Government will ‘thoroughly’ investigate the death in custody of one of the 11 suspects that were arrested in the capital last week for allegedly assaulting a police officer.
The Ministry Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services announced the death of Hilton Tamangani (29) on its twitter handle yesterday.
“Government would like to inform the public of the death in custody of an individual who was on remand in the custody of (Zimbabwe) Prisons and Correctional Services,” it said.
“The individual was remanded in a condition of unwellness and immediate medical care was sought for him and he was hospitalised.
“He was attended to by doctors. All deaths in custody are thoroughly investigated. We now await the result of a post-mortem to ascertain the cause of death. We wish to convey our condolences to the bereaved family and friends of the deceased. May his soul rest in peace.”
The deceased lawyer, Kudzayi Kadzere of Kadzere, Hungwe and Mandevere Legal Practitioners, claims his client succumbed to injuries sustained after he was assaulted by police. He, however, indicated that he had not seen the post-mortem results.
“The information that we have is that he was heavily assaulted by police with button sticks and booted feet at the time of arrest, and he succumbed to those injuries.
“The official report of his death is yet to come out and its not clear if he was receiving treatment while in custody,” he said.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he could not comment as the matter was subjudice.
“The case is before the courts and we cannot comment. Those allegations were also raised in court and the court directed us to investigate, so to comment on that issue will be contempt because its subjudice.”
Efforts to get a comment from Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) were fruitless yesterday.
Tamangani was arrested along with Evans Chinyanga (39), Tichaona Maziya (22), Petros Kaesa (44), Tafadzwa Madziwa (23), Lovemore Chitengo(42), Robson Mutseta (31), Hillary Nyawasha (29), Denford Mlambo (41), Blessing Chirodza (41) and David Tawanda Tekere (35).
The State alleges that the suspects pounced on a police officer , Tatenda Sibiya, who was standing at the intersection of Julius Nyerere Way and Kwame Nkrumah Avenue.
They allegedly took turns to punch and clap him, ordering him to leave ‘their’ area. Tamangani, the State alleged, stole a mobile phone, US$200 and $35 from the police officer during the scuffle.