POLICE at Keetmanshoop are investigating the death of a teenager who fell into a coma a few hours after his release from custody and died days later under mysterious circumstances.
Marcelinus 'Tony' Katzao (19), a Grade 12 pupil at the Suiderlig High School, died yesterday morning in the Windhoek Central Hospital.
A relative of Katzao's, who preferred anonymity, said the doctors told them that there was bleeding on his brain caused by a heavy blow to the head.
Police arrested Katzao last Friday night for allegedly obstructing the police in the execution of their duties near Remember Inn Bar in the Tseiblaagte residential area.
According to bystanders, the police allegedly handcuffed Katzao and threw him into the back of their van.
Hours after his release he slipped into a coma at a house in the Krönlein residential area.
A relative said they suspect that Katzao went to the house to ask for a place to sleep after the police allegedly dropped him off at the nearby Rencia shop after his release.
Suspecting police brutality, Katzao's relatives are now seeking answers from the police.
"We want to know when he (Katzao) was released from police custody, and why the police had not registered a criminal case against him for allegedly obstructing them in the execution of their duties," the relative said.
The relative added that Katzao had blisters on his back which could have been caused by boiling water.
Towards the end of last year, Constable Gert Hendrik Titsol was found guilty on a charge of culpable homicide in connection with the death of Noel Thompson, who died of a ruptured liver shortly after he had been released from police custody at Keetmanshoop.
In 2010, seven Police officers were convicted of causing the death of another suspect, Makarius Iikali. An alleged beating during a prolonged interrogation at the Keetmanshoop police station led to Iikali's death.
Karas Police Commissioner Armas Shivute yesterday said an investigation into Katzao's death was at an advanced stage.
"According to several affidavits taken from police officers who were on duty at the time of Katzao's arrest and civilians, there is no indication of police brutality. If there is evidence linking the police with the death of Katzao, we cannot defend them," said Shivute.
Shivute said Katzao was drunk when arrested last Friday, and was held at the police station until he was sober and then released.
Shivute also brushed off claims that police had dropped Katzao at a shop after his release.
"Katzao was not escorted by the police, he and a friend with whom he was arrested walked back after being released from custody," said Shivute.