Zimbabwe regime confirms death of tortured vendor in police custody

HARARE – A Harare vendor was arrested by police last week following a raid has died in custody allegedly due to police brutality.

The Ministry of Information has said that the government was waiting for postmortem results to ascertain the cause of death of a vendor who died in police custody.

Posting on Twitter this afternoon, the Ministry said that all deaths in police custody are rigorously investigated. The post read:

Govt would like to inform the public of the death in custody of an individual who was on remand in the custody of Prisons and Correctional Services. 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 postmortem to ascertain cause of death. We wish to convey our condolences to the bereaved family and friends of the deceased. May his soul rest in peace.

Earlier reports suggested that the deceased, Hilton Tafadzwa Tamangani was among the eleven men who were arrested last week in connection with police assault allegations.

It is also alleged that he was “heavily assaulted” by the police with some arguing that he might have succumbed to injuries from the assault.

Hilton Tafadzwa Tamangani’s body was riddled with purple spots where police baton sticks struck him during his arrest and detention at Harare Central Police Station where he was tortured alongside 10 other vendors last week, NewZimbabwe.com has learnt.

The 29 year old Tamangani who had been denied access to medical assistance in spite of his dire situation was found dead at Harare Central Prison’s hospital wing his Lawyer Argency Gumbo has said.

Gumbo said Tamangani had to endure the pain especially on the night he was to pass on as the ill equipped medical facility for inmates did not have painkillers to give him.

Two more inmates, one with a broken hand and the other broken fingers are being denied access to health care.

“Hilton complained of severe pain yesterday (Friday) and was admitted in the Central Prison Hospital but those who were there could not do much in terms of assisting him medically.

“They indicated that they gave him a painkiller of some sort but his entire back had turned purple owing to blood clots,” said Gumbo.

News that Tamangani, father to a seven year old boy had passed in flooded social media Saturday with very little being shared of his last moments.

Added Gumbo: “The last they heard of him was him complaining of the pain and requiring something to help him sleep unfortunately they could not give him anything to help him sleep and today he woke up dead.”

The 11 vendors were arrested after they allegedly beat up three unnamed police officers in Harare’s CBD a few metres away from opposition MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai House headquarters.

Brother to the deceased, Terrence Bonde said it was clear that Tamangani had been murdered by the police.

“So far those who went to process his papers have been told to wait for a doctor who is in Bulawayo, they were told he will only be in Harare maybe on Monday with the postmortem scheduled for Tuesday.

“It is clear that he was murdered by the police,” said Bonde.

“Our parents have accepted this as fate, what can they do?”

The police have maintained the 11 are MDC members and went on to cordon off the area around the opposition’s offices.

Police Spokesperson Paul Nyathi referred all questions to Zimbabwe Correctional Prisons Services (ZPCS) who were not reachable.

“He died while in the (ZPCS) custody, call them, they are best placed to comment on this,” said Nyathi.

ZRP is third on the list of institutions in Zimbabwe accused of torture according to local rights watchdog, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (ZHRNGO Forum).