News / Africa

Controversy Surrounds Inquest Into Former Zimbabwe Army Chief's Death

Zimbabwean deputy President Joice Mujuru, left, leaves the Harare magistrates court accompanied by her daughter Kumbirai in Harare,  January 17, 2012
Zimbabwean deputy President Joice Mujuru, left, leaves the Harare magistrates court accompanied by her daughter Kumbirai in Harare, January 17, 2012

The inquest into the 2011 mysterious fire death of Solomon Mujuru, Zimbabwe’s former army chief and liberation war hero, is hearing testimony from some 40 witnesses. The proceedings in Harare will go into next week - longer than anticipated.  Some controversial and also contradictory evidence on several key issues has marked the inquest this week.

Rosemary Short, Solomon Mujuru’s housekeeper, testified that the relationship between him and his police security detail had soured and he complained they were reckless - including randomly discharging their weapons.  

The retired Army chief’s home in Beatrice, south of Harare, was guarded by both police and a private security company. Some question why Mujuru did not escape the fire that that killed him last August with such a protection force.

Testimony from staff, police and private security this week as was frequently contradictory about the events immediately preceding the fire.

The guard at the outer perimeter gate said Mujuru arrived home in a light truck, sober and accompanied by a male passenger. But the police officer at the inner perimeter gate testified Mujuru was drunk, alone in the vehicle with a suit draped over the passenger seat.

One police officer testified that he and two colleagues were actually sleeping before they were alerted to the fire - prompting criticism from widow and Vice President Joice Mujuru.

“So this person in particular was wrong in sleeping on duty," she accused. "Taking circumstances in which these things happened, it is really shocking. And you say to yourself, is this how a person can discharge himself when he is supposed to do his duty.”

Vice president Mujuru - speaking outside the inquest venue - also complained that her family and lawyers had not been given access to key court documents until after the inquest began rather than the required 14 days ahead.

“The concerns were that we were not served with papers that we were supposed to as from yesterday," she noted. "So it is very unfair for a lawyer or for the family to then follow the proceedings. So for them to then continue with whatever supposed to be done, was going to be unfair on the part of the family.”

There has been speculation that a candle or a cigarette may have caused the fire - that killed Solomon Mujuru, 62, on August 16.

But housekeeper Short testified Mujuru did not smoke and there were no candles, matches or cigarette lighters in the bedroom - where the blaze is believed to have started.

His widow and others have said the bedroom had large, low windows and doors with access to the outside -so they cannot understand why he did not escape.

Testimony continues next week into the death of this hero of Zimbabwe’s liberation war - who had a key role in helping President Robert Mugabe into power. They had a falling out in 2008 - possibly because it became widely accepted that Mujuru was pushing for his wife to replace the aging president.

Some analysts say that despite her husband’s passing, Joice Mujuru is the only senior member of the ZANU-PF party, including Mugabe, who could actually beat Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a free and fair election.

The three main parties including the MDC and ZANU-PF have been in a so-called "inclusive" government since 2009.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid