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African News South Africa News Updates Zimbabwe: Mujuru Inquest - Policemen Testify

Zimbabwe: Mujuru Inquest - Policemen Testify Hot

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Innocent Ruwende

25 January 2012

POLICEMEN from Beatrice Police Station yesterday said the fire that burnt General Solomon Mujuru was bluish in colour and different from ordinary flames that were in other parts of the house.

Inspector Simon Dube and Constable Clatwell Garisayi said this at the inquest into the death of Gen Mujuru at the Harare Magistrates' Courts.

Const Garisayi, who was the 23rd witness, said on the fateful day, Gen Mujuru's maid Rosemary Short phoned him to report that the farmhouse was on fire.

"The caller identified herself as Rosemary Short and I asked her if they had managed to locate the General and she said they had only seen his vehicle that was parked near the house.

"She said doors were locked and further explained that the General had come to her house to collect some keys," he said.

Const Garisayi said he sent his subordinate to make a report to the duty officer who arrived with the officer-in-charge minutes later.

The officer-in-charge Inspector Dube, he said, made a call to Tavistock Farm's owner requesting for a vehicle to ferry them to Gen Mujuru's Ruzambo Farm.

He told Mrs Sharon Fero of the Attorney-General's Office that Beatrice Police Station had no vehicle.

Const Garisayi said he went to the farm with Insp Dube when the vehicle arrived.

Upon arrival after 20 to 25 minutes, people were using water to put out the fire.

"At the back of the house, people managed to identify a bluish flame. There was an object, which was burning. I peeped through the window and saw an object with folded hands . . . it was akin to a human body," he said.

Asked where the bluish fire was emanating from, he said it came from the body and areas surrounding it, adding it was different from flames in other parts of the house.

The bluish fire reportedly covered the body and a portion of about 30cm from the body.

Abayomi Azikiwe

Vice-President Joice Mujuru with her late husband retired general Solomon Mujuru.

Const Garisayi said they were instructed to douse the fire on the body and it took about 10 buckets to extinguish it.

He said upon pouring the first buckets of water, the flames became ferocious.

Const Garisayi said Deputy Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga arrived at the scene and instructed him to guard a door leading into the house.

When asked about the state of the body, Const Garisayi said, "I would say from the chest going downwards to the stomach, it would appear that the body was burnt such that fire got inside."

He said his superiors asked him and others to gather debris and they placed it in a plastic bag adding that some objects were hard while others contained ashes.

Const Garisayi said they took the debris to One Commando Barracks.

The 25th witness, Insp Dube, told the court that he has served the ZRP for 27 years and knew Gen Mujuru from the days of the liberation struggle.

He said he also knew him as a prominent farmer in Beatrice and a member of the Crime Consultative Unit in the area.

He said upon arrival at Ruzambo Farm, he saw people around the burning house.

He testified that one of the people who were fighting the fire said he saw a burning object and he went to investigate.

He said he saw a charred body, which was burning from both sides and instructed people to pour water over the body.

He said quite a number of buckets were used to extinguish the fire.

"The fire was bluish and the area covering the chest had flesh, but the bottom area was heavily burnt and on the head only the skull remained," he said.

Insp Dube said the body lay downwards.

He said he did not know the cause of the fire when he was asked by Gen Mujuru's nephew Mr James Mushore.

Mr Mushore suggested to him that people who went in to have a look at the body might have destroyed evidence.

Insp Dube denied the suggestion saying people viewed the remains from a distance and Deputy Comm-Gen Matanga would partially lift the blanket covering the remains for people to view.

He said the only people allowed to view the remains were police and members from the Zimbabwe National Army before conceding that some people might have also viewed Gen Mujuru's remains. The 21st witness, Mr Jimmy Maponga, who is the district information officer for Seke, did not give evidence in court.

His testimony was admitted into the record by consent of the State and the lawyer representing the Mujuru family, Mr Tekor Kewada.

It was admitted through Section 3 (1) (4) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act because it was similar to that of other witnesses --- Tongai Chimuka and Blessing Madzivire.

The 22nd witness, Mr Grant Nakhozwe, the owner of Moonlight Funeral Services and a neighbouring farmer, said on the fateful day he was sleeping when he received a phone call from a Maponga who is employed at Beatrice Hospital at around 4am.

He said he was advised that Gen Mujuru had been burnt in a fire at his farmhouse.

"I called my manager and told him to wait by his gate so we could go together to the General's farm. When I arrived at the farm, I asked the guards what happened and where they were when the incident occurred. The guards told me they only heard noise akin to gunshots," he said.

He said upon arrival, he met Vice President Joice Mujuru and she told him that the General had died in the inferno.

Mr Nakhozwe returned to his farm to collect a solar light, which he gave to a policeman.

He said when the policeman went into the house, he told him that he had found a body and he and the VP peeped through the window, but they could not tell whether it was a human body or not.

Mr Nakhozwe said Gen Mujuru's body was still burning and Insp Simon Dube told people to pour water over it.

He said he was interested in knowing the cause of the fire so he called a Zesa official, Mr Nyakungu who came 30 minutes later and inspected the house.

Responding to a question from Gen Mujuru's elder brother, Joel, Mr Nakhozwe said two security guards at the farm had told him that they heard gunshots.

The 24th witness, Asst Insp Jokoniya Zaza stationed at Beatrice Police Station and attached to police general security intelligence, said on the fateful day, he was instructed by his officer-in-charge to call the fire brigade and Beatrice Hospital for an ambulance after they heard the news.

"I called the fire brigade, but failed to get through, so I called Harare Central for them to get in touch with them," he said.

He said he followed to Ruzambo Farm when the ambulance from Beatrice Hospital came to the police station.

He said when he arrived at the scene, Insp Dube told him that Gen Mujuru's remains had been found and most parts of the house had been consumed by the fire.

He said when he accompanied VP Mujuru into the house, he could tell that it was lying facing downwards.

Today, a member of the ZRP Ballistic Department, the Fire Brigade and Zesa will give evidence.

After yesterday's session, VP Mujuru said an inquest was the best way of dealing with the matter as things were becoming "clearer and clearer".

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