THE case in which a St Matthias Tsonzo High School learner allegedly disappeared following his release from police custody so that he could sit for his final English examination last year in December has generated debate, with the parties involved trading accusations.
The learner, Livingstone Sunhwa (19), had been arrested for allegedly breaking into the school’s tuckshop and stealing an assortment of groceries that were found tucked under his bed.
The incident happened against the backdrop of another break-in at the nearby Anglican Church’s tuck-shop, prompting the authorities to bring in the police.
During investigations, it is said the police discovered shoeprints and traced them to the boys’ dormitory.
All learners from the hostel were rounded-up and it emerged that Livingstone was the alleged culprit.
Since he was a major at law, Livingstone was taken to Mutasa Police Station for further interrogations.
However, he was due to sit for an English examination and it is said the headmaster, one Mr Sambona, and two teachers, made a follow-up and negotiated with the police for his release.
However, the boy disappeared the following morning, December 6th.
Six months down the line, his whereabouts are unknown and this has prompted his mother, Mrs Selina Tadya, to demand answers from the school authorities.
The church and the school say they have done everything possible to locate Livingstone to no avail.
The police, on the other hand, say they are treating Livingstone as a wanted fugitive from justice and a missing person.
While the matter has gone viral on social media, nobody has been able to disclose the whereabouts of Livingstone since December 6th.
Mrs Tadya, who is originally from Dangamvura, Mutare, and is currently based in South Africa, said the school authorities only contacted her after the police had detained her son.
“I am traumatised. Even if he had committed an offence, I was supposed to be informed of the action taken against him. The police arrested my son and they wanted him to disclose his accomplices, which he did not do.
“I pleaded with the headmaster to negotiate for his release so that he could sit for his exams while I work on the modalities to return to Zimbabwe and settle the matter with the school. I was ready to pay for the stolen goods.
“The headmaster picked my son from police custody on December 5 on the understanding that he would call me so that I talk to him, but he did not do that. He contacted me the following day, saying my son was missing and had not turned up for the English examination.
“This forced me to make haste arrangements to travel to Zimbabwe and I went to the school on December 12 and spent a week looking for him in futility. I then proceeded to Mutasa Police Station to lodge a missing person report,” she said.
Mrs Tadya added: “I suspect the school authorities had a hand in his disappearance. Why is the headmaster denying that my son was assaulted by the police? Why didn’t he take action when he went missing? He was the last person to be seen with my son and should account for his whereabouts. I am appealing for justice.”
Anglican Diocese of Manicaland registrar and spokesperson, MrAshel Mutungura said they did everything humanly possible to locate Livingstone to no avail, hence their decision to hand over the matter to the police.
“We are aware of the matter. In the morning of December 5, the tuck-shop assistant noticed that there was a break-in and some goods had been stolen. The incident occurred on the heels of another break-in at the church tuck-shop where Food and Nutrition ingredients and utensils for practical exams had been stolen. As a result, police were invited and during investigations they detected some shoeprints leading to the boys’ hostel.
“It was then discovered that Livingstone was the culprit after being found in possession of the stolen items. He was 19, and being a major at law, the police took him for further interrogations after he refused to disclose his accomplices. The next day, the headmaster and two teachers made a follow-up to the police to negotiate for his release so that he could sit for his English exam the following day.
“He was taken back to the school and was handed over to the boarding master around 6pm. He actually slept in the hostel, and left around 5am on the pretext of preparing for the exams. It was then discovered that he had gone missing.
“The teachers and ancillary staff formed a search party, but failed to locate him. We had to report the matter to the police since it involved a missing person. We have done everything humanly possible to locate Livingstone. Everyone wants to know where he is,” said Mr Mutungura.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Nixon Muzondo said is on ZRP’s wanted persons’ list.
“This matter was handled professionally by the police. The suspect was 19 and is treated as an adult. He committed a crime that was reported by the school authorities to the police. The stolen goods were recovered from underneath his bed. This is the evidence which linked him to the commission of the crime,” he said.
“We released him at the behest of the school authorities for the purposes of writing the examination, but he disappeared to an unknown place. He is on the police’s wanted list. We are treating him as a wanted person and a missing person,” said Inspector Muzondo.
He appealed for information leading to his arrest.