Mwanza Police Station has raised people’s eyebrows after it met the costs of the funeral of a 35-year-old suspect who died in their custody on July 5 2015.
Weekend Nation understands that on Saturday, July 4 2015, police arrested Steven George of Sayidi Village in Traditional Authority Nthache in Mwanza on allegations that he stole three chickens belonging to Peter Kapachika, also from the same village.
But George was found dead in his cell the following day before the police could record a caution statement.
A brother to the deceased, Paul Mwatchipha, said the police bought a coffin worth K50 000 ($100), provided transport and K20 000 ($40) cash to the bereaved family.
“We’re not being ungrateful but the manner in which this offer was made convinced us that there’s something that we, as a family, don’t know about this death.
“They were very swift to make offers even before the family complained that it had financial problems,” he explained.
He added: “The family feels cheated on what caused George’s death. We now suspect that the offer was made to silence us.”
Mwatchipha hinted that the family would seek legal advice on how it can demand justice on the matter.
“We are very devastated as a family because we believe George was not guilty until proven otherwise. We’ve lost a valuable relation and it’s not easy to come to terms with his untimely death,” he mourned.
Mwanza Police Station officer-in-charge, Benson Tawakali, confirmed the development in an interview on Wednesday but he dismissed suggestions that his office had sinister motives when it helped the bereaved family.
“We did it on humanitarian grounds. Mwanza Police Station enjoys a good working relationship with communities and we felt offering support to this family would be one way of maintaining this relationship,” he said.
But he could not disclose where the station sourced funds considering that police stations across the country are complaining of being underfunded.
He further disclosed that a postmortem conducted at Mwanza District Hospital showed that the deceased died from assault but he absolved his officers from any wrongdoing.
“We suspect that Kapachika mobilised people to assault the deceased before bringing him to us. We’ve since arrested and charged him with murder,” he said.
National police deputy public relations officer, Nicholas Gondwa, said it was irregular for the police to assist the family without being asked.
Gondwa said in normal situations, the police only pay for the postmortem on suspects.
“Anything beyond that has to be undertaken by the bereaved families. If the bereaved family can’t manage the costs, inmates are engaged to bury dead suspects,” he said.