Blantyre-based Nkhokwe Arts which is made up of ex-inmates has lost two of its key members, who died in the early hours of Sunday.
The two – Chimwemwe Foster, who was popularly known as Chigaza in the theatrical circles and Kumbukani Tembo—are reported to have been beaten to death following allegations that they were involved in theft.
Foster died at Thyolo District Hospital while Tembo died on the spot. Thyolo Police Spokesperson, Amos Tione, confirmed the death of Foster and Tembo. “I can confirm that the two were killed in mob justice. The two met their fate after they went to steal,” Tione said yesterday.
Sergeant Mike Mpopo, who had worked with the two at Chichiri Prison when they were starring for Chichiri Prison Cultural Troupe, Monday, said people had different versions of the death of the two.
“It is not yet clear as to what happened. There has been the version that they went to steal but others are saying this is not true; the two were beaten by people after they saw them with money and they thought they had stolen the money,” Mpopo said.
Another member of Nkhokwe Arts, Patrick Mbvundula, said the two went to Thyolo where Foster hails from, to drop the pigs he had bought. “Foster indicated he had started pig farming, so they were there to drop the pigs and upon their return, stopped at a nearby bar for drinking. It was whilst in the bar that some people noticed they had money and so they tried questioning them where they got the money and that is where a fight erupted.
The others were many and they overpowered them. Tembo died on the spot and Foster at the hospital,” Mbvundula said.
Veteran actor, Mphundu Mjumira, who is currently in Germany alongside another Nkhokwe Arts ex-inmate, Maxwell Makande, veteran actress Dipo Katimba, Felistus Kamloni and Noah Bulambo starring in a Theater Konstanz production of Wole Soyinka’s play King Baabu, said he was shocked with the death of Foster and Tembo.
“Foster was a committee member of Nkhokwe Arts, a strong and reliable actor. He was spotted at Chichiri Prison Cultural Troupe and was trained by Nanzikambe Art Club initiative and it is the same with Tembo, who apart from acting was a good drummer,” Mjumira said.
He said the two were lso part of projects such as Mapiri ndi Moyo, a play that toured the country, Bail Project and Ching’aning’ani.
“The two were also involved in Cedar tree project. Nkhokwe Arts as a group was formed out of prison. These people were trained to be actors and so it is a loss to Nkhokwe Arts and the creative industry. In fact, Foster was casted in King Baabu after Germany and was going to perform in Malawi,” Mjumira said.
Foster and Tembo were expected to be laid to rest Monday in Thyolo and Blantyre respectively.