History Of Malawi

Testimony on How Dr. Attati Mpakati was Assassinated on 23 March 1983 in Harare.

A 52 year old man who grew up at Area 30 in Lilongwe in the 1970s and 80s as a son to a high ranking police officer working at the Police National Headquarters, has shared with the Lost History Foundation a testimony of what he could recollect around the story about the assassination of Dr. Attati Mpakati on 23 March 1983 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

He gives details of the characters who were behind the assassination of Dr. Attati Mpakati whom he personally knew and were peers with their own children.

He further explains how the whole operation to assassinate Dr. Attati Mpakati was undertaken including the role that his own father played at the Police Headquarters in Lilongwe during the evening that Dr. Attati Mpakati was eliminated.

He opted for anonymity.


“At the time Dr. Attati Mpakati was killed on 23 March 1983 in Harare, I was a teenager staying with my parents at Area 30 in Lilongwe.

My father was a senior Police Officer based at the National Police Headquarters in Lilongwe at that time.

That night Dr.Attati Mpakati was killed, my father was a duty officer.

A duty officer is like a senior desk man. All operations/communications happening that day or night pass through the duty officer.

In other words, a duty officer is the head of the control office and all operations.

There was some jolly good news which I heard my father kindly relaying to his bosses and colleagues that the boys in Harare had successfully accomplished their mission.

The following morning there was jubilation in Area 30 and the news that Dr. Attati Mpakati had been eliminated, was being shared freely among officers.

Even families of police officers got to know about it. It was some great news at Police headquarters since the capture of Orton Chirwa on that Christmas eve of December of 1981.                           

The information I accessed from reliable sources within the Malawi Police is that some Special Branch officers from Police Headquarters at Area 30 itself, had gone on a secret operation to hunt down for Dr. Attati Mpakati.

The man in charge of this operation was Detective Superintendent Msamatundu Banda.

He was assisted by another rank or non commissioned officer (NCO) called Mr. Satha and few others. I personally knew these two officers.

These men were under orders to kill Dr. Attati Mpakati. They infiltrated LESOMA for which they became trusted and frequent emissaries between Malawi and Zimbabwe.

They had pseudo names. They had closely worked with Dr. Attati Mpakati and other top LESOMA cadres for about two years prior to his assassination.     

Around March 1983, there was to be a LESOMA function at a Hotel in Harare. LESOMA members and activists in exile organised this event. Some LESOMA members from inside Malawi were among the delegates for this event.

Dr. Attati Mpakati then based in Maputo, traveled to Harare for this activity. The Harare branch of LESOMA hosted Dr. Attatti Mpakati in some porshy hotel in Harare.

These Special Branch operatives who had infiltrated LESOMA, were instrumental in the arrangements for travel and hotel accommodation for Dr. Attati Mpakati.         

During the night, the assassins  went to Dr. Attati Mpakati’s room disguised as hotel staff. Three times they checked on him only to find him still alive and awake.

What I heard from a reliable source was that the Special Branch operatives had planted some kind of a pillow bomb to blow a killer poison into Dr. Attati Mpakati’s head the moment he laid down on it.

Then on the fourth watch when the assassins went into Dr. Attati Mpakati’s room to finish him off with a revolver if not found dead, they were relieved to find  that Dr. Attati Mpakati had already died from the planted bomb.

So they smuggled his body out of the hotel and dumped it in a road side gutter not very far from the hotel.They then riddled the dead body with a bullet or two to cover up the real cause of death.

That same night, to avoid being traced, the assassins left by road escaping southwards as opposed to North-eastern direction towards Malawi and entered into the neighboring Botswana. From Botswana, they took a commercial flight to Nairobi.

From Nairobi, they flew back to Lilongwe. Upon arrival at Area 30, Messers Banda and Satha were received as heroes. Banda immediately got promoted to Senior Superintendent and later Assistant Commissioner of Police.

He was further rewarded to go to the Malawi Embassy in Pretoria to serve as a diplomat.

Satha too was promoted to a commissioned officer (Inspector and later Assistant Superintendent of Police). Satha was sent to USA to serve at the embassy.

I can not say exactly who killed Dr. Attati Mpakati. But the operation to kill Dr. Attati Mpakati was headed by Banda. Special Branch expertise and field collaboration was however used.

The celebrations at Police Headquarters at Area 30 which I myself witnessed, gave me the impression as a little boy that the people I used to see as fathers to my playmates were dangerous men.

These men are indeed fathers to my childhood friends. Banda’s son was my room mate in my first year at the University. He is an entrepreneur now operating his own electrical engineering firm.

Honestly, I do not like to talk about such a pathetic account because of the childhood friendships which I can not afford to risk today, you know

It is for the sake of digging the truth about our Malawi History much of which remains hidden or distorted that I have shared you this testimony in confidence.

You can share this testimony as long as you dont disclose my identity. Probably, researchers can get some leads out of this to dig further and establish the truth about all this for all of us to learn.”

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