Police in Malawi have arrested the stepson of former President Peter Mutharika in connection with the discovery of a mass grave last month. Police say Tadikira Mafubza turned himself in to police Wednesday. The grave found in a forest contained 30 bodies believed to be those of illegal Ethiopian immigrants.
Tadikira Mafubza is a son of former President Peter Mutharika’s wife, Gertrude, whom he married in 2014.
Police say the arrest, the first since the discovery of the mass grave, is a result of the investigation they are conducting.
Peter Kalaya is the spokesperson for the Malawi Police Service.
“We have arrested him because we have evidence that he is connected to the case that we are investigating, which is to do with a mass grave that was found in Mzimba district, where 30 bodies of suspected victims of human trafficking, suspected to be Ethiopians, were exhumed.”
Some local media reports indicate police also impounded a vehicle used to transport suspected Ethiopian immigrants being trafficked to South Africa.
“At the moment I will not be able to confirm or deny that because any information to do with that, I am afraid, might jeopardize the stage of our investigation.”
In the preliminary police investigation, authorities found temporary travel documents with the names and nationalities of the deceased. Police also found SIM cards of Ethiopian mobile phone network providers.
Now, Malawians are waiting for results of autopsies conducted to establish the causes of death.
Earlier in November, Mutharika told a press conference at his residence in Mangochi district that he was shocked at the government's silence on the cause of death of the migrants.
Mutharika said Malawians and the international community deserved to know what happened.
Police spokesperson Kalaya told VOA Thursday that police cannot release findings from pathologists on what caused the deaths.
“At the moment, they have given us a preliminary report, but we are not in a position to give out to the public what’s in the preliminary report,” Mutharika said. “At an appropriate time, we are to inform Malawians and the rest of the world what’s in there. Because anything that we say at the moment, looking at the stage where we are with investigations, I am afraid it might affect our investigations of the case.”
Kalaya said Mafubza is expected to appear in court Friday to answer charges on human trafficking and that more arrests will follow soon.
There was no immediate comment from Mutharika on the arrest.
Also, a spokesperson for Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party, Shadreck Namalomba, who sometimes speaks for Mutharika’s family, told VOA Thursday that he would not comment on the arrest of the former president’s stepson.