15 April, 2018, 12:00 am
THE use of a 17-year-old’s death by some self-centred social media users for political gain is “extremely disturbing”, says Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu.
Mr Tudravu made the statement after an alleged police brutality claim in Lautoka went viral on social media where individuals claimed a 17-year-old student was allegedly beaten to death by police officers earlier this week.
Images of the victim lying in hospital and being carted in a body bag circulated on social media, but family members of the deceased broke their silence yesterday to call out those who circulated the pictures.
“It’s upsetting for us because we are still mourning our son’s death,” said a family member of the deceased who wished to speak on the condition of anonymity.
“We were surprised that pictures of him lying in the hospital were all over Facebook.
“He wasn’t assaulted or beaten up by anyone. He was sick before he left home to go to Lautoka for a volleyball tournament.
“None of us knew how serious his illness was. His parents got a call that he was admitted at the Lautoka Hospital because he was very sick. He passed away a little after his parents arrived.”
The relative said social media users should be careful about what they post especially when it was about a deceased person.
“They have to remember that there are relatives of the person who are grieving their loss.”
Mr Tudravu said police would be conducting an investigation into those responsible for the social media post. He said the extent to which social media users went to also bring disrepute to the force showed there were some people who would stoop so low for personal gain.
“The post on social media claiming police were responsible for the death of a 17-year-old student is another attempt to discredit the organisation and serves as another reminder,” he said.
“However, what is truly disturbing is the lack of respect shown for the student and his family who are enduring a difficult time with the loss of their loved one, only to find out that his death is being used by some cowardly individuals who hide behind fake profiles to gain attention.
“People sharing and commenting on the post are equally guilty of adding to the suffering of the grieving family.”
He said police had spoken to the family of the victim.
Mr Tudravu said police officers had been working hard in light of the destruction left behind by two tropical cyclones.
“This past few weeks our officers have worked hard and sacrificed time with their families to ensure people were safe during the two tropical cyclones.
“A number of our officers were also affected however they stayed loyal to their calling and worked throughout and ensure in rescue efforts and routine operations and this post is another attempt to discredit their hard work.”