Two Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers died while nine others sustained injuries after the vehicle they were travelling in on President Lazarus Chakwera’s motorcade overturned near HHI in Blantyre yesterday afternoon.
MDF acting public relations officer Kelvin Mlelemba has identified the deceased as Corporal Sherrif Maulana and Corporal Gift Kachedwa of the Military Police Batallion.
The President last night visited the nine injured soldiers receiving treatment at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre where it was learnt that one was in the intensive care unit (ICU).
During the visit to QECH around 7.30pm, Chakwera, who was travelling from Lilongwe to Blantyre when the accident involving the last vehicle on his convoy happened, wished the injured soldiers speedy recovery from the injuries.
Hospital officials told the President that the injured were in stable condition with only one in the ICU.
“But we remain hopeful. They have a huge chance to heal,” one of the medical staff briefed the President.
The President himself was constantly overheard offering words of encouragement to his injured troops.
“Be strong. You will be alright. You will pull through,” the Commander-in-Chief said as he made rounds on the soldiers.
But Chakwera did not address the media present at the hospital, with presidential press secretary Brian Banda arguing that the President was still shocked with the development.
He said: “You will have to bear with him. We are talking of a man who has lost two of his trusted soldiers. These are people he has been with throughout all his local engagements. He is in deep grief.”
National Police spokesperson J ames Kadadzera said he was yet to get more details, but like Minister of Information Gospel Kazako earlier, confirmed that investigations were already underway to establish the cause of the accident.
Vice-President Saulos Chilima also paid tribute to the fallen soldiers in a statement last night.
A statement bearing his UTM Party’s logo and co-signed with his wife Mary, read: “We join His Excellency the President, Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, the MDF high command and men and women in uniform and all citizens in mourning the loss of two of our officers who have died in a road accident at Grace Bandawe near HHI, today.”
Kazako said the vehicle involved in the accident was always the last on the presidential convoy with its uniformed officers in red berets.
Eyewitnesses said the driver of the vehicle, a Toyota Land Cruiser, lost control as he was attempting to negotiate the bend before it plunged onto the perimeter brick fence of Blantyre Girls Primary School.
In December 2014, nine police officers died in a horrific road at Chiendausiku in Balaka enroute from Zomba to join former president Peter Mutharika’s convoy from Lilongwe to Machinga for the installation of Traditional Authority Kapoloma.
In June last year, the Vice- President had to cancel his whistle-stop campaign rallies in Ntcheu following an accident involving about 10 police officers on his campaign trail.