No burial for murder victims


Murder victims in Zimbabwe cannot be buried until the country’s only forensic pathologist returns from a month-long leave in Cuba.

Dumisani Sibanda

This emerged following the murder of a Harare man from Mbare last Friday whose family has been advised that they could only bury their relative next month upon the return from leave of government’s only forensic pathologist, Cuban Gabriel Aguero Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, who was seconded by his government to work in Zimbabwe on a bilateral arrangement, is required to carry out a post-mortem on the suspected victim of murder to ascertain the cause of death as part of police investigations.

“I have my brother who was murdered on Friday in Mbare,” wrote the deceased’s relative.

“Thanks to the Mbare community, they were able to apprehend the (alleged) killer and handed him over to the police. Fine this (suspected) murderer is where he belongs, but my brother’s body is still at Harare Central Hospital awaiting postmortem from a doctor who is said to be in Cuba for a holiday and he is expected in November.”

Contacted for comment yesterday, Health and Child Care minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said: “This is a crisis. Forensic medicine is one of the specialist areas that have an acute shortage.

“As a country, we are faced with this crisis which I have had to encounter as I come into office. We used to have one in Bulawayo who would also cover Harare, but that pathologist is no longer there.

“We now have a precarious situation where we have one forensic pathologist. We are faced with this crisis and we need to correct this. That is why we are looking at introducing a Bill in Parliament for the creation of the office of the coroner. You know the coroner deals with the courts and murder victims.”

A coroner is a government official who confirms and certifies the death of an individual within a jurisdiction.

A coroner may also conduct or order an investigation into the manner or cause of death, and investigate or confirm the identity of an unknown person who has been found dead within the coroner’s jurisdiction.

The acting clinical director for Harare Central Hospital, Dr Alfred Mukosi, yesterday confirmed the development.

He said the forensic pathologist left a week ago for his home country, Cuba, to attend his mother’s funeral and was expected to be away on “compassionate leave” for one month.

“It is true that he is the only forensic pathologist and I understand for every murder case the police now require a post-mortem to be done by a forensic pathologist, not just any pathologist,” he said.
Though it could not be immediately established how many families had been affected by the development, last year 63 people were murdered in Harare alone.

According to media reports, in 2009 there was a pile-up of 30 bodies at Parirenyatwa Hospital following the departure of a Tanzanian forensic pathologist.


  1. Kindly educate me what is the difference between a forensic pathologist and an ordinary pathologist in view of the fact that the latter cannot conduct post motems of murdered people

    • GOOD ADVICE: Do something for yourself, for your family. Don’t waste your time talking politics while others are enjoying their lives with money without politics. See how this Zimbabwean poor woman became a millionaire just by buying and selling solar panels to the people in rural areas/villages so they can have electricity easily and very cheaply. Very interesting. Go to SOLARTECH [dot] CO, not [dot] com, to see the methods and companies she was using. SOLARTECH [dot] CO, not [dot] com, Wake up Africans

  2. Whether he was sick or not but he was murdered so why do you need forensic eveidence, to try to hide away from a crime. If you hit me in the head and I die you have killed me even if I am suffering from AIDS. You want the pathologist to say I have died of AIDS when it you who has killed me with a brick.

    • Maita you are talking from the viewpoint of common sense but then these scientific areas of specialty would prefer to argue from a different angle altogether.Like say,yes the “alleged killer” struck you on the head with a brick but then in a normal probability situation such a blow would not have been fatal enough to expedite your death had you not been afflicted by the AIDS virus that has drastically affected your immune system from such blows like the one meted out to you by the “alleged” killer.On a more serious note I feel having one forensic pathologist is untenable.We need to have one more expat whilst at least two of our own doctors understudy these guys with a view to becoming skilled in that area as well.

  3. Forensics means relating to, or denoting the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime: “forensic evidence”.

    Forensic pathologists are physicians with specialized medical and forensic science training and knowledge. They are commonly involved in death scene investigations, the performance of forensic autopsies (forensic autopsies have a different focus than that of hospital autopsies conducted in cases of natural death), review of medical records, interpretation of toxicology and other laboratory studies, certification of sudden and unnatural deaths, and court testimony in criminal and civil law proceedings.

  4. So what are all these universities for? Just to make ppl literate? We may boast about our education system but fact is it is seriously deficient. Isai Chinoz kueducation (kana apedza kubata mapere kuconstituency kwake) zvifambe!!.

  5. Unfortunately coz of our cultural beliefs we are not very comfortable in dealing with death hence a lot of ppe still prefer social, education, law, commerce related professions

  6. we elected legislators a few days ago,before a month in office,they have bought themselves state of the art vehicles already,why not sell some of the vehicles and use the money to train many pathologists,what are we doing in Parliament other than punching our fat fists in the air and slamming innocent tables,if this is what independence brought us then let the independence be eaten by wild dogs,its useless

  7. @ Fambai that is well said you nailed it spot on that what we see everyday with this useless legislators and the Parliament.

  8. “Handidi zvekufonegwa vusiku, kuoffice kwangu mokuziva, huyai kuoffice (I don’t entertain these late calls at night, you know where my office is, come to my office),” he said before hanging up.


  9. Surely our new government can outsource this. There are retired forensic pathologists in this country or in neighbouring countries that can be hired to clear the backlog up until the good old Cuban is back. Don’t worry about payment for the service as a handful of Chiadzwa diamonds is enough.

  10. Dai zviine mavotes mukati maishamiswa kuona mapathologists iwaya achisvika 5000 muZimbabwe…maleaders edu tipei maserious pavanhu vese vakadzidza kudaro kushaya kana 1 weduwo.vari busy kushandira dzimwe nyika nekuti yedu nyika will rather pay some fat goofs masquarading as politicians.

  11. And you continue wasting tax payers money to different parts of the world. Vanenge vachinoitei, thousands of students go overseas with our hard earned money and you tell me you never thought of training that forensic pathologist and other specialities that we don’t have in Zimbabwe. You sent kids to Rhodes University to study law, and some even go to Cuba, and you go on to bring a specialist from that country, can’t we just sent students there to train for these specialities. I have never seen such level of mismanagement and carelessness. Shame on you ministry of higher and tertiary education. Shame, shame, shame yakataurwa napresident kuUN.Mrs Olivia, onai zvekuita tapota.

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