Villagers riot as police beat, ‘kill’ student

Mbeya. There are reports of a riotthat ensued on Friday evening between the police and residents of Lupa village in Chunya District, Mbeya Region, over the death of a Lupa Tinga Tinga Secondary School Form Two student.It was alleged that the police killed the student, Said Msabaha, after beating him up over accusations that he had stolen a mobile phone; whereby in retaliation, the villagers stormed and destroyed the out police post.

Eye witnesses told The Citizen on Sunday that angry villagers stormed and temporarily seized the out police post, ripping-off its roof, destroying the communication system including the Radio Call set, and a solar panel that powered it, before setting on fire three houses, two of which belonged to police officers and one to the man whose phone was allegedly stolen.Mbeya Regional Police commander, Advocate Nyombi, said from the scene yesterday that what the people did was illegal, and that the police have launched investigations.“The post-mortem will establish whether it was the police who caused the death of the student,” he said.

An eyewitness told this paper that among other things the angry mob did included setting on fire a liquor shop that belonged to a police officer. Reports further had it that those remanded at the station, including five Somali illegal immigrants, seized the opportunity to escape.

The Lupa Tinga Tinga village chairman, Mr William Mbawala, said he had talked to the deceased student before his death and that he had told him that the police had severely beaten him and three others for allegedly stealing a mobile phone.

Mr Nyombi could not ascertain whether the student died in the hands of the police or not, but confirmed that a life was lost triggering Friday’s riots. Further reports had it that a pacifying team formed by the villagers to talk to the Regional Crimes Officer (RCO), Mr Elias Mwita, demanded the immediate transfer of three police officers from the station as they accuse them of misconduct and brutality towards the people. They told him that the officers had the tendency of framing people with cases, apart from unreasonably harassing them.

“This is the third incident in the village. About four months back, a villager was beaten with a bar by the police only to die later while undergoing treatment at the Mbeya Referral Hospital,” said the eyewitness who requested anonymity.Mr Nyombi said no one had been arrested yet in connection with the Friday incidents and the priority was to restore peace and stability.
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