South African expert says Mujuru death evidence ‘mishandled’

A forensic expert from South Africa, testifying at the ongoing inquest into the death of former Army General Solomon Mujuru on Thursday, said evidence collected from the scene may have been mishandled, compromising results of the forensic tests that followed.


Seomyatseng Jack Maine, from the South Africa Police Service, told the inquest that police collected evidence from the fire that killed Mujuru at his farmhouse last August, using methods that were far below professionally accepted standards.

He explained that the police should have used oven bags or a metal box, instead of the plastic bags they used to package debris from the fire, which was sent for testing and could have been compromised.

Jack Maine also testified that he found no accelerant in the materials that he tested, which were collected from the scene of the fire and sent for testing to South Africa by Zimbabwean police. He said extreme heat could have wiped out all traces of fire accelerants.

Earlier testimony by members of the fire brigade, who claimed to have seen a “bluish” flame that burned Mujuru to the bones and destroyed the farmhouse roof, suggested some kind of accelerant was used in the fire. Testimony by another South African expert revealed that no explosives were found in the pieces of debris tested.

The inquest continued on Friday with testimony from local pathologist Gabriel Alvero, after which the South African pathologist hired by the Mujuru family, Reggie Perumel, will then be allowed to testify.

Suspicion of foul play has surrounded Mujuru’s death from the beginning. The retired Army General was a considered a power broker within ZANU PF, leading one of the factions vying to succeed Robert Mugabe. Some observers say his wife, Vice President Joice Mujuru is widely seen as a contender. – SW Radio Africa News

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