His body was discovered by a lover he had spent the night with at a beer drinking joint, sparking what has become a bitter battle as police maintain he committed suicide while his parents and relatives suspect otherwise. THOMAS KACHERE writes.
Born on September 12 1982, his parents and family members hoped that, like his grandfather before him, Nathan Gondwe would live up to the age of 90 years.
It was not to be.
The body of the only son in a family of two was discovered, lifeless and cold, on June 10 this year.
According to his father Nelson Gondwe, Nathan was dating a woman who runs a bottle store close to Nancholi Police Station along the Blantyre-Chikwawa Road.
“After arriving from work on June 10 2021, he went to check on his lover, who was at her business place at the time. His relationship with the lady [name withheld] was on and off. At one point in the past, he left my house to stay with the lover but, because the relationship was on and off, I later learned that he had started staying alone.
“On this material day, after knocking off from work, he went to check on his lover and people saw him drinking beer at his lover’s joint in the evening. We do not know what happened afterwards because he never came back home,’’ he said.
What Nelson knows is that Nathan’s body was found hanging in the drinking joint, which is in Nancholi Township in Blantyre.
And that meant the father no longer had two children, one male and one female; he now counts on his daughter, who stays in the United States, as the only child he has.
‘‘I have two children and Nathan was the one I was staying with because his sister is in the United States. He was a good son. He was always helpful to us,” he says, as if to flush out memories of June 11, when Nathan was found dead.
“What we have been told is that, after closing the bar, my son and his lover went for dinner somewhere we do not know. We have also been told that, after dinner, they decided to sleep in the bar and not at the lady’s house.
“We were also told that, at around mid-night, Nathan told the lady that he was going out to collect his clothes, which he would use when going to work in the morning.
‘We were told that, after leaving the premises, he did not return and that, at around 3am, the woman woke up to answer call of nature that is when she discovered that Nathan was hanging right in the pub. Surprisingly the woman did not cry for help; instead, she sat in the bed crying,” he said.
Nathan’s father added that, at around 6am, his sister-in-law got a phone call and was informed about the incident.
“She rushed to the scene. To her surprise, she did not find any object which Nathan could have used to hang himself, as happens in cases of suicide. Why the woman decided to stay for hours without crying out for help or report to the police station, which is about 300 metres away, nobody knows.
“What we know is that Nathan had bruises around the neck and we feel that something suspicious happened,” he said.
However, the lover said they were in good terms on the day of the incident, adding that they even had a good night sleep.
She wondered why family members from Nathan’s side were suspecting her of having anything to do with Nathan’s demise.
She said she is an honest person who has been operating her business for a long time because of her good reputation.
“I don’t understand why the family is not believing the actual version of events. On that material day, he phoned me, asking for a meeting; we met in town and we were just feeling happy in each other’s company. We discussed and ironed out our differences. I don’t know what happened to him but it was a normal day for us, with no quarrels.
“When, around 5am, I wanted to answer the call of nature and found him dead, I could not believe what I saw and, as such, I approached one of the callboys to help me understand what was happening,’’ she said.
Bernadette Rix, aunt to Nathan, than answers over the death. said they had more questions
‘Nathan was a good young man who was open enough to tell me what was happening to him. I don’t think there was a good reason for him to take his life. Days before the incident, he told me he was going to meet his lover to iron out their differences. So, if they met and discussed their issues, why would he kill himself? We want to know the truth. How can one, on a day they are supposed to reconcile with their lover, commit suicide in a bar? That is a puzzle to us,’’ Rix said.
Diana Gondwe, Nathan’s sister, said she could not come to terms with the death of a “loving brother”.
“Actually, after the incident, I released balloons into the air in memory of my brother, who I will remember forever,” Diana said.
However, Blantyre Police Station spokesperson Peter Mchiza said their report showed that Nathan committed suicide despite leaving no suicide note behind.
‘‘Our report shows that Nathan committed suicide by hanging. The reporter found him hanging and police officers, who visited the scene, confirmed it. In fact, the medical report showed that he died of strangulation,” he said.
Mchiza added that they were in the process of investigating the possible reasons that led him to commit suicide.
On August 29 this year, Nathan’s body was exhumed at HHI Cemetery for postmortem after the family obtained a court order.
Family members are hopeful that, once pathologist Dr Charles Dzamalala releases the report, the truth will set them free from the sense of sadness that looms over them.