A South African forensic expert yesterday told the inquest into the mysterious death of retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru exhibits from the fire scene he was given for examination could have been compromised.
Seonyatseng Jack Maine said the exhibits were packaged in plastic bags as opposed to the standard of putting them in metal uncorroded containers.
Maines evidence threw back the spotlight onto the way the police handled investigations into Mujurus death in an inferno at his Alamein Farm house last August.
Bethwell Mutandiro, the police forensic science director, and investigative officer Chief Superintendent Crispen Makedenge took the exhibits to South Africa.
Maine said his analysis showed there were no ignitable materials that could have possibly caused the mysterious fire on August 16.
However, he maintained since the exhibits were not properly packaged, he could not rule out contamination as the reason for his failure to detect potential inflammables.
When you attend to a fire scene, the way you collect, where you collect and the method of packaging the exhibit is very important, Maine told the inquest on the 11th day.
When samples are collected they are supposed to be packaged in metal uncorroded containers or oven bags because they trap the required material and keep them intact for successful examination.
In this case, the exhibits were packaged in plastic bags and chances are that they might have been contaminated, but I am not saying that is what happened.
Maine said his examination of the exhibits was centred on establishing whether there were ignitable liquids in the samples collected from Mujurus farmhouse.
Nothing was detected as inflammable liquids, but that does not mean there were no fire accelerants at the fire scene, he said.
He told regional magistrate Walter Chikwanha: If exhibits were packaged like that and you repackage them, chances are that you cannot get good results. Maine also said he could not have detected other possible causes of the fire since his method was only to detect ignitable materials such as petrol, diesel and paraffin.
Another South African forensic expert attached to the biological services, Dzunisani Porcia Chauke, said the blood samples and tissues that were presented to her for examination proved the charred remains found in the farmhouse belonged to Mujuru.
The former Zanu PF politburo members family saidit did not positively identify his body before his burial at the National Heroes Acre. Chauke said the male tissue and the female blood samples matched.
Probability of paternity is 99,90%, meaning the alleged father has 1 000 greater chances of being the father of the child, Chauke said.
Chief South African police forensic analyst Kgotlakgomang Ariel Lenong, who became the 34th witness to testify, said the exhibits collected from the generals house showed no inorganic or organic explosive materials. In response to the Mujuru family lawyer, Thakor Kewada, Lenong said his examination could not detect gases as the cause of the fire because it centred on identifying explosives.
Asked why his results showed no traces of explosives when spent cartridges and bullet heads were recovered from Mujurus main bedroom, Lenong said: If the ammunitions were subjected to open, intense flames, they would explode and the chemical inside burnt.
As a result, it would be difficult to detect the presence of such explosives, he said.
The inquest continues today with the Cuban pathologist, Gabriel Alvero, testifying.