By May 17 this year, three psychiatric patients had died under mysterious circumstances at Zomba Mental Hospital (ZMH).
Less than 68 days later, death, which seems to be looming in the background at the facility, has hit again; with one more patient dying under mysterious circumstances.
This time, it is Hector Ndovie who has lost his life after being allegedly strangulated.
ZMH spokesperson Harry Kawiya and Zomba Police Station spokesperson Patricia Sipiliano confirmed the development in separate interviews.
“I can confirm that one of the patients has been killed. This happened around 2am [on Friday] when one of our security guards discovered that there was a quarrel inside one of the wards. This is when they discovered that one of the psychiatric patients was claiming to have killed an animal, pointing at the dead body of the victim,” he said.
On her part, Sipiliano said law enforcers were aware of the incident.
There is no CCTV at the facility.
However, recently, Kawiya told Times Television that there were plans to set up a CCTV system at the hospital.
Ndovie was two to three weeks old at the hospital.
On May 18 this year, The Daily Times published a story in which it indicated that three psychiatric patients had lost their lives under mysterious circumstances at the facility, with the cases of death being registered between April 25 and 27 2022.
That time, Kawiya said they were investigating the issue.
“We suspect that they were strangulated and that they did not die a natural death. We, therefore, reported the matter to police to identify possible suspects. We are still waiting to hear from police,” he said.
Kawiya said police and their investigations had been narrowed down to two clients.
“I can say from 25 to 27 April this year, we lost three clients. These people died in the hospital. Their deaths were suspicious and the issue was reported to Zomba Police. The police, however, are still doing their investigations,” Kawiya said.
Eastern Region Police spokesperson Joseph Sauka, who confirmed the development at the time, indicated that a final report had not been handed over to them.
ZMH provides specialist help to psychiatric patients but, like most hospitals in the country, faces the problem of human resources.
As at May this year, one speacialist officer was attending to at least 378 in-patients.
Some stakeholders have been raising concern over laxity in security at the mental hospital, especially after five patients escaped from the referral psychiatric facility on April 30 2021.