Malawi Ex-President’s Stepson Cleared in Migrant Trafficking Case

Tadikira Mafubza, the stepson of former Malawian President Peter Mutharika, has been acquitted of all charges related to human trafficking and aggravated manslaughter. Mafubza and seven other men were arrested in November 2022 after police linked them to the death of 29 suspected Ethiopian immigrants whose bodies were discovered in an unmarked mass grave.

Despite ex-President Mutharika’s shock at the police action and his assertion that there was no evidence linking his stepson to any crime, Mafubza and his co-accused endured a 19-month ordeal before being cleared following a full trial. Mafubza’s lawyer expressed satisfaction with the outcome, stating that the evidence against their client was “disjointed.”

However, Dzikondianthu Malunda, an official from the Directorate of Public Prosecution, found the ruling “surprising.” Mafubza declined to comment on his acquittal as he left the courtroom, only pausing to pose for photographs.

The case began in October 2022 when police discovered a grave containing dozens of bodies in a forest in the northern district of Mzimba after young boys reported a foul smell. The corpses were believed to be those of Ethiopian migrants being trafficked to South Africa, as Malawi is a major trafficking route for migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia.

Mafubza handed himself over at police headquarters in Lilongwe after a search was launched for him. The former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had characterized his arrest as a political witch-hunt against Mutharika’s family and supporters.