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Widow left in the dark

Mere Naleba
Thursday, April 17, 2014

ONE month after an inmate died in his cell at the Suva Corrections Centre, his family is still in the dark on the cause of his death.

Viliame Tawake's wife Makarita Maria said she was notified of her husband's death on March 3. She went to the hospital the following day to be present while the pathologist conducted the post mortem examination.

Ms Maria said she was told by the doctor in-charge that she would be able to pick up the results after two weeks.

It is more than one month now and Ms Maria still doesn't know how her husband and father of their three children died.

"I don't know where else to go. I have tried contacting the doctor who was in charge of the post mortem examination but couldn't get through," she said.

Ms Maria said she found it hard to believe that her 35-year-old husband, who was jailed for nine months on January 18 this year, died because of dengue fever.

"The first time they pulled out the tray so that we could dress him at the morgue, I told the hospital staff that that wasn't my husband," she said.

"I was not able to identify him because his face was swollen and was purplish black.

"I told myself that could not be my husband."

She was only able to identify her husband because of his haircut and the birthmark on his face after viewing him a third time.

Fiji Corrections Service spokeswoman Kuini Waqasavou said Tawake died in his prison cell after a short illness.

"The Fiji Corrections Service refutes claims that have been circulating in the social media on the assault by corrections officers that led to the death of former inmate and the late Viliame Tawake," she said.

Mrs Waqasavou said Tawake was taken twice to the hospital on February 28 and March 1.

"He was released on Sunday morning 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," she said.

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