Medical staff at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe, say President Bingu wa Mutharika was brought to the hospital on Thursday already dead.
Mutharika, 78, was rushed to the hospital around 11:30 am following a cardiac arrest.
â€œHe was brought already dead…cardiac arrest leads to heart failure and when the heart stops, the next thing is that oxygen stops going to the brain and within three minutes, the brain shuts down and a person is pronounced dead because chances of resuscitation are almost zero depending on the age,â€ said one doctor.
Though pronounced dead at the hospital, Mutharika was on Thursday night flown to South Africa. But the plane delayed by almost four hours because, according to several sources, the pilot from South Africa refused to fly a corpse.
â€œThe air ambulance was hired to airlift a patient and not a corpse…because of that, the pilot and his medical [team] asked [Malawi] government to seek permission to have clearance to fly as cargo and it took long for all the formalities to be completed,” sources said.
According to medical sources, when Mutharika arrived at KCH, panic and confusion ensued in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where the Presidentâ€™s security detail pushed other patients away to prevent them from seeing Mutharika.
There is still no official statement from government on the death of Mutharika. However, a statement by Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary for African Affairs in the United States Department of State, says Mutharika died on Thursday.
â€œThe United States extends its condolences to First Lady Callista Mutharika and the President’s four children.
â€œOur thoughts are with the people of Malawi during this time of sorrow. As Malawians mourn the loss of their President, the United States remains committed to maintaining our strong relationship and partnership with the people of Malawi,â€ reads the statement.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joyce Banda who, according to the Constitution must be in charge of government has appealed to Malawians and the international community to be patient.
Addressing the media at her residence in Lilongwe, Banda said she has been in touch with the Malawian Embassy in South Africa following conflicting information on the condition of Mutharika. She thus said she is waiting for a full report on the issue and will inform the nation accordingly.
She appealed to the nation to adhere to the constitutional requirement which stipulates that in a case where the President is incapacitated, the VP takes charge of government.
Malawiâ€™s former president Bakili Muluzi, earlier in the day, also appealed to government to adhere to the Constitution to let VP step in, in the event Mutharika is declared incapacitated.