For Immediate Release
FALSE ALLEGATION - NO ONE DIED OF HUNGER!
The article in the Daily times of January 13, 2016, titled “Man Dies of Hunger” is false and cannot stand medical scrutiny. The article states that a post-mortem was conducted on the body of an unknown hunger victim in the bush in Mzimba, after which the body was buried on the spot. The article further claims that the post-mortem established that the man died of starvation. It is alleged in the same article that “post-mortem results indicated that the man died of hunger related causes.”
No medical professional can conduct a post-mortem exam in the bush and establish the cause of death, especially if the finding is meant to be used in Police investigations. In medical forensic enquiry, “starvation” can never be signed on a medical document as cause of death. In cases of starvation, it is specific complications of severe food deprivation or aggravated pre-existing illnesses that cause death. It is these specific causes and their relation to hunger that are stated on a medical document as cause of death. In this article, although hunger-related causes were mentioned as a cause of death earlier in the article, no specific cause was stated as would normally be the case.
In any case, Police authorities in Mzimba have stated that there was no post-mortem done in the bush where the dead body was found. They know that this deceased person is a non-Malawian because of the head features which they could recognize on the dead body. They suspect that he is a refugee who fell sick and was abandoned by fellow refugees as they passed through bushes at night to avoid detection by Malawi authorities.
Most shocking to us was that when we finally asked the medical person who visited the site, she told us that she found the body to be essentially bones. She could barely recognize some head features, and had the impression that the person had been dead for a long time. She told everybody on site that the cause of death was unknown. She was therefore surprised to hear a newspaper report that a post-mortem established the cause of death to be starvation.
The Police and general public in the area know that Ethiopians, Somalis, Sudanese and others use these routes in their frequent attempts to cross Malawi borders illegally. All this information must have been given to the Daily Times news reporter, but for reasons which everyone can now guess, he never reflected these facts in his report.
In this same article, the newspaper alleges that “the Police have advised the public in the district to avoid walking long distances when they have not eaten anything in the wake of looming hunger in most parts of the country.” The Police have again denied that they gave this warning.
It is obvious that this news reporter had ill intentions in this article. He started by discrediting the State President's policy that nobody shall die of hunger in Malawi. He then went on to lie that a post-mortem established starvation to be the cause of death and further lied about the Police issuing a warning.
This is irresponsible journalism at its highest. It is unpatriotic and most dishonest. We would like all journalists in this country to safeguard the professional integrity of journalism. Such crude fabrications are harmful not just to Government but much more to the country and worse still to the profession itself. We urge the journalists through their professional body to investigate this event and take appropriate disciplinary action.
HON. JAPPIE MHANGO, MP
GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON AND MINISTER OF INFORMATION, TOURISM AND CIVIC EDUCATION
15TH JANUARY, 2016.