The doctor who certified the deaths of 11 children that perished in a boat cruise disaster at Lake Chivero on Christmas Day was in court yesterday to testify in the trial of the boat owner and others being charged with culpable homicide.
Dr George Frank, who is an assistant commissioner with the Zimbabwe Republic Police, denied allegations that he acted as a pathologist when he examined bodies of the children.
Frank told the court that he carried out an external examination of the bodies which examination could have been done by any other practising medical practitioner.
“I was invited to the scene by the Officer Commanding Support Unit, Senior Assistant Commissioner Tanyanyiwa to assist in the certification of the deaths of the members of the public who had been involved in an accident,” Frank said.
“I am not a specialist pathologist and I am not qualified to carry out internal post-mortem. I certified the eleven dead because there was glaring evidence on the cause of death which was asphyxiation due to drowning.”
However, when Prosecutor Michael Reza produced as exhibits, photographs of the deceased children taken just after the bodies were retrieved from the lake, relatives of the deceased children could not contain their emotions and burst into tears.
Under cross-examination by Hamios Mukonoweshuro, who is representing boat owner Latif Aneer and another accused Fadil Ramon, Frank said if the cause of death was not due to unnatural cause such as drowning, he would have made an application for an internal post-mortem to be carried out by a qualified pathologist.
On the previous hearing the trial failed to continue after the defence lawyers, Mukonoweshuro and Yaqub Ali Jogee claimed autopsy reports were compiled by an unregistered pathologist, but yesterday they were accepted as exhibits.
Aneer and Ramon are being charged alongside Joseph Abrahams and Enock Zulu on 11 counts of culpable homicide before provincial magistrate Tendai Mahwe. The trial continues today.