MALAWI: Catholic Church to Honour Late VP Klaus Chilima, Former First Lady Shanil Dzimbiri and Eight Others

By Wesley Omondi

LILONGWE, JUNE 15, 2024 (CISA)—The Catholic Bishops of Malawi have expressed profound shock and sorrow over the tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of the state’s Vice President, Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima, former First Lady Shanil Dzimbiri and eight others, while also directing Masses to be held in their honours on June 16, 2024, across Malawi.

In a communique dated June 11, the Catholic Bishops extended their sincere condolences to the entire nation. They offered their sympathies to Madam Mary Chilima, the widow of Klaus Chilima, and her children, as well as to the families and loved ones of the other victims.

“Until their untimely death, Right Honourable Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima and Madam Patricia Dzimbiri were practising and dedicated members of the Catholic Church,” said the bishops, adding “They came from families that were built and grounded on the Catholic faith, ethos, and values.”

The loss of Dr Chilima, a significant figure in Malawi’s political and social landscape, along with Madam Dzimbiri and the others, has left a deep wound in the hearts of many, with the bishops highlighting the sense of profound grief and mourning that has gripped the nation.

“At their death, our hearts are torn, wounded, and the nation mourns Right Honourable Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima, Madam Patricia Dzimbiri, and others with deep grief,” the bishops noted.

In light of this tragedy, the Catholic Bishops called upon all priests to hold a Eucharistic celebration on Sunday, June 16, 2024, in all Catholic Churches across Malawi. This collective act of prayer aims to seek the restful repose of the souls of  Chilima, Dzimbiri, and the other victims.

The bishops emphasized the importance of unity and prayer during this mourning period: “May the Almighty God grant strength to their families as we mourn them. We call upon all Catholics and the broader community to join us in prayer for the departed souls,” they stated.

The military plane carrying Chilima and nine others disappeared on June 10, after it failed to land in the northern city of Mzuzu due to bad weather and was told to return to the capital, Lilongwe.

“The search and rescue team have found the aircraft … completely destroyed with no survivors, as all passengers on board were killed on impact,” Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera said in an address to the nation on the evening of June 10, 2024.