‘Mujuru body was in flames’

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The inquest into the death of Retired Army General Solomon Mujuru entered its fifth day yesterday with farm workers describing how they found the late commander’s body still on fire in the farmhouse.

Tawanda Madondo, a gardener at the late Mujuru’s Alamein Farm, Beatrice, told the court yesterday several buckets of water had to be poured onto the body as they frantically tried to extinguish the blaze.

Madondo was being examined by the late Mujuru’s nephew, Tendai Mundawarara, who wanted to find out how they eventually put out the fire from the General’s corpse.

“It was at 02:20am in the morning when a police officer came to my house and asked me to accompany him to the farmhouse to show him the now deceased’s bedroom at the main house.

“We poured several buckets of water on the body in order to put out the fire,” said Madondo.

“I believe it took 30 minutes to get to the scene and when we arrived, all the people at the scene said the body of the deceased had not yet been found.

“Later, while we were still trying to put out the fire, one of the police officers indicated he had seen the body of the late Mujuru in a room at the back of the house and water was supposed to be poured on that particular spot.”

Madondo added: “I did see the body of the deceased through the window. I saw a black object, but the shape of that object was indicative of the shape of a human being.

“At that point in time, the body was still burning and water was then poured on the remains by a police officer from Beatrice.”

A clerk at the farm, Steven Harineyi, also told the court when the fire broke out, they were at the farm compound, some three kilometres away, and were woken up around 2am by one of the police guards who wanted assistance in locating the deceased’s bedroom.

Harineyi said: “It was at a later stage as we battled to put out the fire that a police officer located the body. At the time I saw the body, it was still on fire. I could see embers on the body. Water was poured and the remains were covered with a blanket.”

Mujuru family lawyer Thakor Kewada queried why police officers — instead of first trying to gain entry into the house to look for the General — decided to run three kilometres to the farm compound to get farm workers to show them the exact location of the late Mujuru’s bedroom. The police officers on duty were constables Obert Mark, Augustinos Chinyoka and Lazarus Handikatari.

“It means it would have taken one hour or one-and-a- half hours for the policeman to come and collect you from the farm compound to simply go to the main house to identify the late Mujuru’s bedroom.

“Would it not be reasonable that instead of coming to your compound, the police would have smashed windows and tried to save the General? Would it not be fair to say it was a total waste of time for the officer to come to your compound to simply collect you to identify the deceased’s bedroom?” Kewada asked. Madondo concurred with the lawyer and said the time wasted by the police officer could have been profitably used to break windows and doors to try and locate the late General.

Other witnesses who testified yesterday included Emmanuel Musona, a welder at the farm, Ewiri Biara, a security guard, Sarudzai Nyakudya, a receptionist in the Department of State Residencies, and Samuel Gamanya, a manager at neighbouring Blackstone Farm.

So far, 20 witnesses have taken to the stand and 22 more are expected to testify next week. The inquest was adjourned by regional magistrate Walter Chikwanha to Tuesday next week.