IN yet another case of suspects dying under suspicious circumstances in police custody, a Mhondoro family has refused to bury their relative who was allegedly beaten to death by local police officers who had arrested him last week.
Report by Phillip Chidavaenzi, Senior Reporter
The family of Eric Chivhunga of Gora Village, Mhondoro, is demanding a full explanation of circumstances surrounding his death and possible compensation before they can bury him.
Chivhunga was reportedly arrested allegedly after a scuffle with security guards at a local farm where he had gone to collect logs for his brick-moulding furnace.
Some of his relatives and other villagers, however, said Chivhunga, a known MDC-T supporter, was killed for his political affiliation and the firewood story was a cover-up.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday confirmed the death, but could not give details of how or where Chivhunga had died, save to say the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was handling the matter.
“Yes, I can confirm that a case of murder has been filed with the police. Investigations have already commenced under CID,” he said.
Chivhunga was allegedly arrested at Gora Business Centre by four police officers based at Mubaira Police Post on October 21 this year.
The deceased’s mother, Esnath Taderera, said they only received information early the following morning that her son’s body had been discovered a few metres from the police post.
“We received information that someone has been murdered near the police station so we went there to check and met a car with people carrying his body to the mortuary,” she said.
The police allegedly told the family they had released Chivhunga around 7pm the previous evening.
Chivhunga’s relative, Job Akele, told NewsDay in an interview at the village on Monday that the family was in the process of engaging human rights lawyers to help them with the case, which was filed under case number RRB 1179388 at Mubaira Police Station.
“The police never gave us any information. When I went to the PGHQ (Police General Headquarters in Harare), I was referred to Norton, where they assured me that they were carrying out investigations,” he said.
Chivhunga’s brother Julius Janyure, said the least the police could have done was to come and pay condolences.
“When the police brought the body here in a metal coffin, we refused to allow them into the homestead as we wanted a full explanation before we could accept the body. They went back with the body promising to return, but they never did. They never even attempted to apologise, let alone to pay their condolences even as they knew and saw the family gathered for the funeral,” Janyure said.
“They are trying to protect their colleagues, but human life is sacred and cannot go in vain like that. No amount of firewood is ever worth anybody’s life.”
Chivhunga is survived by his pregnant wife, Dudzai, and a 13-year-old son.