SA murder victim's body to be repatriated from Malawi

2015-07-09 15:54
Harry Wakeford (File, Facebook)

Harry Wakeford (File, Facebook)

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Durban - The body of South African national Harry Wakeford, who was killed in an armed robbery at a campsite in Malawi at the weekend, will be repatriated on Thursday.  

“The body has been booked into a South African Airways flight back to South Africa and that flight will leave Lilongwe in the early afternoon. His cousin has been booked on the same flight and she will accompany Harry back to South Africa,” said Warwick Bruce Chapman, who was travelling with Wakeford.  

News24 reported earlier that Wakeford was shot and killed when he was accosted by robbers who forced their way into the tent of a female travelling companion in Karonga, Malawi.

The Ballito man had reportedly been with Chapman, executive director of information at the DA’s head office, and a team of others who travelled through Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, and Rwanda to the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The group had reportedly set up camp at a lodge after one of the vehicles in their convoy had broken down.

Grateful to High Commission

Chapman said Wakeford’s family was relieved at the news that the body would finally be returned and were exceedingly grateful to the South African High Commission, the department of health, his insurance company and other agencies in Malawi who assisted with the repatriation process.

“After landing in Johannesburg, his body will be transferred to another SAA flight and will then travel to Durban. Then the funeral director responsible for the memorial service, which will be held next week Friday, will take over,” explained Chapman.

He said the biggest challenge was getting parts to fix his father’s broken gearbox.

“The parts are hopefully being flown in from South Africa today. Toyota Malawi, through their general manager, is trying to prioritise us so we doing everything that we can to get the parts off the airplane,” said Chapman.

He said Toyota had promised to reinstall the gearbox on Friday morning. “We want to start heading back home on Saturday afternoon or Sunday.”  

Chapman said they faced their biggest challenge in the beginning when the police in Karonga were nervous about releasing the body to be transported to Lilongwe.

“It was a murder investigation in Malawi and understandably the custody of the body was quite tight so eventually a compromise between the insurance company and the police was struck… We had to drive back to Karonga to the scene of Harry’s murder to negotiate all of this with the police.

“In the end the insurance company agreed that it will be refunding the police for transporting the body to the Lilongwe Kamuzu Central Hospital where the autopsy was done,” explained Chapman.  

High Commission did 'fancy footwork'

He said at first the team had trouble getting hold of the South African High Commission over the weekend because people were on leave and Monday was a public holiday in Malawi.

“We give all credit to the SA High Commission and the South African department of health; they really did some fancy footwork to assist us get the permit needed as soon as possible to get Harry on to a flight in such a short space of time.

“We are really appreciative because things are really going well and there are a lot of people to thank along the way. Now we just need to get the vehicles fixed and get back to South Africa.”

Chapman’s brother Jason and another friend will be joining the family tomorrow evening.

“They are coming down to boost the morale and we could use a change of scenery, we’ll be very happy to see them. We hope to arrive in Durban via Mozambique as soon as we can, which is three to four days after we leave Lilongwe.”

Chapman said the team wanted to make it in time to attend Wakeford’s memorial service.

“It has been a harrowing experience for Harry’s friends and his extended family. It’s not something that should happen to anybody, to be attacked like that and gunshots flying around, or to watch your friend and family member being shot. It’s really an absolutely horrific experience.

“The Wakeford family have lost a father and a husband and I think Malawi has lost a great deal as well. They call themselves the warm heart of Africa and understandably we are all having difficulty to identify with that,” said Chapman.

Read more on:    malawi  |  crime  |  southern africa

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