, as some of his friends have sought to portray. But, perhaps, Schumacher did not render the blows that killed Tadala nor provide the weapon—the panga—that some witnesses say he had, but as a Police officer, did he do anything to stop the death of the man he accused of being a thief?

Police reject any allegations of shielding the Blue Eagles star.  

“The Malawi Police Service is well aware of the incident which occurred on 16 March 2022 at Nsungwi in Area 25 where a police officer Sub Inspector Schumacher Kuwali and his colleagues are alleged to have assaulted to death Mr. Tadala Paul Nkhoma aged 22, of Chingwengwe Village, TA Mwanza in Salima District,” Deputy National Police Spokesperson Harry Namwaza told PIJ.

Deputy National Police Spokesperson Harry Namwaza

“It is alleged that the deceased was assaulted by an angry mob due to the prevalence of similar cases around the area, and that Police have already instituted investigations to identify and arrest the culprits,” he added.     

MPS says the matter has been referred to the Independent Complaints Commission (ICC) as an independent body because the family members feel the Police cannot exercise fairness in their investigation.  

“The findings by the Independent Complaints Commission will demystify all grievances being raised by concerned family members.  If it is established that Mr. Kuwali had a hand in the murdering of Mr. Tadala Paul Nkhoma, he will answer the charges accordingly.”

Regardless of the circumstances in the Kuwali case, Malawi Police Service has a history of extrajudicial killings, according to a report by the Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), a human rights non-governmental organization. 

“I am not surprised because the officers who were involved (in past incidents) were not punished, and they are still serving. It is unfortunate that the victims’ families were not compensated and no one is feeling their pain,” CHREAA Executive Director Victor Mhango told PIJ in an interview.   

ICC Commissioner Chris Tukula told PIJ the commission is at an advanced stage in its investigation into the matter and will release a report within a month.  

“We expect to issue a report within the next one month. This being an alleged case of possible mob justice, there is a need to interview eyewitnesses, and we need a patient approach. Among other things, we are engaging the community around the area to assist with any information. There have been a couple of instances when possible witnesses are shy to come forward for fear of reprisals. Under our legal scheme, confidentiality and witness protection is guaranteed,” said Tukula.

This article was produced by the Platform for Independent Journalism (PIJ), a non-profit independent media organisation. If you have any complaints or evidence of police brutality or abuse of office please contact the Independent Complaints Commission (ICC) at +265 999 648 839 or email: info@icc.gov.mw   If you want to provide any news tips or feedback to the PIJ email us: gregorygondwe@gmail.com or goldenmatonga@gmail.com