Zimbabwe: Hospital Conducts Post-Mortem Examination After Lawyers' Intervention

15 April 2019

An independent pathologist on Friday 12 April 2019 conducted a post-mortem examination on the body of Witness Mashereni, who died last month under mysterious circumstances after his family's lawyers successfully petitioned the High Court to be granted access to conduct the autopsy to ascertain the cause of death.

Witness's father Christopher Mashereni, engaged the services of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who through the family lawyer Fiona Iliff filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court on Tuesday 9 April 2019 seeking an order allowing authorisation of an independent pathologist to carry out the post-mortem examination on the body of the deceased person.

Witness died some few hours after being released from Harare Remand Prison, where he was detained after he was arrested on Thursday 14 February 2019 for alleged criminal trespass. For close to three weeks after his death, no post-mortem examination had been conducted to determine the cause of his death with Zimbabwean hospital authorities stating that they have no pathologists available to carry out the autopsy.

While Witness's family engaged an independent pathologist to carry out the post-mortem, authorities at Chitungwiza Central Hospital failed to provide authorisation for the pathologist to carry out the post-mortem at the state-run hospital or alternatively at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.

In her court application, Iliff argued that the post-mortem examination needs to be carried out urgently because Witness's body was decomposing such that the cause of death would be difficult to determine and his family which was mourning for the loss of their relative was eager to bury him.

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