Policemen who retrieved the late Retired General Solomon Mujurus remains from his gutted farmhouse yesterday disclosed there was a gaping hole in the generals abdomen and that the body was engulfed in blue flames.
Constable Cletwell Garisai of Beatrice Police Station and the officer-in-charge, Inspector Simon Dube, told the court about this on the sixth day of the inquest into the death of General Mujuru.
Garisai said Mujurus charred body was engulfed in flames different in colour from surrounding flames and there was a hole in his stomach. The Generals corpse, he said, was lying face down with both legs and arms severely burnt.
The two also told the court the flames that engulfed Mujurus body were so intense that when they poured water on the bluish flames, they would re-ignite and start all over again. They had to pour at least 10 buckets of water to douse the flames.
Some people (who had gathered at the scene) identified a bluish flame in one of the rooms and I peeped through a window and saw an object which resembled a human body with . . . arms folded as if to cover the face, as it lay prostrate on the floor, Garisa said.
The bluish flame emanated from the body, suffice to say the colour of the other surrounding flames was different from the one around the area of the body and the flame was emanating from the remains of the body and also 30cm around the body, and there was smoke coming from the abdomen, he said. Dube concurred with Garisais assertions while giving evidence before regional magistrate Walter Chikwanha.
Garisai said together with other constables only identified as Manokore, Gonti and Mhundwa they were tasked by Deputy Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga to remove the Generals remains and put them in a bodybag.
At around 11.00am on August 16, we were given a plastic bag in which to place the remains. We wore hand gloves, overturned the body and two police officers lifted the body from the shoulders, while the other two lifted it from the knee-point.
Right from the chest to the stomach, the body had been severely burnt, leaving a hole in the stomach. The legs were burnt up to the point before the ankles.
The same applied to both arms, which were burnt up to the point before the wrists. We were then instructed to gather all debris remaining within that point, which we then placed in plastic bags.
The debris comprised hard objects and ashes that were then taken to One Commando Barracks, said Garisai.
Dube said when they cordoned off the area, the late Mujurus relatives and ministers, including Vice-President Joice Mujuru, Air Force Commander Perrence Shiri, former Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa, Home Affairs co-minister Kembo Mohadi and others had arrived and had viewed the charred body.
It was then that the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) officers arrived at the scene led by Chief Superintendent Chrispen Makedenge at around 4.45am. He came with the ZRP forensic personnel. There was a doctor or pathologist at the scene, Dube said.
The pathologist examined the body before the remains were removed and placed in a coffin and later taken to 2 Brigade, One Commando mortuary, where Doctor Annamore Jamu certified the remains were that of a human body, he added.
According to Dube, the only area that still had bits of flesh on the Generals body was the chest.
Part of the lungs had been burnt and the head only had the skull remaining, said Dube.
It also emerged during the inquest that Beatrice Police Station did not have transport from March 2011 up to August 16, the day Mujuru died, as their only vehicle had been taken to Chivhu for repairs.
Beatrice police had to phone a neighbouring farm to ask for transport assistance in order to attend to the scene and it took them approximately 30 minutes to get to the farmhouse, said Dube.
Mujurus family lawyer, Thakor Kewada, told the court while examining Garisai, if the late Mujurus maid, Rosemary Shoti, had not telephoned Beatrice Police Station to report the fire, it was highly unlikely the police guards at Alamein Farm could have done so.
Other witnesses who testified yesterday included Assistant Inspector Jokonia Zaza of Beatrice Police Station, Jimmy Maponga, employed at Beatrice District Hospital, and Grant Nakhozwe, owner of Moonlight Funeral Services and Blackstone Farm, which is near Alamein Farm.
According to Nakhozwe, when he interviewed the late Mujurus guards (two of them), they revealed they heard sounds akin to gunshots before they were told a fire had broken out at the farm. After yesterdays session, VP Mujuru said the inquest was progressing well.
Its becoming clearer and clearer what happened and the inquest is proving to be the best way of handling the matter, VP Mujuru said.
Three expert witnesses from the police ballistics department, fire brigade and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority are set to testify today. It is not yet clear whether or not VP Mujuru will testify.