March 18, 2014
By ANA SOVARAKI
The Fiji Corrections Service has denied claims circulating on social media alleging that assaults by corrections officers led to the death of inmate, Viliame Tawake.
In an official statement issued yesterday the corrections service stated that Mr Tawake had suffered from a short illness.
“Mr Tawake was in fact taken to the hospital on February 28 after suffering a short illness. He was released from the hospital on Saturday morning (March 1).
“(On) Saturday evening; he was escorted back to the hospital and was released on Sunday morning (March 2) after he was treated by the medical authorities.
“On Sunday night, his illness recurred and became more severe and while arrangements were still being made for his transportation to the hospital, Mr Tawake passed away.”
Meanwhile, Mr Tawake’s family is disputing reports on social media that he had severe injuries.
Speaking to the Fiji Sun yesterday, Mr Tawake’s wife, Maria Makarita, said they only saw swelling and blisters on the right side of his face and that he had also bitten his tongue.
“Na ka ga au raica rawa ni vuce tu na matana, e katia tu na yamena, e vuce tu na yasa ni gusuna i matau. E vaka tale ga e kama tu qai tu e loma na wai,” Ms Makarita said.
She said the family could not determine reports on social media that Mr Tawake suffered severe injuries because they were only allowed to see his body from his neck upwards in order to identify him.
“Keitou a sega tale ga ni vakaisulutaka na yagona baleta ni a tukuna na nasi ni sa malumu na yagona. A sa mani olo tu ga ena isulu, na plastic kei na masi,” Ms Makarita said. (We didn’t dress his body at the hospital because the nurse informed us that his body had become soft. It was wrapped in cloth with plastic and a masi (tapa cloth).
Ms Makarita said what really upset her was the fact that the corrections service did not contact her to inform her that her husband had been ill and was taken to the hospital twice before his death.
“He died on Monday morning (March 3) and when the officers came to convey the news of his death they informed me that he had been ill and was taken to the hospital twice during the weekend. Why didn’t they call me when he had been taken to the hospital?”
Ms Makarita said the family was still awaiting the post mortem examination result.