There are no words to describe the pain Margret Brighton a 38-year-old woman from Tembenu village in Thyolo district is going through. This is a mother who has lost a daughter and a grandchild within a week in a terrible violence inflicted by a man socially expected to care, honor and protect them; the husband.
This is an ugly face of gender-based violence, something that should not be happening in this 21st century.
If there must be an institution safer than any; that place must be home and the family setup.
Whilst parents would provide protection and needs for their homes, a home must also be a social setup where every member parents or children alike must enjoy equal rights.
And talking of rights, the right to life comes to light, such is so because of late homes appear to have become a death trap – courtesy of various forms of domestic based violence.
However, this is not a case in Thyolo district and Tembenu village in particular because in this location, only a space of days, a young grannie – Margret Brighton has lost her daughter and grandchild.
All this in the name of a heated family dispute.
Reports have it that on November 2nd late Tamandani Baisoni picked-up a quarrel with her husband – Ulemu Brazio.
However, little could this young grandmother imagine, this quarrel would lead to tragic loss of lives for Tamandani– her daughter and her three-year old grandchild – Chancy. But it was!
Whilst people slept, a disturbing scream was heard! Her daughter had just been hit to unconsciousness.
“It was on a Tuesday night and my daughter was asleep in her house, I heard the sound of a motorbike and I realized it was my son in-law arriving. After a short while I heard my daughter crying. When I entered their house, I found she had fainted. After resuscitating her she informed me that her husband had hit her for no reason at all.” explained Brighton.
As Brighton would explain, this was only a preamble, for the worse was yet to follow at this time because the next night November, 03rd the worst had happened.
Her son in-law Ulemu Brazio had allegedly poured petrol on Tamandani his wife and Ulemu his child and set them alight.
“After we had gone to sleep I heard a cry in the middle of the night and I rushed into their house thinking he is beating her again. I found my daughter and her child on fire. I extinguished the fire using the wrapper that I was putting on and I dragged my daughter and her child outside the house all on my own.” explains the tearful Brighton.
She further disclosed that her son in-law had been such abusive in spite of several interventions and counseling from elders to bring the couple harmony.
“My family had tried to intervene to end the marriage but my son-in-law never listened to us. Now I cry every day whenever I think about losing my daughter and her innocent child”. Lamented Brighton
However, sadly, in spite of being rushed for medical attention neither could Thyolo district hospital nor Queen Elizabeth Central hospital save the three-year-old Chancy and the mother – Tamandani both of whom are now dead.
As would confirm Rodrick Maida – Police spokesperson for the South Eastern Region, little Chancy died on November 03rd November whilst her mother followed on November, 05th November 2021.
While the mother and the daughter lie six meters underneath the soil Maida says the suspect – Ulemu will have to face the law and answer for manslaughter.
“Police thought it wise to take the suspect to Zomba Maximum prison to await trial. Since he also got injured in the fire, he is currently receiving treatment at Zomba General Hospital and after that he will answer two murder charges for the death of his daughter and wife.” Explained Maida
This isn’t the first domestic or gender based incident of abuse to be recorded. But where a husband or wife goes to the extent of dousing a partner with petro and setting the partner ablaze, gender rights campaigners feel enough is enough.
Caroline Mvalo – director for the Centre for Conflict Management and Women Development Affairs has since described the latest incident as barbaric and inhumane.
However, Mvalo feels there’re solutions to ending such inhumane acts like this, and that its time communities began to assume the role of watchdogs and begin to report any incidents of domestic or gender based violence.
“NGOs have done everything, they have gone everywhere creating awareness against gender based violence, and they have told everyone these are acts of gender based violence; what else do we want? Government gas put in place policies including the prevention of domestic violence law, but still these acts are continuing.
But I think we need to do some sort of a research especially targeting men, to try and understand why is it that they fail to control their anger, what is their problem. Then we get the results, recommendation should be made from that research”. Said Mvalo
On her part village headwoman Tembenu has imposed that no man marries in her jurisdiction without screening of his track record … or else any man involved in gender based violence in her area risk being chased away.
“Am deeply saddened by this incident that is why I have given a decree that every man who comes to marry in my village should report to me together with his relations. I also advice parents not to standby when their children are facing abuses in their marriage but rather chase him away or report him to the police”. Said Village Head Tembenu
Reacting to the development, government through Minister of Gender-Patricia Kaliati-has called the judiciary to fast track such criminal cases as well as give a stiffer punishment to perpetrators of such violence.
“Let the judgment take place as quickly as possible so that it should send as a warning to those men who are still doing it. It’s really very sad that apart from the awareness campaigns on gender-based violence taking place every day, there are still some evil men who are still doing it. We need to punish them severely, and there is no way that they should be granted bail, no bail for such severe cases!” Expressed Kaliati
Two lives lost; a family misunderstanding that ends in a husband pouring petrol and setting ablaze a wife and a daughter in the middle of the night. Yes, it is unthinkable, barbaric and a trauma that is to this day very disturbing to learn about.
In a country with lots and lots of gender-based interventions and continue to register very same incidents, it either means state and non-state actors are somewhere missing the plot.
And incidents like this, provide a perfect mirror to reflect on these interventions for the greater good of the country.