From Anglican Information
Death Announcement of Adson Bernard Mlota (Churchwarden)
Nkhota-kota Cathedral, Malawi
Bernard Mlota passed away on 10th May 2008
and laid to rest on 12th May 2008
In a letter from the relatives of the late Bernard Mlota the relatives (nine children and 38 grandchildren) report the death of the head of their household.
Mlota was one of two men (the other being Canon Hunter’s loyal cook Leonard Mondoma) imprisoned for the claimed ‘poisoning’ of the late Canon Rodney Hunter. They were arrested and held without charge with no evidence against them other than the word of a suspended priest, Dennis Kayamba. Shortly after Ruth Gledhill of the UK Times carried the story on 26th April ‘Enemy of Liberal Anglicans was poisoned’. Subsequently, it was Ruth Gledhill herself who reinforced this tragedy by triumphantly declaring the names of the so-called poisons used on Hunter – these turned out to be medications.
The ‘poisoning’ story was copied in various manifestations and carried around the world effectively as an uncritical condemnation of the two innocent men as murderers – not least in the Malawi newspapers. It was photocopied and distributed, for example, at Hunter’s Requiem Mass, the preacher at that Mass declared that Hunter had been murdered – all without evidence.
Subsequently, Bernard Mlota was released on bail but Leonard Mondoma continued to languish in what has been described as the ‘hell-hole’ of Nokhota-kota prison for almost 18 months. Eventually and recently a compassionate lawyer who works for Amnesty International has managed to get him out on bail.
Death of Bernard Mlota:
In their letter the relatives of Bernard Mlota have included the following:
We feel the following factors contributed much to his sudden death:
1. Ill –treatment while in and outside prison
2. His detention for alleged murder case delayed him to consult medical personnel
3. Poor financial stand for medical bills whilst on bail
4. His second son (Brightone) also got imprisoned when he was fighting in court to secure bail for his father
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION observes that Mlota had become a pariah figure because of the press reports (which had their origin in the Gledhill Times reportage) about him saying that he was a murderer. This led to ill treatment in and out of prison and difficulties in obtaining medical care and monies to pay medical bills. In addition Malawi is a country that still has the death penalty on the statute books. Consequently and understandably his mental state suffered considerably.
‘Undoubtedly’ say Mlota’s relatives, ‘he was a victim of church politics’.
– stoked says ANGLICAN-INFORMATION by irresponsible press reporting.
The Gledhill response:
Ruth Gledhill’s standard response to this tragedy is that she did not publish her article until after the arrests. That is an obfuscation that deliberately misses the point. The widely circulated offending article published soon after the arrests was accusatory and clearly incriminatory and led immediately to an assumption of guilt on the part of two innocent men who have since paid a terrible price. Mlota is dead – a death hasted the relatives claim by how he was treated after the accusations against him. Mondoma, who ironically was Canon Hunter most loyal supporter, is now traumatised, unwell and stranded in a no-man’s land of false accusation awaiting a trial that will probably never come.
This is a matter for the Press Complaints Commission two poor, innocent Third World men and their bewildered families have been caught up in the scripted accusations of a journalist who should know better. There must be at least public and published apology for a travesty of natural justice.