A Mutasa magistrate has ruled out foul play in the death of Livingstone Sunhwa, a Form Four student at St Mathias Tsonzo High School in Mutasa District, whose remains were found in a bush several months after his disappearance from the school.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office ordered an inquest into the death at Mutasa Magistrates’ Court after Livingstone’s sister, Pride Sunhwa, who was also attending school at St Mathias High School, claimed that he was assaulted by the Police and school authorities shortly before his disappearance.

In his ruling, as reported by The Manica Post, presiding magistrate Artwell Sanyatwe said evidence that had been presented before him suggested that Livingstone committed suicide by hanging. Said the magistrate:

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.

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.

Most of the witnesses who testified before me appeared to turn a blind eye to Livingstone’s behaviour and character.

Evidence that 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 the 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.

Sanyatwe said his assessment of Livingstone’s sister’s statements in court and to the police were not consistent. He said:

The statement to the police alludes to the use of a police [baton] in beating Livingstone several times on the back.

It also suggests this happened in her full view and in the staff room.

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.

The minor sister’s statement was critical as it appears to point to foul play, hence its analysis and assessment were paramount in the determination of this matter.

The rationale was 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.

Livingstone’s father died under unclear circumstances while working in a mine in Mozambique.

Selina Tadya, who is the mother of Livingstone and Pride, lost her husband almost a decade ago and said was looking up to Livingstone to be the father figure for the family in future.

Tadya was based in South Africa where she was working while her two children were borders at St Mathias Tsonzo.