Zimbabwe

DNA test results for Livingstone Sunhwa out

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) tests results have confirmed that the remains which were recently found in Manicaland belonged to Livingstone Sunhwa, who was a Form Four student at St Matthias Tsonzo High School in Mutasa.

The tests were conducted by the African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology (AiBST) which released the results to the police on Wednesday.

Sources close to the investigations said the remains have since been taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital where a proper post-mortem would be conducted before a burial order is issued.

The development comes after last month, pain and uncertainty had continued to haunt Livingstone Sunhwa’s family after results from the eagerly awaited Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) tests on his presumed remains came back inconclusive.

As a result, additional tests were then conducted to establish whether the remains are Livingstone’s or not.

Livingstone, who was a Form Four student at St Matthias Tsonzo High School in Mutasa, disappeared from the institution on December 6.

Prior to his disappearance, Livingstone had been arrested on theft charges.

He was, however, allegedly released as he was due to sit for his English final exam paper.

Unfortunately, he never showed up for the examination and had been missing ever since then.

On June 20, the Criminal Investigation Department, which is in charge of investigations, discovered Livingstone’s presumed remains a stone’s throw away from St Matthias Tsonzo High School.

Blood samples were collected from his mother, Ms Selina Tadya and sister Pride Sunhwa, together with part of the skeletal remains, for DNA testing.

DNA testing was said to have been inconclusive when it fails to produce information that allows an individual to be either included or excluded as the source of the biological evidence.

Normally, three types of results can occur in DNA testing – inclusion, exclusion, and inconclusive results.

Authorities revealed that results should have been released within 21 days, but the process dragged on for more than two months due to the putrefaction of the collected samples.

Putrefaction refers to the destruction of soft tissues that takes place shortly after death and is due to the action of micro-­organisms on the body.

Research shows that human decomposition begins just a few minutes after death via a process of self-digestion known as autolysis, with temperature, humidity, rain and the sun, among other factors, playing an important role in the process.

Therefore, investigators were forced to collect bone samples for DNA testing as the soft tissues like skin, muscles, nervous tissues and hair had decomposed and had been washed away.

Bones, including teeth, have a rigid structure that protects DNA from degradation or slows down the process by enclosing it in hard and protective materials.

However, the investigators have since learnt that the collected samples had been compromised by extensive exposure to the sun, the rain and the wind.

Discovery of the remains led to the suspension of St Matthias Tsonzo High School headmaster, Mr Maxwell Sambona, to pave the way for investigations

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