HomeLocalMujuru inquest raises more questions

Mujuru inquest raises more questions

However, the inquest has so far revealed conflicting statements from witnesses, and exposed the police for literally sleeping on their job at a time they were supposed to be protecting Mujuru.

Legal experts say nothing earth-shattering should be expected from the inquest as it was simply an inquiry into the cause of an unexpected death. Harare lawyer Rodgers Matsikidze said an inquest was different from a criminal investigation or trial where there is an accused person.

“There is no suspect in an inquest,” he said.  “It is simply an attempt to understand the circumstances under which a person would have died. Certain information may emerge during the inquest which can later be used as a basis for criminal investigations.”

Mujuru’s inquest, which is being presided over by magistrate Walter Chikwana, has so far raised more questions than answers with suspicions still lingering in the minds of many because of lack of clear account of what really happened on the fateful day on August 16 last year.

The inquest was told that Mujuru was protected by three police officers and private security guards, but Constable Obert Mark admitted that he together with Constable Lazarus Handikatari went to sleep at 9pm, leaving Augustinos Chinyoka on duty only to wake up at 2am when the farm house was ablaze.

Surprisingly, the police officers did not have communication radios or airtime to call for assistance in case of emergency. Mujuru’s family lawyer Thakor Kewada suggested the police could have left the General to die as they opted to run three kilometers to the farm compound to get information on the location of his bedroom, instead of smashing windows to try to rescue him.

Even Vice-President Joice Mujuru failed to understand how they could not have known the location of the bedroom, considering they had been at the farm for six weeks.

Private security guard Clemence Runhare said he heard the sound of gunshots on the night of Mujuru’s death and assumed that they were coming from poachers at a nearby farm.

He also testified that Mujuru was sober and accompanied by a male person when he arrived at the farm, but the police officers disputed this saying the General appeared drunk and was alone in his car.

Runhare’s account was corroborated by Rosemary Shoti, a maid at the farmhouse who also heard gunshots, but was told by Mark that it was sounds of asbestos exploding.

Shoti, who wept while giving evidence, also revealed that Mujuru was not happy with the police officers guarding the farm and wanted them to be replaced.

The inquest was told of the mysterious appearance of the bunch of keys found in Mujuru’s bedroom. The late General had told Shoti that he had left them in Harare. His car was also parked on the veranda side of the house which was uncharacteristic of him.

Shoti also ruled out the possibility that a candle could have started the fire testifying that Mujuru did not carry matches on that day. This is contrary to an initial theory by the police that suggested that a burning candle started the fire as there was no electricity on that day.

It remains to be seen what the remaining 22 witnesses will testify this week and whether any of them will provide a clue as to what really happened to Mujuru.

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