The life of 73-year-old Grey Manyowa of M'buka village in Zomba is hanging on tenterhooks as some family members are con¬templating terminating his life to alleviate agonies of his ailment and relieve the burden of taking care of him.
Village Headman M'buka confirmed the development, saying there was a meeting last weekend to decide the fate of the supposed terminally ill old man.
"It is true there was a meeting to de¬cide whether his life should be termi¬nated. I am against the idea but there are some women within our family who are pushing that agenda.
"The ailing man is my uncle. As a vil¬lage headman, I was there to make a decision based on what the family members presented. But I cannot al¬low anyone to kill another person, even for reasons of alleviating pain. So, I abandoned the meeting because I disagreed with the women who are pushing for this sinister agenda," he said.
VH M'buka, born Wedson Wadi, said the matter has taken a twist as the women have decided to summon him to appear before Sub T/A Nkagula to explain why he abandoned the family meeting.
"I received the summon early this week to the effect that I should appear before Sub T/A Nkagula to explain my conduct on why I walked away from the meeting and why Iwas not con¬cerned despite seeing the old man suffer with pain.
"But it is clear they want to force me to support the idea of terminating the old man's life but Idon't want that," he said.
He said the women believe Manyowa fortified himself with charms which are believed to prolong his life, such that without aiding him to die, he would live on to eternity despite the pain he was going through.
Sources in the village said among the women promoting the euthanasia agenda is Manyowa's niece, identified as Mayi Tambiwa (Hilda Makileyi), who, in an interview, denied the idea of the mercy killing came from her and the other women, insisting it was the old man's own wish.
"It is wrong to suggest we decided to end the old man's life. If his wife heard this, she would cry because it is not true. The truth is that he, himself, has been complaining that he is tired of living, hence he asked for his life to be terminated. It was not my or his wife's idea," she said.
Mai Tambiwa also confirmed to have summoned M'buka to appear before Sub T/ANkagula over the matter but denied it was to force the village head to agree to the mercy killing.
"The reason Idecided to take the mat¬ter further is to seek higher authority to help us reach a decision that would help the family," she said.
She accused M'buka of failing to ac¬cept facts as presented by the hos¬pital.
"We have been to the hospital with the old man and they told us there is nothing they can do to improve his condition. They discharged us and told us to wait for death to take him away. What does that mean?" she asked rhetorically.
However, when The Weekend Times crew, disguised as medical staff from the hospital, interviewed Manyowa, he spoke coherently and said he was fine.
He did not look like he was ready to give up on life although it was clear he was in great pain.
Manyowa, who used to work as a gar¬dener at the State House in Zomba, has been seriously sick since 2010 and medical passports indicate he suffered from stoke and critical psy¬chological problems.
However, his condition deteriorated critically when hot water scalded his private parts such that, according to M'buka, doctors had to remove them.
"We don't know what really hap¬pened. We were just told he was tak¬ing traditionally medicine that was boiled in a pot and he was supposed to sit on that pot (Kuvundikirira).
"However, on this day, the pot came undone and the water scalded his private parts. Others say it was an attempt to terminate his life," he ex¬plained.
The hospital removed the private parts and fitted him with a catheter for relief which is changed at inter¬vals at the hospital.
This is what complicated his health condition as it left him paralysed from the waist down. The hospital has since provided him with a wheel¬chair through help from the Malawi Prison Service (MPS).
Andrew Kalombola, a member of the family who has been helping Manyowa, said he was concerned about the old man's life.
Kalombola, who is an employee of MPS, said he had been helping the family to take care of the old man but was concerned that all his efforts would be in vain owing to the mercy killing agenda.
"Iam married to Village Headman M'buka's sister. Ihave been helping the old man to have access to medi-cation and even in obtaining the wheelchair to ease movement. He is okay and can talk, so those who are saying he should be helped to die are being unfair and cruel.
"Why should anyone take some¬body's life? Idon't understand. The reporter who went there spoke to the old man said he is okay. Although Iam not a full member of the fam¬ily, Iam against those who want to terminate his life. God will decide his fate," he said.
In legal and medical terms, the term euthanasia is used to describe mer¬cy killing or helping to end the life of someone where the prolonging of such a life is deemed undesirable.
Although the law is silent on eutha¬nasia, Malawi Law Society President John Gift Mwakwawa said the law criminalises killing or taking away somebody's life.
"The law in Malawi says taking the life of another person is murder and it is criminal. Therefore, regardless of whatever means is used in ending the old man's life but if he is killed, that is criminal and whoever does it is liable to answer charges of mur¬der," he said.