One eminent figure from Malawi who died in the month of October, was an exiled freedom fighter and journalist called Mkwapatila Mhango then based in Lusaka, Zambia.
He was also the Publicity Secretary for Orton Chirwa led party called Malawi Freedom Movement (MAFREMO).
On 13 October 1989, while Orton Chirwa was still in jail at Zomba Prison in Malawi, Mkwapatila Mhango’s house in Lusaka was petrol bombed, killing 10 people in the house including his two wives and children one of which was a nine month old baby. Mkwapatila Mhango himself died at a hospital 3 days later.
Three weeks earlier, at a public rally in Malawi, Dr Kamuzu Banda had singled out Mkwapatila Mhango as a source of malicious lies about Malawi and sternly warned him.
Two years earlier, his brother Dr. Goodluck Mhango was arrested in 1987 and locked in jail in Malawi without trial for the ‘crimes’ committed by Mkwapatila Mhango.
According to the Human Rights Watch Report of 1990, immediately after the petrol bombing, Malawi Government issued a public statement attributing the killing to internal feud within exiled opposition.
However, during an interview with BBC while on his hospital bed, Mkwapatila Mhango said that he had no doubt that Malawi Government had masterminded this attack.
A Quarterly Newsletter dated January to March 1991 published by the Malawi Human Rights Activists Group based in Uganda, reported that five Malawians who were detained by the Police in Zambia as suspects in connection to arson and deaths of Mkwapatila Mhango and his family, were eventually released and deported to Malawi after a year or so.
The names of the five were: Bright Phiri, George Kuntepa, Malcolm Phiri, George Chitepa and Kelly Nkhoma.
The Amnesty International Report of 1995 further disclosed that in June 1994, a month after the ushering into power in Malawi of the new United Democratic Front (UDF) led government, two Malawians by the names of Kelly Nkhoma and Sam Phiri were extradited to Zambia to be tried for their involvement in the deaths of Mkwapatila Mhango and his family.
Surprisingly, in Zambia the two were instead charged for the murder of another Malawian journalist called Tito Banda who eventually turned out to be alive in Malawi.
The two were therefore acquitted in September 1994 by the magistrate court in Zambia for lack of evidence and returned to Malawi.