There were ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe two Swaziland police officers killed Luciano Zavale who had been arrested for allegedly having a stolen CD writer in his possession, a coroner has ruled.
Zavale, a 35-year-old Mozambican barber popularly known as Melusi, died at Manzini police station.
The coroner, former Hhohho Principal Magistrate Nondumiso Simelane, said in a report, ‘death was caused by the deprivation of air into the lungs (respiratory distress) through the outer orifices, being the mouth and nose’.
Simelane said, ‘I am satisfied that reasonable grounds do exist for suspecting that the death of Luciano Reginaldo Zavale was caused by the criminal act and/or culpable or negligent conduct of the two investigating constables, being 6432 D/Constable Nhlanhla Nkambule and 5709 D/Constable Ndumiso Myeni.’
Simelane referred the case to the director of public prosecutions to take such action as he deemed fit.
Zavale made international news after he died in police custody on 12 June 2015. Police took his body to the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital where they told nurses that he had been found by members of the public along the road at Coates Valley.
Pathologist Dr Steve Naidoo told the inquest Zavale died after his breathing was obstructed externally through suspected smothering and his lungs, instead of drawing air, drew blood from nearby veins and filled up.
He said Zavale had several injuries on his body, including a scraping at the back of his head, superficial abrasions on his arm, cheek, back, as well as internally, his neck and lungs.
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