Police quiz police over Mujuru death
By Nkululeko Sibanda
Police have questioned cops, farm workers, a maid and Zesa employees as investigations into the death of Retired General Solomon Mujuru at his Beatrice farm last week, intensify. Mujuru was husband to Vice President Joice Mujuru.
The police officers who were questioned were guarding Mujuru’s property, 60 kilometres from Harare when he was reportedly burnt beyond recognition with some body parts dismembered. Police are also keen to understand how power went off at the Mujuru farm house when he reportedly has a direct uninterrupted connection, a privilege for VIPs.
While police have decided to keep a tight lid on the investigation amid swelling speculation that Mujuru could have been murdered, the Daily News has been told that more than 20 people have been interrogated with the police officers guarding the premises on the tragic day being among the first to be questioned.
Police spokesperson, senior assistant commissioner, Wayne Bvudzijena told the Daily News yesterday that several people had been “interviewed” and said this was part of routine investigations.
“We are taking statements from anyone who had or has anything to say with regard to this particular incident. Any material witness will help in our investigations. As we have said, we are conducting investigations into the death. Those investigations are still on at the moment,” said Bvudzijena.
Asked if the police investigations have also included the family maid and police officers who were on duty at the farm on the fateful day, Bvudzijena said they had been “interviewed”.
“We interviewed them because we thought they might have something they could say which could help us in the whole investigation. It is not that they have been arrested or anything, but this is part of the investigations,” he said. Bvudzijena refused to disclose if police had made any arrests.
Last week, he revealed that police had made headway in the Mujuru probe, saying the results would be made public once they are concluded. Mujuru was buried at the National Heroes Acre at the weekend. President Robert Mugabe described the fire at Mujuru’s house as “inexplicable and horrendous.”
Zimbabweans have been questioning several suspicious circumstances around Mujuru’s death and this has been worsened by some family members who have decided to enlist the services of foreign experts to investigate the death of the popular Retired General. Some family members suspect foul play.
Yesterday, a specialist in home fires who spoke from South Africa questioned how authorities immediately identified Mujuru’s “charred remains” before any forensic tests had been done.
“It is dangerous in such situations to assume that because the house belongs to the late general, it means the charred remains are his.
Yes, 90 percent chances are that it was the general whose remains were found but that can only be certified after several tests are done. Maybe they are 100 percent sure that it was the general but they need to explain how they reached that conclusion without scientific evidence.
“They said he was burnt beyond recognition, so how did they conclude it was the general when he was not recognisable,” asked the expert.
Some of the property that survived complete extinction by the fire was reportedly removed from the house as the search for Mujuru’s body intensified which could mean that part of evidence could have been tampered with.
Mujuru’s death was met with anger by members of his faction who have for years been plotting to succeed Mugabe ahead of the other factions, notably the one led by the minister of Defence, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Vice President Joice Mujuru, who was acting president when the tragedy struck the family, called for calm amongst relatives and colleagues who had been raising pertinent questions over the incident. She said those querying the circumstances in which her husband died, should wait for investigations being conducted by the police before they can say anything.
Family members and colleagues in Zanu PF are, however of the view that there is need for an independent investigation into the incident. They believe that it was not true that Mujuru had slept to a point that he could not hear any signs of a fire breakout in his house. They said the room he was sleeping had windows without burglar bars and say it is strange that he could not escape through them.
Speaking at the national shrine on Saturday at Mujuru’s burial, Mugabe expressed “shock” that Mujuru could have been killed by a fire when he survived snake poison and being devoured by lions in the bush during the liberation struggle.
“Rex Nhongo. We believed in you yesterday when you led the trouncing of the whites. We celebrated with you. You played a great part in politics, you executed your role well as a Member of Parliament. You were a farmer of note.
“You ducked bullets and landmines during the liberation war. Even lions and snakes failed or hated to get you. But how did you allow this one (the fire incident) to take you away like that? I was afraid that Rex would be shot and killed during the war of liberation.
“I did not think that a fire would take you away in such a painful way. Go well, son of the soil. The very soil that you liberated in 1980 is the very soil that will consume you today. Rest in dear peace beloved commander of commanders,” said Mugabe.
A capacity crowd thronged the national shrine to bid the former army general, a befitting send-off which captured the imagination of the nation. The crowd that attended the burial rivalled the one that witnessed the burial of the late Vice President, veteran nationalist, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo. Nkomo died on July 1, 1999.
Among those who came to witness Mujuru’s burial were Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who suspended his boycott of Zanu PF heroes events saying Mujuru was a true hero. Also in attendance was music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi and several musicians, businessmen and politicians from different political parties. Daily News