Mujuru inquest halted

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The inquest into Retired General Solomon Mujuru’s death had to be halted yesterday after his widow, Vice-President Joice Mujuru, complained she had not been given access to the police investigations report prior to the hearing.

VP Mujuru pointed out on the second day of the inquest she had not been furnished with statements from witnesses lined up to testify in the inquiry as should have been the case.

This forced Harare regional magistrate Walter Chikwanha to postpone the inquest to today to allow her time to go through the police report.

VP Mujuru said she was never advised that she was entitled to see the report and statements from witnesses at least 14 days before the hearing opened.

“The concerns were that we were not furnished with the documents and it is very unfair for a lawyer or family members to see the documents during the day of the inquest,” she told journalists outside the court.

“I only want to say that someone might have faltered on their part. I am the wife of the late General Mujuru and firstly I would like to say I was not given a chance to see the statements from the witnesses so that I could possibly assist them.”

VP Mujuru also expressed shock that police or security guards at Alamein Farm in Beatrice, where her husband died in the mysterious fire that gutted the farmhouse on August 16, were ignorant of basic security procedures.

One of the three police officers at the entrance to the farmhouse that night, Obert Mark, told the court they were not familiar with the area despite guarding the property for six weeks.

Mark said they did not know where Gen Mujuru’s bedroom was situated.

He also found it difficult to locate the rooms affected by the fire from the maps provided by prosecutor Sharon Fero and family lawyer Thakor Kewada.

VP Mujuru said it was unfortunate police officers at the farm did not even know the map of the area they were supposed to protect.

“I am one of the persons in Zimbabwe trained in security issues and whenever one is posted to guard a place, they are told the importance of the place they will be guarding,” she told the court.

“According to media reports, these police officers had been deployed at the farm for six weeks. One would wonder how much they would have familiarised themselves with that particular area where they would be performing their security duties.”

Responding to Chikwanha’s questions, Mark said it was an oversight on the part of the police that they were not properly briefed.

“We were only told that we were supposed to safeguard the security of the now deceased and also make regular patrols of the place,” he said.

“We were supposed to be briefed where (Gen) Mujuru’s bedroom was situated, but we were not told anything and it was an oversight.”

It also emerged the police officers had overstayed their duty.

“The vehicle supposed to fetch us had not come to collect us (sic). We were supposed to leave and be posted to another place on August 15,” Mark added.