By Tererai Karimakwenda
01 December, 2010
The MDC reported on Tuesday that Augustine Mahute, a party activist from Matapi Flats in Mbare Harare, died on Saturday night from injuries he suffered while in police custody. A statement released by the MDC said Mahute had first been attacked by ZANU PF youths and then by the police officers at Matapi Station, where the youths had taken him by force. The family said the police have refused to hand over a copy of the post-mortem report because they know the beatings led to his death.
Mbare MP Piniel Denga told SW Radio Africa that Mahute was buried on Wednesday at Mbudzi Graveyard outside Harare. He said ZANU PF youths were waiting at the site but heavy rain deterred them from causing any violence.
But Denga confirmed reports that violence had erupted on Tuesday when the ZANU PF youths blocked the entrance to Matapi Flats, where the family was to pay their last respects. He said the youths attacked MDC supporters who had come to console Mahute’s family, forcing them to run into the dirty sewerage of the Mukuvisi River. The police response was reportedly very slow.
The police have denied all the allegations about their beating of Mahute. Inspector James Sabau, a spokesman for Harare police, told Newsday newspaper that Mahute had ‘appeared too drunk and ‘received a few claps to make him talk’. Inspector Sabau claimed Mahute was assaulted by the relatives of a friend named Chamunorwa Mauye, whom he had been staying with but who had died last week. Mauye’s relatives accused Mahute of stealing his shoes and other items and they assaulted him when he denied it.
Mahute’s family told Newsday that police officers have behaved very suspiciously in regards to the whole affair. They did not even call the ambulance to help him.
Regarding allegations that the police had assaulted Mahute while in custody, MP Denga said a woman who was also detained at Matapi witnessed the assault and informed Mahute’s family.
“She said he was assaulted by police with the help of his accusers,” Denga added.
We were unable to reach Matapi police for comment.