Kotanna Chidyaonga: Ntilosanje sues  Malawi Police, demanding K300 million


Late Kotanna Chidyaonga’s former boyfriend Timothy ‘Timmy’ Ntilosanje has sued the Malawi Police, demanding K300 million for false imprisonment and defamation.

Ntilosanje is also accusing police of malicious imprisonment and wants police to pay aggravated damages and exemplary/punitive damages and cost of the action.

In January 2020, Kotanna Chidyaonga died in hospital after reportedly being bitten by a snake. Post-mortem conducted by Dr Charles Dzamalala showed that she died due to termic.

Police later rounded up Ntilosanje and three friends, Diana Bhagwanji, Gilbert Kamaliza and his girlfriend Ekaree Daniela Chiweza, on accusations that they had a role in the death of Kotanna.

The four spent 34 days at Maula Prison and in August 2020 they were found with no case to answer by the High Court.

In his summons to the Attorney General, Ntilosanje’s lawyer Khwima Mchizi argue that the arrest was malicious because the Malawi Police Service, after carrying out their investigations, initially concluded that there was no reasonable cause to effect the arrest of Ntilosanje.

“The Malawi Police Service only effected the arrest of the claimant after getting orders from a superior in the Malawi Police Service to effect the said arrest,” Mchizi claims in the court documents.

According to a report by the Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ), Mchizi in his letter to the Attorney General has argued that the state lacked sufficient reasonable and probable cause for the arrest since there was no evidence linking Ntilosanje to the death of his girlfriend Kotanna.

In the letter, Mchizi says Ntilosanje is digital marketer, brand strategist and businessman hence his image and standing in society has been tarnished due to the arrest.

“As a marketer, image is everything and our client lost that image when he was viciously prosecuted and spent months in prison for an offence he didn’t do, and he has since been termed a murderer despite being acquitted by the High Court, and it’s because of how the matter was handled by the Police and prosecution which makes everyone think our client is a murderer,” Mchizi says in the letter to the AG.

In an interview with PIJ , Ntilosanje said his legal suit against the Police is not a quest for vengeance.

“It’s not payback. The scales of justice have to balance. They weighed on us, and now it’s their turn,” he said.

His lawyer Mchizi said they are  also considering whether to file a lawsuit  against pathologist Dzamalala.

“We are contemplating the next course of legal action, but we will definitely file a case against Dr Dzamalala and MalMed under whose name the report was issued,” he said, adding that they are monitoring Dr Dzamalala’s appeal against his guilty verdict by the Medical Council of Malawi.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has  confirmed receiving the summons and has said he will contest the claim.

Nyirenda has argued that there was reasonable and probable cause for arresting Ntilosanje and his friends.

“Two pathologists found that the deceased died of poison. The mere fact of an acquittal does not entitle someone to claim compensation for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution,” he said.

He then warned that hidden truth will be revealed during the trial.

“It will be a trial of the century. It will reveal a lot of hidden truth,” he said.

In early January 2020, Kotanna, Ntilosanje as well as Diana Bhagwanji were at Ntilosanje’s house in Area 3 in Lilongwe.  However, when the trio stepped out of the house, Kotanna reportedly stepped on a snake and she was bitten by the snake before it was killed by a security guard.

The 23-year-old was rushed to Poly Care Clinic for treatment and later to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) where efforts to resuscitate her proved futile.

Pathologist, Dr. Charles Dzamalala, conducted an autopsy which found that Kottana did not die from the snake bite but due to termic poison. This led to the arrests of Ntilosanje, Bhagwanji, Kamaliza and Chiweza.

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.

In August, 2020, High Court Judge Thomson Ligowe acquitted the four saying the state had failed to prove that they murdered Chidyaonga.

Last year, the Medical Council of Malawi (MCM) established that it was the veruconium bromide administered at Poly Care Clinic that led to Kotanna’s death on 4 January, 2020.

The council issued a warning to Dzamalala saying the forensic pathology report he issued is inconsistent with standard practice for performing and issuing forensic pathology report.

“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” the council said.

The council also suspended Dr Ruth Chimutu for three months for mistakenly administering veruconium bromide to Kotanna when she was taken to Poly Care Clinic following a snake bite.

Earlier this year, the Poisons, and Medicines Regulatory Authority (PMRA), also slapped PolyCare Clinic pharmacist Rafick Mustaphar with a six-month suspension for negligence.

“He was found negligent in discharging his duties, which led to the dispensing of incorrect medication. His conduct in failing to conduct good dispensing procedures is against the code of ethics that guides the pharmacy profession,” PMRA’s verdict reads.

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