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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Irate villagers torch police houses

4th March 2012

All is not well in Mbeya region as another scuffle pitting police and Lupa Tingatinga villagers in Chunya district erupted on Friday evening, prompting villagers to burn down three police houses.

Source of the conflict emanates from the death of a student at Lupa Secondary School masterminded by police following his arrest in connection with alleged theft of a mobile handset belonging to one villager.

During the scuffle that lasted for about three hours the Lupa police station was also destroyed. Police officers who reside outside police quarters were not spared as their belongings too were retrieved from their houses before being burned by the angry villagers.

Speaking to The Guardian on Sunday over the phone yesterday Chunya District Commissioner Deodatus Kinawiro said the incident occurred from around 4pm to 8pm before police from Chunya district arrived at the village to quell violence.

He said it all started after police allegedly beat to death a Form II student of Lupa Secondary School identified as Ibrahimu Hussein Msabaha whom they had arrested in connection with the theft of a mobile phone handset.

It is recounted that having beaten the arrested student to death his body was stranded at the police station, an act that triggered violence.

Kinawiro said after the untimely death of the student some villagers organised themselves before storming the houses resided by police officers whom they accused of killing the suspect, burning them down.

“Having been informed about the incident, I rushed to the scene, including visiting the police station, I found the body of the student stranded there,” DC Kinawiro confirmed.

He said the violence started by the angry villagers burning tires before they stormed three police quarters. He said during the incident police vanished to unknown locations to save their lives before police from Chunya district arrived at the scene to quell violence.

He said the state security apparatus had launched a special investigation to find out the exact cause of the fracas, including assessing the loss caused.

Lupa MP Victor Mwambalaswa said the villagers’ wrath was instigated by an act of beating to death the student who was being questioned at the police station after he was arrested in connection with the theft of the handset.

Mbeya Regional Police Commander Advocate Nyombi could not give details when contacted as he was on his way to Chunya.

This is the second incident in less than three weeks for police to kill a student in Mbeya region as it may be recalled that mid last month (February 14) police in the region killed a first year student of Teofilo Kisanji University ( TEKU) after suspecting him of being a bandit.

Meanwhile Stephen Wang’anyi from Shinyanga reports that four members of a family on Friday night perished when their house caught fire as they slept at night at Misheni village , Ushirombo ward in Bukombe district.

Three other family members sustained grave burns and were rescued by neighbours, who were identified as the father of the family and two children. They were rushed to hospital and their condition was said to be bad. The mother of the family (aged 30 years) and three children died in the blaze, the dead children identified as aged five, four and slightly over 18 months for the youngest.

Villagers heard screaming and crying for help from within the blaze, some braving the fire to try and reach the trapped family.

Shinyanga Regional Police Commander Diwani Athumani said the accident occurred at about quarter to nine in the night, with the cause of the blaze believed to be a candle left in the sitting room, which reached a sofa set and finally the whole house was out ablaze.

Despite this assessment the RPC said the police were continuing with the investigation, cautioning residents on the use of candles and kerosene lamps when such lights are left burning during the night.

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