Scores of people who have been victimised by wrangles over the Kilupula chieftaincy in Karonga are surviving on small food donations from fellow vil¬lagers as no other assistance has been granted to them.
The victims had their houses completely razed down and are currently either sleeping in the open or in the shells of their hous¬es. Their situation has been wors¬ened by rains the area is currently experiencing.
"Everything that we are using here is what people donated to us after feeling sorry because of the situation we are in," said Kamoza Mwaungulu as he sat on an old mat in front of remnants of his two houses.
His three wives and children looking on, Mwaungulu said they could not rescue anything from the houses as they were taken by surprise.
"The houses were set ablaze at around 11pm. We were deep in sleep at that time and we could only save our lives," he said.
As of Thursday this week, up to 55 houses had been com¬pletely razed down with the latest case being registered on Tuesday night. Of the 55 houses, 50 are in Mwantende, three in Mwangwera and two in Mwangomba.
The violence started almost immediately after 75-year-old Ponsiano George Mwantende was installed Traditional Authority Kilupula during a ceremony pre¬sided over by Local Government and Rural Development Minister Grace Maseko.
Some of victims Malawi News interviewed said a group of peo¬ple either set the houses ablaze while the owners were sleeping while others said sometimes the suspected arsonists begin by pick¬ing quarrels with owners of the houses.
"In the course of the quarrels, a member of the gangs finds an opportunity to spill petrol around the houses before torching them in full view of the owners," claimed another victim who declined to be named.
Meanwhile, the newly-installed TA Kilupula claimed in an exclusive interview on Tuesday that no gov¬ernment official has been to the area to assess the damage.
"I have compiled a list of people who have had their houses torched. I have presented this list to the police, the DC's office and the Paramount Chief," he said. "It is after this that the people from the DC's office are promising tents."
He said the exercise was to start on Thursday but failed be¬cause the DC was not around.
Paramount Chief Kyungu confirmed the postponement of the assessment, saying DC Emmanuel Bambe had gone for the distribu¬tion of input subsidy coupons.
Kyungu also confirmed Mwantende's claim that the Kilupula chieftaincy rotates among four households of Mwanjasi, Mwantende, Mwangwera and Mwakasangira.
The immediate past Kilupula, Lackson Mwanjasi, was from the Mwanjasi household. He was chief from 2003 until his death in 2010.
Elders settled for Ponsiano George Mwantende from the Mwantende household and his traditional installation took place on August 14 2010. However, wrangles ensued when the Mwanjasi household backed one Kalongolera Mwamukamba for the chieftaincy.
Former President Bingu wa Mutharika instituted a commission of inquiry into the issue which cleared Mwantende's appointment. Mutharika then approved the appointment on December 7 2011.
The current wrangle is mainly between people from the Mwanjasi and Mwantende households.