By Feston Malekezo & Audrey Kapalamula:
A forensic autopsy report of the death of Buleya Lule, who died in police custody, shows that he was electrocuted.
Lule was one of the suspects in a case of abduction of 14-year-old Goodson Makanjira, a boy with albinism, in Dedza Dstrict.
The report by pathologist Charles Dzamalala, which was released on April 12, reveals that Buleya was assaulted with different types of instruments, including but not limited to a cylindrical object, inflicting injury to the head.
The report further says a hot iron or similar object was placed on a cloth over the skin rather than directly onto the skin around the left buttock of Buleya.
“While a taser was considered as the possible weapon for the electrocution, the characteristics of the wound did not quite match this weapon. The instrument used in this incidence of electrocution therefore remains obscure; it may have been an unconventional weapon such as a forked metal object that was used,” reads the report in part.
The report also says the nature and types of the injuries on Buleya show that he was tortured, which contradicts a primary autopsy report by government-hired pathologist Maurice Mulenga, which suggested that Buleya died of natural causes.
The report also reveals that there were injuries of different types and nature, ranging from bruises, scratches, burn wounds to electric wounds.
“However, only a few of them [injuries] were of critical significance and interest. These injuries were seen on three sites of the body surface, the right lower quadrant of the abdomen, the head and the buttocks,” the report reads in part.
Buleya died on February 21 this year while in police custody.
The 29-year-old from Thyolo District was answering charges of abduction at the Magistrates’ Court in Lilongwe.
However, he only managed to appear once in court and suddenly died in the evening of the same day.
Following his death, police transferred Buleya’s body from their cells to Kamuzu Central Hospital Mortuary and requested for an autopsy.
That autopsy was conducted on the same day by Mulenga, a pathologist at Kamuzu Central Hospital whose results indicated intracranial bleeding and hypertension as the cause of the death.
Dissatisfied with the results, the Malawi Human Rights Commission with financial support from the United Nations Development Programme engaged Dzamalala to carry out an independent forensic autopsy.
Reacting to the autopsy results, Association of Persons with Albinism President Overstone Kondowe said their suspicion that Buleya was murdered have been proven correct, and has demanded action from Inspector General (IG) of Police Rodney Jose within 10 days.
“We understand that, when a person commits a crime, he or she has to be arrested. We want responsible officers who were on duty that day [Buleya died] to be questioned and culprits must be arrested,” he said.
Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said the report is not yet on the IG’s desk.
“Once we get the report, we will coment accordingly as of now there is nothing we can say,” Kadadzera said.—Additional reporting by Mandy Pondani