A MUTASA magistrate has ruled out foul play in Livingstone Sunhwa’s death and concluded that he took his own life.
Livingstone was a Form Four student at St Mathias High School in Mutasa District when he disappeared from the institution on December 16, 2021.
His remains were found six months later. As a result, and following orders from the Prosecutor-General’s Office, an inquest into his death was ordered at Mutasa Magistrates’ Court, particularly in view of his sister’s statement to the police.
Livingstone’s sister, who was also attending school at St Mathias High School, claimed that she saw her brother being assaulted by the police before his disappearance.
In his ruling, presiding magistrate Mr Artwell Sanyatwe said the availed evidence suggested suicide by hanging as testified by the police.
“There is no doubt that Livingstone exhibited signs of truancy, which in my view contributed to his demise in this instance. He either could not stand the embarrassing conduct of being arrested at the school in full view of his peers or feared the worst, hence his decision to take his own life,” he stated.
Mr Sanyatwe added: “Detectives who dealt with the matter both testified on the findings at the scene of the recovered human remains which they said were found about a kilometre from St Mathias Tsonzo High School in a secluded and bushy area.
“A piece of cloth was found hanging from a tree, which matched a broken piece of cloth found among human remains or bones. Tests were conducted to establish whether these were Livingstone’s . Their evidence was corroborated by expert tests and analysis, although the cause of death could not be ascertained.
“With that in mind, the only logical conclusion that may be drawn is that the cause of death was due to suicide by hanging.
“The chain of events taken cumulatively from the time of the deceased’s arrest, being taken to the police station, then back to the school and leaving the dormitory on the following morning supports that conclusion or the findings above,” he said.
Mr Sanyatwe said it was important to address Livingstone’s behaviour.
“Most of the witnesses who testified before me appeared to turn a blind eye to Livingstone’s behaviour and character. Evidence which emerged from this inquiry suggests that the deceased lacked parental care.
“He was previously expelled from his former boarding school before being enrolled at St Mathias Tsonzo High School. He was expelled from that school having stolen some food from the school’s dining room.
“He also went missing from that school, only to be found after two days loitering outside the school premises. This was exactly his same conduct at St Matthias Tsonzo High School. There is no doubt that he exhibited signs of truancy, which in my view contributed to his demise,” he said.
Mr Sanyatwe said his assessment of Livingstone’s sister’s statements in court and to the police suggests that there were two versions of the same story.
“The statement to the police alludes to the use of a police button stick in beating Livingstone several times on the back. It also suggests this happened in her full view and in the staffroom.
“On the other hand, her testimony in court suggests otherwise, that she did not perceive or witness them going to the dormitory and could see her brother, Livingstone, being beaten and thereafter could not see him until after night studies when she saw him talking to the school headmaster,” he said.
Mr Sanyatwe said he had a torrid time in directing litigants on the objective or purpose of the inquest as most thought that the purpose was to find the killer.
“The minor sister’s statement was critical as it appears to point to foul play, hence its analysis and assessment was paramount in the determination of this matter.
“The rationale being that all other witnesses’ statements did not point directly to suspected foul play as they were either not present at the school upon the deceased’s arrest, or did not perceive anything which suggest foul play,” he said. – Manica Post