9 January 2013

Zimbabwe: No Closure On Mujuru Case

RETIRED General Solomon Mujuru's family has not found closure after the decorated soldier died in a fire at his farm in Beatrice over a year ago amid indications that the case has died a natural death.

Family lawyer, Thakor Kewada who represented the Mujurus at an inquest into the death of the late general last year told The Financial Gazette this week that there were no new developments on the matter.

"At the moment there is a standstill. I can't say much about it right now although I hope we will be talking again in the near future," said Kewada.

After the inquest, the Mujuru family had appeared to be pushing for the exhumation of the late general's body for a second autopsy.

Following the release of the inquest report last year, Kewada had called for closure in the case saying the issuance of an unsatisfactory conclusion on the investigation into the retired liberation war hero's cause of death was bothersome and left a lot of questions unanswered.

At the time, he said at the top of his options was "taking the matter up on review or appealing to the High Court of Zimbabwe".

But in a previously unpublished interview with this paper close to the anniversary of the general's death, Kewada indicated that the issue was delicate.

"Everybody is treading carefully. Far too many things are happening at the moment but I can't tell you what it is that is happening. We are getting close to the anniversary. We are hoping something will happen before then. I will inform you as soon as I get the go ahead," he said at the time. That was in August last year. Nothing was ever made public if ever anything happened.

Joel Mujuru, the elder brother of the late general, could not be reached for comment this week but he recently told one daily paper that the family was still pushing for answers over the mysterious death of general Mujuru. But it is not clear now whether the case would be pursued to its logical conclusion or has completely died down.

Although magistrate Walter Chikwanha who sat as coroner at the inquest ruled last year that there was no suspicion over the general's death, the family issued statements through their lawyer expressing their dissatisfaction with the verdict and called for the exhumation of Mujuru's remains to facilitate a second autopsy by an independent pathologist.

Citing varying testimonies made during the inquest, the family claimed that Mujuru had died under yet to be determined circumstances.

The general's maid, for example, reported hearing gunshots well before the fire broke out. Also, private security guards about 300 metres from the house also thought that they had heard gun shots, but could not be sure.

The policemen guarding Mujuru's farm house from about 20 metres away claimed to have either been asleep or to have heard nothing. Similarly, whereas the security guard manning the entrance to the farmhouse said Mujuru had been accompanied by another man in the front passenger seat, police officers at the farm told the court that Mujuru was alone on the night in question, but added that there had been a jacket hanging in the car.

As a result, the Mujuru family was left with more questions than answers as to what happened that fateful night.

This would not be the first "unexplained death" of a high profile figure. Relatives of high profile figures who died in mysterious circumstances such as Josiah Tongogara have remained unconvinced by the official explanations given for their deaths, with Angeline Tongogara, recently demanding to be taken to the site of her husband's death as a means of getting closure.

The widow of the late Brigadier-General Paul Amstrong Gunda, Rangarirai Gunda was recently quoted saying she would not be silenced in her quest for answers about the death in 2007 of her husband in a mysterious train crash.

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