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MALAWI: Two arrested in connection with Anglican priest's death

By Frank Jomo
[Ecumenical News International]  Police in Malawi say they have arrested two Anglican church members in connection with the death of the Rev. Rodney Hunter who was an assistant priest for All Saints Anglican Cathedral of the Lake Malawi Diocese.

Hunter's funeral was on November 21. Aged 72, he died 11 days earlier. Full post-mortem results on his death have not been released. Interim results of the inquiry indicate, however, that he might have died of food poisoning said Laban Makalani, a police spokesperson from Nkhotakota in central Malawi.

The police spokesperson identified one suspect as Bernard Mlota, who may have played a role in the death of Hunter, the former Librarian of Pusey House in Oxford, who has lived in Africa since 1965 and who also had taught theology at the University of Malawi.

"At the moment, I can say that we have arrested a second person but I cannot say what he is suspected to have done for fear of jeopardizing our investigations," Makalani told journalists.

A criminal case in which Hunter had been attacked by a group of people in July was still being handled at the time of his death.

A friend of Hunter's, the Rev. Denis Kayamba, said some high profile figures in the church have been implicated in the priest's death. Kayamba was first to go public with speculation that Hunter might have been poisoned and now he says he is receiving anonymous calls threatening his life.

The Nation newspaper quoted Kayamba as saying there was some "black stuff" around Hunter's mouth the day he was found dead in his house after he had complained of a stomach ache because of the food he had taken the previous day.

"Everyone, including Hunter's relations in the United Kingdom, wants to see the post-mortem results. We will make sure justice prevails even though we have buried him," said Kayamba.

Some people close to Hunter say he may have been poisoned by people angered over his stance against the installation of Briton Nicholas Henderson as Bishop of Lake Malawi diocese to replace the late Peter Nyanja. Henderson was elected bishop of the Diocese of Lake Malawi in July 2005, but the local church's court of confirmation rejected his appointment because of his involvement with a group seen as supporting homosexual clergy.