Sihle was sane -family, friends
MBABANE – Family members of the late Sihle Bhembe who died in a police holding cell at the old Mbabane Police Station last week Saturday maintain that he never had a history of mental illness.
This is despite police suspicions that the deceased was mentally disturbed and met his death after banging his head against the wall in the holding cells.
The deceased’s brother, Bongani Bhembe, said when he (Sihle) was taken by the police from their parental homestead, his strange behaviour was not to the extent that he could have committed suicide.
He said police were now painting a bad and inaccurate picture of his brother because it now came across as though he was mentally challenged. Bhembe said his brother suffered a temporary attack, which resulted in him hallucinating. Bhembe said he felt that police’s adamancy in alleging that his brother’s death was caused by supposed mental illness made the family suspect that there was an element of foul play.
He said the family’s suspicion was that the police desperately wanted the public to conclude that the deceased committed suicide by banging himself against the wall. "The police are being coy with information as it remains a mystery how my brother banged his head against the wall without them hearing anything," he said.
Bhembe’s health was attested by some of the residents at Thembelihle, where he was employed as a gardener in one of the homesteads.
Most of the residents who spoke to this reporter said they remembered the deceased as someone who was down to earth.
They said they felt that the police should have taken Bhembe to a psychiatric centre instead of keeping him in a holding cell for such a long time.
‘Bhembe showed no signs of being ill’
MBABANE – On his last day at work, Sihle Bhembe showed no signs of being ill nor did he behave strangely.
He was employed as a gardener at the late soccer personality, Joseph ‘Jazz’ Shongwe’s home at Thembelihle.
A woman who was found at the homestead confirmed that Bhembe was employed there, but referred this reporter to a certain Make Malinga who declined to comment.
"I am sorry I am not in a position to comment on Bhembe’s death and I ask you to respect that," she said.
Some of the gardeners who work in the neighbouring homesteads at Thembelihle described Bhembe as someone who loved his job.
They said they were shocked to learn that he had passed on as they were with him on Wednesday that week.
One of the gardeners, Mandla Metfula, said when Bhembe left on Wednesday afternoon, he did not show any signs of being unwell.
"When I last saw him he was looking healthy and he did not complain of any discomfort, physical or otherwise.
"I was shocked to learn that he died at the police station," Metfula said.
Dr Malepe says stress can lead to strange behaviour
MBABANE - Doctor Thandi Malepe says a police holding cell is not like a hospital as a person’s stress levels can rise when taken into confinement.
She said when a person experien- ces an attack, it is necessary for that person to be immediately taken to a doctor so that the cause can be ascertained as soon as possible.
She said the police had a right to provide the potential patient with a form to determine his medical history prior to taking him to an independent medical practitioner.
"A person can sometimes behave in a strange manner not because he or she has a mental problem, but due to stress related problems or high blood pressure.
"People then assume that person is mentally disturbed," she said.
Doctor Malepe said there was a need to review the law governing the treatment of such people in the country.
Abasafuni kusebenta labantfu laba, yonkhe intfo lebenyanyisako bayayisusa emhlabeni. Lona nje bamsontsile kuyakhanya.
Jun 18, 2012, 6:03 AM, Q. Dube (qd@ymail)
The truth knows no bounds and master. One day the real cause shall transpire.
Jun 18, 2012, 6:03 AM, BROTHER LEADER DR SANELE (email@example.com)
From the word go i suspected foul play in this case. I should first note that although I'm not a qualified doctor or specialist, one thing i can say for certain is that when a person wants to commit suicide, they look for the fastest yet least painful way of killing themselves. The idea is to die as quickly as possible, hence we find that most suicides are done by overdosing on certain harmful substances, shooting ones self in the head, hanging by rope or anything usable to hang wih or even slitting the wrist which has the vein directly connected to the heart. My point? Banging your head against the wall is not a reasonable way of trying to end your life. Brain damage, yes, but not instant death. I stand to be corrected, though. I am highly doubtful that the deceased banged his head to his demise.
Jun 18, 2012, 6:03 AM, Gugu Phiri
The real question is why did it take the police more than two days to transfer the person to the pyschiatric center in Manzini. They should be held liable for his death because even if he died from banging his heal against the wall, it was because they did not send him to a health institution on time. To me that is negligence. A person who is mentally unstable is a danger to himself, and the police should have known that. Keeping him in a cell unsupervised and without proper medical attention amounts to gross negligence which in the end led to the death of an innocent man.The reason the public calls the police when there is a person with mental illness is that the police have the means (not sure about the training?) for taking the person to the relavent institutions, and not to a holding cell, and the responsibility of safe-guarding the safety of the people who are affected by the abnormal behaviour of the sick person and also safe-guarding the safety of the mentally ill person. Can someone please sue these police. Otherwise we will continue losing lives unneccessarily at the hand of the people tasked with preserving lives.
Jun 18, 2012, 6:03 AM, sibusiso (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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