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Court rules on Mujuru


Harare regional magistrate Walter Chikwanha will today make a ruling on whether or not an independent South Africa-based forensic pathologist will be allowed to come and examine a local pathologist, Dr Gabriel Alvero, on behalf of the late Rtd General Solomon Mujuru’s family.

Chikwanha is presiding over an inquest to establish what happened on the night of August 15, when fire razed the Mujuru farmhouse in Beatrice, burning beyond recognition a human being believed to be General Mujuru.

Mujuru family lawyer, Thakor Kewada, made a formal application seeking the court’s permission to invite an independent pathologist to attend the hearing and possibly examine the local pathologist.

The Mujuru family has so far told the court they were not certain of the identity of the human remains they interred at the national shrine – except that police had told them, without evidence, that the remains were those of the late Rtd General.

In an apparent quest to clear their doubts, the family has reportedly enlisted the services of prominent South African private forensic pathologist, Dr Reggie Perumal who is expected to quiz local pathologists and forensic experts at the ongoing inquest.

Mujuru’s daughter Kumbirai Rungano and his brother Joel have both cast doubts on the identity of the human remains the family buried.

Investigating officer Chrispen Makedenge however told the inquest DNA tests done through matching Kumbirai’s blood and the human remains found after the inferno left him with no doubt the deceased was indeed General Mujuru. Makedenge also told the court there was evidence the General died from inhaling carbon monoxide and therefore ruled out foul play.

The Mujuru family, in particular Kumbirai whose blood
was taken for the purpose of the DNA tests, however, say the results of the test were never disclosed to them.

Mujuru allies and some members of his family are reportedly suspicious the country’s most decorated army commander might have died before the fire that ravaged his Beatrice farm, judging from the evidence brought to court so far.

The inquest, which started on January 16, has seen 31 witnesses including experts in various fields giving evidence.

Last week, Kewada confirmed writing a formal application to have experts express opinions on the circumstances surrounding events of that fateful night.

He said: “The justification of this application would be that various experts will express various opinions on the same matter, and on behalf of the family there is a possibility of a different opinion of the cause of death.”

“He (Dr Perumal)may or may not agree with the first pathologist and questions may arise from there. On the question of whether to exhume the body the expert will tell us and we will rely on the opinion of the pathologist,” Kewada said.

The State did not oppose the application provided the reasons for bringing an independent pathologist were to assist in asking questions after the evidence by Dr Alvero, a government pathologist.

Chikwanha indicated he would make the ruling today after making it clear he understood Kewada’s application was not for the exhumation of General Mujuru’s remains.

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