A CORONER has returned a closed verdict, indicating that the 42-year-old woman who died at a Catholic priest’s house in Lusaka’s Kaunda Square died of natural causes.

Delivering a verdict, Monday, Coroner Judith Chiyaika said Monica Mulenga died of natural causes due to sudden cardiac arrest.

“I was aided by the doctor from Levy Teaching Hospital where the deceased was attended to Dr Chishimba Kaunda, state pathologist Adam Mucheleng’anga and Father Ringford Mwelwa’s testimonies to come up with the verdict. My findings were that Monica Mutale Mulenga died of natural causes due to sudden cardiac arrest. I, therefore, return a closed verdict,” said Coroner Chiyaika.

This was an inquest hearing before the Lusaka Subordinate Court to ascertain how Mutale died.

Mutale died on April 8, 2020 when she allegedly went to visit Catholic priest Ringford Abel Mwelwa of Christ the parish in Kaunda Square.

During hearing, state forensic pathologist Dr Mucheleng’anga testified that he did not find any injuries or toxic substances in the blood of late Monica Mutale.

He narrated that he received an order from Chelstone police to conduct a postmortem examination on a woman who had died at a Catholic priest’s residence.

Dr Mucheleng’anga said further examinations revealed that the victim suffered from hypertension based on the evidence from the kidney.

“Further examination under the microscope revealed that the victim suffered from hypertension BP based on the evidence from the kidneys. And also that the deceased had suffered from a bacterial infection or let me just say an infection in her kidneys. In our language we refer to that as Chronic Nephritis,” he said.

Dr Mucheleng’anga said he later took blood samples at the food and drug laboratory to check if there was any poison in the samples and the laboratory later sent him the results which revealed that there was no toxic substances in the blood.

He said given the circumstance in which Mutale died and the findings from the examinations, it was logical that she died due to a sudden cardiac arrest whose origin was not known.

And in his report, Fr Mwelwa who was suspended as a Catholic priest because of the matter, stated that he had invited the deceased to his place for a meeting they had earlier arranged.

Fr Mwelwa said he knew Mutale in 2017 when he used to work at St Maurice parish where she was a member.

He said on the material day, he phoned Mutale to remind her about the meeting they were supposed to have and she later requested to have tea for dinner when she got to his residence.

“I recall very well, it was 08th April 2020 at about 11:30 hours. I made a phone call to the deceased Monica Mutale asking her about the meeting that we had arranged when she went on leave. We arranged that we have lunch but since she had no car, we arranged to have dinner at my home. At 19:00 hours, I called her telling her that I was on my way to pick her since we arranged that I should go and pick her. She then said she will only have tea for dinner. I picked her at 19:50 hours and we reached home before 20:30 hours. I found that there was already hot water and I put that water in the flask. I got the bottle of honey, tea bags and a cup. She then started making the tea together with the Marie biscuits and I also got some biscuits,” Fr Mwelwa said.

“After drinking the tea, we then started chatting and during our conversation she said jokingly that she was feeling hot and after some time she said she was losing breath. She asked for windows and doors to be opened and asked for a fan which I brought. After that she asked for water from the fridge and I got the bottle of water which she poured on her body. She then asked to be taken to the clinic.”

He further explained in his report that when the situation got worse, he asked for assistance from his fellow priest to take Mutale to the hospital.

Fr Mwelwa said it was there that Mutale was declared dead.

“I went to inform my assistant from his room that our visitor was not feeling well and we need to take her to the hospital. We then carried her to the car and took her to Levy Mwanawasa general hospital. When we reached the hospital, she was attended to by doctors and after a while the doctors came and said they could not pump in oxygen due to some fluids in her lungs and she has passed on,” said Fr Mwelwa.