The much-awaited inquest into the death of Retired General Solomon Mujuru will begin on Monday at the Harare Magistrates’ Court, NewsDay can reveal.
The Deputy Secretary for the Judiciary Service Commission, Rex Shana, confirmed the docket was now within the jurisdiction of the courts and the hearing was set to begin on Monday and expected to end on Friday.
“Tentatively, the matter is set down to begin from the 16th to the 20th of this month. That will also depend on the availability of forensic witnesses from South Africa,” Shana told NewsDay yesterday.
The inquest is expected to bring into the open how Zimbabwe’s most decorated army general died in August last year. Mujuru’s charred remains were found in his farmhouse which had been razed down in an inferno whose cause has remained a mystery.
There was widespread suspicion of foul play as confusing and often conflicting statements were proferred from various quarters.
Mujuru, the husband of Vice-President Joice Mujuru, was a powerful Zanu PF official regarded in the party as the kingmaker. He led one of the two main factions in the party fighting to provide a successor to the ageing President Robert Mugabe.
The other faction is widely believed to be led by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Chief magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe, who is reported to be in possession of the inquest docket, could neither deny nor confirm the opening of the inquest. He declined to comment on the matter, preferring to refer questions to Shana. Guvamombe said :
“The matter is now before the courts and I cannot comment on anything about it, but you can contact the Judiciary Service Commission.”
Since Mujuru’s death last August, Zimbabwe has been gripped with anxiety over delays by the police to release the outcome of their investigations and the opening of the high-profile inquest.
The inquest is expected to determine whether Mujuru died before or during the fire and further establish what may have caused the inferno. After that, the court would recommend the way forward.
An inquest is a judicial investigation conducted by a judge or government official into sudden and unexplained deaths.
Mujuru, a key figure in Zanu PF’s in-house combat over President Mugabe’s succession, was 67 when he died.
The inquest docket is the culmination of a forensic inquiry, including a post-mortem and witness statements including those from officers who were manning his Beatrice property and other people that could have been present at the farm on the fateful night.