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‘Gen Mujuru house fireproof’

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The mystery surrounding the death of Zimbabwe’s first black army commander, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, took a new twist on Thursday following revelations the farmhouse in which he perished in an unexplained inferno was “fireproof” and a genuine fire could not gut it down easily.

The former owner of the farmhouse in which Mujuru met his fate, Watson Smith, said: “Our house was a sprawling single-storey building, roofed entirely with asbestos sheeting (which was common in the 1950s when it was built).

“Of course, that makes it absolutely fireproof, and the walls were brick and cement. All that could have burned was roofing timbers and ceilings, and to imagine the fire spreading quickly without help is hard to do.”

Smith, who left the farm in 2001, said one could not have been trapped in the bedroom as there were many exit points.

“Our main bedroom alone had three doors out of it and four double windows. How do you get trapped inside that?” he questioned.

The revelations came at a time Acting President Joice Mujuru on Wednesday appealed for calm, urging people within and outside Zanu PF to stop speculating over the gruesome manner in which her husband died.

“I appeal to you to avoid too much history and talking bad things and listen to good things. It makes us not to comment on what will make us unable to stand up tomorrow.

“We agreed with Solomon every time that even if we hear anything coming from anywhere, we won’t comment whether it’s a lie or not. Only one person will comment, good or bad,” she said.

Emotions have been running high since Mujuru’s tragic death on Tuesday. Mujuru was a key figure in Zimbabwe’s succession battle.

Smith left the farm at the height of land seizures by government, along with nearly 4 000 other white commercial farmers.

He unsuccessfully fought to repossess the farm, becoming the first white farmer to take a land occupier to court.

The ex-farmer claims he lost assets valued at $1,7 million which included 460 head of cattle, 600 game animals, vehicles and irrigation equipment to Mujuru.

However, Smith joins the growing list of those suspecting Mujuru’s demise could have been the work of his political detractors in the fractious former ruling Zanu PF party.

The unexplained horrific manner in which Mujuru died has heightened the avalanche of conspiracy theories.

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