By Rebecca Chimjeka:
Until his arrest few weeks ago on suspicion that he was linked to the abduction of a 14-year-old Goodson Makanjira, a boy with albinism, in Dedza, Buleya Lule was selling smoked fish at Mitundu Market on the outskirts of Lilongwe.
Born in 1976, Lule migrated from Thyolo in the early 1980s to live with his elder brother who was a also businessperson at Mitundu
He did his primary school education at Mpasatsaphandu Primary School in Mitundu.
He did not go far with his education, prompting his elder brother to introduce him to fish-selling business.
He then married his first wife in the late 1980s and they had three children before the wife died.
Lule married his second wife, Charity, in 1999 and the family has five children, bringing the total number of Lule’s children to eight.
Charity told Malawi News in an interview Tuesday that Lule was a quiet and loving husband.
“We have been married for 20 years; and, at no point did I suspect that my husband could be involved in clandestine deals. He always came back home as early as 6pm every day unless he went to watch international soccer, which was his best hobby. He was a Chelsea fan,” she explained.
Charity recalled that, for the past 20 years, Lule’s business capital for his fish business never reached K500,000.
She said, initially, Lule would go to Salima and Mangochi to buy the fish. But after the capital got depleted, he started purchasing his fish supply at Lilongwe Market.
“There were times when we could not make ends meet as a family. He would struggle to provide for the family because his business did not have enough capital. He has never owned a car and he never had any driving skills. In fact, he couldn’t even afford a bicycle,” she added.
“The money he used to build this house was the profit he made some years ago when business was still good. When business was good, he could make K300,000, which he used to provide for the family and his old mother with visual impairment in Thyolo. I have lived with my husband for 20 years and I have to tell you that I have never suspected my husband being involved in any criminal activities. Never at any point in his lifetime was he arrested or answer charges in a traditional court,” Charity stated.
Charity recounts Buleya’s arrest
It was in the early hours of Sunday when they heard a bang on the door of their house.
She said she told her husband to go and check who was knocking.
When Lule opened the door, he found some men who said they were police officers who wanted to search the house.
“I asked them to produce their identity cards to prove if they were indeed law enforcers. They retorted, saying identity cards are none of our business. Then they started searching everywhere in the house, removing and throwing items in every direction.
“But it appears they could not find what they were looking for. So, I asked them to open every room to search. They asked my husband if his names are Luke Buleya. My husband’s response was, ‘I am Buleya Lule, not Luke Buleya’,” she said.
She said, within minutes, they dragged him to the police vehicle, which was parked a few metres away.
“I was not allowed to see my husband until two days before his death. I asked him if he was involved in such deals, but he could tell me anything tangible because he was in great pain. He simply asked me to buy him some painkillers.
“I remember there was a woman who was giving painkillers to his husband, he asked if the woman had more painkillers so that she could share with him. But she didn’t have enough. This was the last time I talked with my husband and all I need is the truth to prevail,” she recounted.
Mitundu Market Chairperson Lester Chikunje told Malawi News that Buleya was not a well-to-do person, all he had was a house made from mud bricks; he could not afford to build a house made from burnt bricks.
“I have been plying business with Buleya in the market for the past 20 years, there was no time Buleya could miss for two days in this market, he was not a well-to-do person, as he had no vehicle, he was just a fish seller, with a capital of not more thanK200,000.
“On a Sunday prior to his arrest, he was in the market before going to watch international soccer, I knew Buleya as not a violent man; he was a man who wanted peace, he was selfless, he could not condole gossip. If they are people gossiping, he just left the place and go home,” he said.
He said, because of his good conduct, people wanted him to represent them in various committees in the market but he always excused himself from such positions saying all what he wanted was to be in the background and let others lead.
On Sunday, during Buleya funeral ceremony, the block leader in the area described the death of Buleya as a great loss to the community and asked police to investigate the matter until after the truth is known.
The postmortem which was done last week Friday revealed that Buleya was tortured before his death.
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