The General Secretary of the Southern Africa Trade Union Coordition Council (SATUCC) called Chakufwa Chihana arrived at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe around noon on 6 April 1992 aboard SAA flight from Johannesburg.
He had been out of the Malawi since 3rd March 1992 (before pastoral letter by catholic bishops).
He had traveled to Lusaka where he attended a conference on Democracy in Malawi organised by exiled Malawians. He delivered a key note address at the opening of this conference on 20 March 1992.
As he descended out of the plane while waving upon his arrival back on 6 April 1992, police swiftly arrested him.
They took him to his residence in Area 12 in Lilongwe for a thorough search and then raided his office where they arrested everyone who was at the office including an official guest called Thom Medley from trade unions in USA.
One staff at SATUCC’s secretariat in Lilongwe called Dorothy Kawala escaped arrest as she was attending a funeral. She heard about the arrests while at the funeral, from there she fled to exile in Zambia.
Her mother was then detained and severely tortured as a way to entice her to immediately return from exile to face the music and have her mother freed.
And two other members of staff were by then in Zambia for official duties , these two were not arrested.
Chakufwa Chihana was himself tried and convicted of importing and possessing seditious materials in December 1992 and March 1993 by High Court and Supreme Court respectively.
He was freed on 13 June 1993 just a day before referendum.
The SATUCC secretariat in Lilongwe was immediately closed by orders from above.
Temporarily, a SATUCC office was opened in Kitwe, Zambia hosted by Zambia Congress of Trade Unions which was a founding affiliate of SATUCC from 1983.
The staff from the Lilongwe office were invited to take up their jobs at the Kitwe office upon their release from detention.
Stay tuned for more…