The Board of the Medical Council of Malawi (MCM) has found Pathologist, Dr. Charles Dzamalala, guilty after he was charged with medical negligence and unprofessional conduct over a postmortem in which he concluded that 23-year-old Kottana Chidyaonga died of termic poison.
The board has released its results in a letter signed by Registrar Richard Ndovie.
Kottana Chidyaonga died on 4 January, 2020 at Poly Care Clinic where she was taken to after being bitten by a snake.
Dzamalala’s autopsy report concluded that Kottana did not die from the snake bite but due to termic poison.
Four people were arrested over Kottana’s death following the report but they were later acquitted.
The four included Kottana’s boyfriend Timothy Mtilosanje who then filed a complaint against Dzamalala saying the doctor conducted postmortem and forensic pathology tests inconsistent with the standard practise and this led to the wrong conclusion of the causation of death.
The MCM board conducted an independent investigation and heard from both parties and then made a final determination.
“The council discussed the case and determined that the late Kottana Chidyaonga forensic pathology report is inconsistent with standard practice for performing and issuing forensic pathology report because the laboratory he [Dzamalala] used to determine the causation of death as termic did not have reagents to elicit the levels of venom and the levels of anesthetic drug, vecuronium, that maybe the most likely to contribute to the causation of death” reads the Board’s determination.
It adds: “The council determines that Dzamalala is guilty for definitively concluding that the late Kottana Chidyaonga died of termic.”
The board has since resolved to write a warning letter to Dzamalala.
The pathologist’s lawyers have since told the local media that Dzamalala will appeal against the determination.
According to Dzamalala’s report, Kottana, boyfriend Timothy Mtilosanje as well as Diana Bhagwanji were at Mtilosanje’s house in Area 3 where they took some alcohol before deciding to leave the place for a pub in town.
However, when the trio stepped out of Mtilosanje’s house, Chidyaonga reportedly stepped on a snake in the veranda of the house and she was bitten by the snake before it was killed by the security guard.
Chidyaonga was rushed to Poly Care clinic for treatment and later to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) where efforts to resuscitate her proved futile.
A report by another pathologist Dr Steve Kamiza challenged Dzamalala’s findings saying they were not solid enough to conclude that Chidyaonga’s death was a case of homicide.
Following Chidyaonga’s death, Mtilosanje as well as Ekari Chaweza, Gilbert Kamaliza and Diana Bhagwanji were arrested.
In August, 2020, High Court Judge Thomson Ligowe acquitted the four saying the state had failed to prove that they murdered Chidyaonga.
An investigative report published by Platform for Investigative Journalism revealed that Kottana likely died due to the drug administered at Poly Care Clinic.