KWEKWE — Police have admitted that they erred and failed to execute their duties well resulting in the death of Blessing Matanda in police cells in a suspected suicide.
Constable Philip Chikomichi told Kwekwe magistrate Letwin Rwodzi last Thursday at the opening of an inquest to establish how Matanda died that he had failed to execute his duties in line with laid down police procedures.
Matanda was found dead at Munyati police holding cells in October last year in a suspected suicide.
His family and 22-year-old wife Aquiline Kamanga have refused to accept the reported suicide and instead accused the police of killing him.
Chikomichi told the court that he had arrested and detained Matanda even though in his own view there was no evidence linking him to the crime he was being accused of.
“At the time there was no evidence linking him to the crime, but I had to arrest him because I was afraid the complainant would tell my bosses that I had not cooperated. I treated Matanda as a friend and put him in a cell without even booking him,” Chikomichi said under oath.
It emerged in court that Matanda had been detained in a cell which contained picks, shovels, bicycles, a bed and police uniforms and even possibly a gun which he is later alleged to have used to kill himself with.
Chikomichi told the court under questioning from prosecutor Eve Chinoda that he had left the cell unlocked because at the time he was treating Matanda as a “friend” not suspect.
“The cell was only locked by my boss when he came. This was after he removed everything that was in that cell,” he told the court.
Kamanga cried in court while asking Chikomichi why he had told her on the day of her husband’s death that she would be widowed and their son would be left without a father.
“You told me that my son would be orphaned and later my husband ended up dead. Can you explain those statements?” she asked tears streaming down her face. The inquest continues on Thursday with more police officers who were manning the police station expected to be called in.
Matanda, who had been arrested on suspicions of shop-breaking was found lying dead with a gunshot wound to his chest and a gun next to him in police cells.