2002 accident victims hopeful of compensation

14 years after a fatal road accident involving Mzimba Secondary School students at Kasitu while on their way to Chikangawa to play a football match, the victims are hopeful they will be compensated by government for the injuries the accident caused.

The accident occurred on February 16, 2002 after a three-tonner lorry carrying the students from Mzimba Secondary School overturned at Kasitu before Chikangawa. 25 students died on the spot out of over 70 the vehicle was carrying.

Speaking in an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana), a representative of the survivors, Hannock Ng’oma, said the accident had left so many students in a state of shock as they had sustained life-threatening injuries.

However, the victims have not been duly compensated up to now.

“On February 16, 2002, 78 students of Mzimba Secondary School were involved in a road accident at Kasitu on their way to play football at Chikangawa in Mzimba,” Ng’oma said.

Shortly after the accident, former Malawi President, Bakili Muluzi, gave each of the surviving students K10, 000 as way of sympathizing with them, but Ng’oma, who lost a daughter in the said accident, felt the students needed compensation.

He disclosed that there are on-going discussions between the Office of the Attorney General and the said students through their lawyer Victor Gondwe of Jonny Tennyson and Associates.

Last month, some victims of the accident went to Mzuzu High Court led by their lawyer, to get feedback on the progress of compensation from the Attorney General’s office.

“We are sad we can never see our daughters and sons again. In fact we can’t help but agonize on what they would have been today if that accident never took their lives,” Ng’oma pointed out.

Lawyer Victor Gondwe, who is facilitating the compensation process with the office of the Attorney General, confirmed he has been in contact with the Attorney General and that he, with the victims, were waiting for the final outcome.

However, he did not disclose the exact amount of money each victim would be compensated, saying doing so would be in contempt of court.

Nevertheless, Gondwe said as is always the case; the degree of injuries sustained as shown by assessment would determine the amount of money each victim would receive.

“It’s really true we have been in contact with the office of the Attorney General. I can’t go into all the details because doing so will be in contempt of court, but all I can say is that we’ve been assessing the degree of injuries each survivor sustained,” he said.

According to the lawyer, tracing students who survived has been challenging. He said since they were many, they could not be easily located considering that 14 years had now passed since the accident occurred.

The case was brought before the AG’s office in 2004.

Source: Malawi News Agency – MANA