It was a dark Monday morning on July 13, 2015 with the population of Mbalangi, a village located about 7 km from Kumba on the Kumba-Buea highway in Mbonge Sub-division, Meme Division of the South West Region, where three members of the same family died mysteriously.
According to family sources, Mama Janette Cheche, 59, was discovered dead at her door at 10 pm on Sunday July 12, 2015. Her daughter, Lilian Lanji, 40, collapsed and died at about 10.30 pm as she was being transported to a nearby clinic in the same village. Lanji’s cousin, Eric Sembe, 40, who was running around making telephone calls to inform relatives and friends about the deaths of Mama Janette and Lilian Lanji, also collapsed in front of the said clinic and gave up the ghost after a few minutes.
Reports say before Eric Sembe’s death, he complained that in case he died, Justine Nji, the co-wife or ‘mbanya’ to Mama Janette, should be held responsible. According to sources, Mama Janette prepared food on that fateful morning, kept in the kitchen before going to church. After returning from service, she did not eat the food and instead rushed to attend a meeting. After the meeting, she invited her daughter, Lilian Lanji, whose house is just a hundred metres away, to dine with her alongside the cousin, Eric Sembe. After eating, they all separated but a few minutes later, a passerby discovered that Mama Janette had dropped dead in front of her home.
As the news got to Eric, he rushed to inform Lilian Lanji with whom they ate together, but met her rolling on the floor with foams coming out of her mouth. He then called the neighbours who tried to come to her rescue, but it was too late. As Eric was struggling to call and inform relatives, he also collapsed, with foams coming out of his mouth and later died in front of the local clinic.
The little children who lived with late Mama Janette Cheche survived the mystery deaths because they refused eating the food, saying they had earlier eaten enough rice in Lilian Lanji's house. It is alleged that Mrs. Justine Nji three weeks ago vowed to “destroy Mama Janette Cheche, Lilian Lanji and Eric Sembe and then go to jail.” Meanwhile, investigations have been opened to that effect. Simon Sombe, the Divisional Officer for Mbonge Sub-division, who visited the scene in the company of the State Counsel and a Medical Doctor, ordered the arrest of the main suspect, Justine Nji, for questioning on the deaths.
As at press time, the autopsy reports were not yet available, but it is suspected the dead might have eaten poisoned food. Meanwhile, the three corpses will be collected from the Kumba District Hospital Mortuary on July 18, 2015, and taken home for burial in Donga-Mantung Division of the North West Region.