A Doctor Mysteriously Dies in Police Custody
Angola’s Doctors’ Union led around 100 protesters in a march through the city centre in Luanda on Saturday to denounce police brutality and demand an investigation into the suspicious death of Silvio Dala in police custody after he was arrested for driving without a face mask on September 1 — i.e. supposedly breaching anti-coronavirus regulations.
Police claim Silvio Dala, 35, suffered a heart attack while he was in custody. However, questions were raised after Dala's body was sent to the morgue covered in blood with scarring to his head.
Many Angolans Are Fed Up
Lenia Silva, a patient, aired out her frustrations with the Angolan police, "Who do we finally have to turn to, who do we have to ask for help? Who are you that we need? Police, stop doing this. The medical community is really sad, we are really sad."
Protesting doctor Rodrigo Joao deplored the death of a fellow healthcare professional who could have "served the nation for many years." He said while denouncing the officers' lack of "humanity," "We need to draw attention to this mistake and correct it so that a citizen will not lose his life next time."
At the end of the march, which saw hundreds of demonstrators chanting and hanging visual displays of fake blood-stained medical garments, the Doctors' Union president Adriano Manuel reiterated calls for clarity around the circumstances of Dala's death, "We will pursue our mission," Manuel vowed as he addressed the crowd. "We will bring (the case) to court next week because we have concrete proof that our colleague did not die of a heart attack."
Angola's government imposed sanitary restrictions in March to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic with soldiers deployed to help police implement the new rules.
But many Angolans continued to frequent mass markets and water points breaching curfews and gathering bans — mostly out of necessity. As for many, poverty and lack of access to basic services outweighs concerns about potentially catching the virus.
According to Amnesty International, at least seven young men have been shot dead by police and army officers between May and July.
Doctor Dala is believed to be the latest victim of security forces violently enforcing lockdown rules in the southwest African country and people are calling for the Interior Minister to resign as they demand that the government put police reforms in place.