After the fatal shooting of Director of Budgeting in the Ministry of Finance on September, 13, reports have emerged that were it not for the timely intervention of Late Mutharika spokesperson, Dr. Heatherwick Ntaba, Mr. Mphwiyo could have been another tale of history. Shot dead in his line of duty.

Below is an account by one eyewitness of the events surrounding the shooting and ultimate survival of Mr. Mphwiyo who is now in South Africa receiving medical attention:

I was in the Area 43 MASM clinic with three family members when Paul Mphwiyo staggered into the ward we were in. It was around 11.30pm on Friday, September 13th. He was walking by himself, fully clad in his suit. He was holding a heavily bloodied bathing towel to his mouth.

At first I thought the towel was brown in colour, but I realised it was the blood. A heavy trail of blood followed him. The nurses were directing him toward a bathroom that passed through the ward.

He was talking, but it was inaudible. His wife and daughter were
following behind, together with a number of nurses. He went past us, and pushed open the bathroom door. One nurse instructed him to lie on a bed in the bathroom area. He was still trying to talk. I heard him say “I’m choking” a number of times. He was choking on his own blood.

He was trying to cough out what I imagined to be one of the bullets.
He was breathing painfully and unnaturally. It was extremely frightening.

At this point we didn’t know who it was, but we heard the wife making frantic phone calls. We were able to piece together what she was saying on the phone and learned that he had been shot. We asked the daughter who he was, and she told us. I immediately knew who it was, because he had been actively involved in the debate on whether to devalue the kwacha or not when Bingu was still alive.

I also remembered the news item that announced he had been appointed as the new Director of Budget.

We asked the family if the police had been notified, and they said no.

I dialled the “Ndakuona” number. It went unanswered. I tried it
several times, and nobody picked up. The wife asked for the number so she could also try it. Still nobody picked up. I then dialled the number of the Officer in Charge Lingadzi Police. It too went unanswered. Several times. I then dialled the number of a CID officer I know. He answered.

It was now exactly midnight. I explained to him what had happened, and that the Ndakuona number was not being answered for the entire half hour I was calling. He asked to call me back after a few minutes and give me other numbers. He did. He gave me numbers for the deputy Officer in Charge, and for the Head of CID Lingadzi Police. I tried both numbers; one went unanswered, the other was out
of reach.

I sent out a tweet asking if there was a police officer on my
timeline. I didn’t mention the name. I tried Ndakuona yet again, still no response. Then I tried the two numbers one more time. The deputy OiC responded, and I gave him the details of the house, which Paul’s daughter had given me. He was so sleepy I had to repeat the details several times. He called me back after five minutes, and asked for the details again.

Meanwhile, the nurses had put a call through to the doctor on call. He came within twenty minutes. It was Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba. He took
control of the situation, and managed to stabilise Paul’s condition.
He had stopped making the unnatural sounds. Had Dr Ntaba arrived half
an hour later, I doubt Paul would still be alive. An ambulance
arrived, and they quickly transported Paul to KCH.

Another member of my family had asked Paul’s daughter what their religion was, and she said they were Catholics. We called a friend in Area 43 and suggested they alert their parish priest. One parishioner drove to the priest’s house and drove him to KCH. We left the MASM clinic at 1am.

I still don’t understand why the Ndakuona number, which was launched
with fanfare as the new police emergency number not too long ago, went unanswered for all that period. Previously I have used it, and someone has usually responded.

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