Grey Manyowa, the 73-year-old whose life was about to be terminated through mercy killing, has revealed he asked for it himself.
In an interview granted to The Weekend Times on Wednesday at his home in M'bwerera village in Zomba, Manyowa suspects he was 'fortified' with very strong charms to prolong his life despite that his entire body has capitulated.
"I believe I took some herbs which are keeping me alive. If you look at my legs and arms, they are all dead and useless. This is why I asked my relatives to kill me and save me from this pain," he said.
Manyowa said he summoned his relatives to request them to look for herbs that could neutralise the charms which he suspects are keeping him alive.
"I summoned my relatives, I asked them to help me to look for the witchdoctors who could overturn what is in my body. But when I told them this, they were divided and my nephew, Chief M'buka, abandoned the
meeting," he said.
His wife, Rose Manyowa, refused to talk, saying she had been vilified as the one fanning the idea of killing the old man.
The matter has divided the family, with one side interpreting the old man's words as a plea for his life to be terminated.
His wife and two nieces, identified as Mayi Tambala (Hilda Makileyi) and Mrs Balala (Maggie Kabota), believe the old man should be granted his wish.
On the other side, Manyowa's nephew, Medison Wadi, who is Chief M'buka, and his sister believe the old man is frustrated due to the two-year ailment but his life should be spared as killing him would be murder
according to the laws of Malawi.
The chief's sister, whose husband provided the old man with the wheelchair and escorted The Weekend Times crew to the village located 15 kilometres off Jali Road from around Air Wing in Zomba, said Manyowa can improve with proper care.
"His health can improve with proper care and love. I used to take care of him before this dispute. I would hire a car to take him from the village to Zomba hospital to change the catheter. His health was improving but it has now deteriorated because he is alone most of the times," she said.
However, there is little sign any improvement can be expected of Manyowa and he even challenged The Weekend Times crew to touch and stretch his legs. Manyowa cannot feel any sensation in the limbs.
But he is alert and in control of his mental faculties as he could remember details and reason properly.
Another old man we interviewed in the village said it was not strange to have people like Manyowa who live
long because of charms and that it was right to finish them off because they were dead already.
But such an exercise , he said, is done secretly and not publicly like in this case.
"We have had such situations before where someone talks and appears fine but who would be rotting on the
lower side. Usually what happens is that the elders consult secretly and decide to end the man's life quietly.
"But in this case the matter is out of hand since is it being discussed in the media. It should have been done
secretly," he said.
Meanwhile in the aftermath of the dispute, Chief M'buka has lost his chieftainship at the orders of Sub T/A Nkagula on grounds that M'buka disrespected him by talking to the media without seeking his permission.
"It is true I was summoned and was told that I should not have spoken to media or invited anyone to inspect
the old man and that since I had done that without seeking permission from him, I had disrespected him
and that as a disciplinary measure I have to stop being a chief.
"But I will not stop being a chief because when I spoke to the press I did so in my capacity as a family
member — not as a chief — since the sick man is my uncle. Therefore it had nothing to do with my chieftainship
and I have already received support from the group village headman, so I will not quit," he said.