Mujuru Inquest Ends, Court Dismisses Exhumation Request

The high profile enquiry into circumstances that led to the mysterious death of former retired army General Solomon Mujuru ended Monday morning with presiding magistrate Walter Chikwana emphatically dismissing a family request to have Mujuru exhumed for re-examination by an independent pathologist.

Joice Mujuru
Joice Mujuru

In his ruling, Chikwana described the request filed by family lawyer Thekor Kewada as tantamount to arm-twisting him to violate the Inquest Act which does not empower his court to grant such an order.

Chikwana said such powers rested with the Home Affairs Ministry.

He further berated Kewada for "putting the cart before the horse" through his request to bring another pathologist when his court was still yet to analyse the evidence brought in by Cuban doctor Gabriel Aguero Alvero, who conducted the post-mortem.

Chikwana said Kewada was violating provisions of the Inquest rules which state that “no person shall be allowed to address the magistrate as to the facts”.

He cited submissions made by Kewada while requesting permission to bring in a South African pathologist as tantamount to pre emptying his ruling on the matter.

“The role of a lawyer is simply to assist the court to come out with a more conclusive outcome and not to analyse facts brought in by other witnesses,” said Chikwana in his ruling on the exhumation request.

“It is not the responsibility of the court to make orders in the manner requested by Mr Kewada. To do so is acting outside the ambit of the Inquest Act. In light of this I am dismissing your request.”

In earlier submissions, Kewada had asked criticised the evidence led by Alvero who had told court he had failed to make any conclusive findings as to the cause of Mujuru’s death due to that he was not adequately equipped to carry out a thorough post-mortem and that the late Mujuru’s body was so severely burnt that a more conclusive post mortem could not be conducted.

Kewada further asked the court to ignore Dr Alvero’s evidence and further questioned the latter's professional credibility, saying he was not properly registered to perform such practice in Zimbabwe.

“Opinions made by Kewada as to the Dr Alvero’s evidence are not shared by this court,” said Chikwana.

“The court is still yet to analyse Dr Alvero’s statements and more statements by other witnesses. It is only after the analysis of all the evidence that the court would know what transpired.”

Vice President Mujuru said she was not disappointed over the ruling.

“No I am not. Because they have not done anything,” said Mujuru after she was asked by journalists if she was any disappointed by the court decision. “They are yet to give us the ruling. Today is the end of the inquest but the ruling is yet to come.”

On his part, Kewada said he had no hard feelings about the bashing he received from the magistrate but mulled taking his request further.

“Whatever criticism was made of me I have got broad shoulders, I take it on,” Kewada also told journalists after the court adjournment.

“I think we have played our part I will accept the magistrate’s criticism as he puts it. I don’t think he intended to say anything other than saying well 'look this is what the Act says and what the rules say'.”

He added, “I think we have exposed a fair amount of information and we will see if the magistrate agrees with us when he gives his ruling and recommendations to the Attorney General. “We will study the magistrate’s ruling on the matter and will take our decisions then.”

Chikwana did not state the date he was going to rule on the matter but said he will present his findings to the Attorney General in accordance with the laws governing inquests.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mujuru and the widow to the deceased, the last witness (number 39) in the inquest that took over two weeks, was not asked to take to the witness’s stand but her affidavit was read in court.

Post published in: Africa News

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