Mugabe general 'killed in blaze' cannot be exhumed, says court

Mystery surrounds death of Vice-President's MP husband in suspicious fire at home

Testimony at an inquest into the death of one of Zimbabwe's most powerful men has ended with the court refusing appeals from his family for his body to be exhumed. The retired General Solomon Mujuru died in a fire at his home last year but a court hearing into his death has done little to lift suspicions that he was murdered by political rivals.

The inquest is being watched for signs of divisions in Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party, where General Mujuru's wife, Joyce, was among the leading candidates to replace the veteran President. With the backing of her husband's fortune – much of it in diamonds and farms seized from white owners – Mrs Mujuru has been Vice-President for the past eight years.

For much of that time the Mujurus have been locked in battle with the Defence Minister, Emerson Mnangagwa, to be seen as successors to Mr Mugabe. The sudden death of the man who led Mr Mugabe's forces during the guerrilla war against the white rulers of Rhodesia has created fear and confusion among the small elite who have ruled the country since independence.

Mr Mugabe has just returned from an African Union summit where he failed to win support for plans to hold an election this year without implementing any of the reforms called for in the deal that set up Zimbabwe's power-sharing government.

Despite retiring from politics, Mr Mujuru, who was given a state funeral last August, had strong support in the ruling party and was one of Mr Mugabe's potential rivals.

No date has been given for a verdict in the inquest but questions have been raised over its conduct. The Mujuru family criticised the court's decision to appoint a Cuban doctor who does not speak English and arrived in Zimbabwe seven weeks ago to perform the autopsy. They appealed for the body to be exhumed so their medical expert from South Africa could examine it.

In a translation of his testimony, Dr Gabriel Alvero said the deceased man appeared to have died from smoke inhalation but admitted that "considering the state of the body", his findings could only be inconclusive.

Thakor Kewada, the Mujurus' lawyer, said Dr Alvero was not registered to practice in Zimbabwe and that a South African pathologist, Reggie Perumal, should be allowed to examine the remains. "I believe he should give evidence but most importantly after examining the body and conducting a proper autopsy," said Mr Kewada.

The inquest, which has stirred huge interest ahead of the elections later this year, painted a mysterious picture of the last hours of one of the country's most feared men. After stopping for a drink at a hotel bar near his home in Beatrice, outside the capital Harare, the 66-year-old reportedly took nearly three-quarters of an hour to make the 10-minute journey home.

Witnesses told the court they heard gunshots before flames were seen at his farmhouse. Rosemary Shoti, a maid, said General Mujuru, 62, left groceries and his mobile phone in his car, something he had never done before.

Adding to suspicion was testimony that a fire engine sent to the scene had no water in it and that a police unit nearby had a broken radio.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears