THE ruling on the inquest into the death of Johanna MaFuyane, the wife of the late national hero and veteran politician Joshua Nkomo, is expected to be made public today (Friday) amid allegation
s that her death was not due to natural causes.
Coroner and provincial magistrate for Bulawayo, John Masimba, is expected to hand down the judgement having gathered evidence from 11 witnesses during the inquest last year. This followed a request by the Nkomo family for an inquest after suspecting foul play in events surrounding her death.
Ten witnesses including the late MaFuyane’s personal bodyguards, state security agents and doctors who attended to her when she was taken to hospital testified in a case that has been before the courts for the last 14 months.
Nicholas Collen Shava, MaFuyane’s driver and a key witness in the case, died before testifying at the inquest. Doctors who testified in the case include Etwell Mari, Stanford Mathe and Chandisaita Tarumbwa.
The ruling in the case was supposed to be made last week but public prosecutor Bongani Walter Dube told the court that the ruling would be made today as court transcribers had taken too long to transcribe the record of the court proceedings.
“The delay in coming up with the judgement in this case was due to the fact that transcribers working on recording and transcribing court proceedings took long and this did not give the magistrate enough time to write his judgement,” Dube said.
He said the process was now completed and the presiding magistrate was ready to make his ruling.
MaFuyane died at the Roman Catholic-run Mater Dei hospital in Bulawayo after she collapsed at her Matsheumhlophe home on June 3 2003. She was declared a national heroine and buried at Heroes Acre.
Dr Mari, who attended to her when she was brought into hospital, told the court that she did not have a heartbeat and her eyes were fixed when she arrived at the hospital suggesting that she could have been dead on arrival.
In a letter written to the courts by MaFuyane’s eldest daughter, Thandiwe, on July 4 2003 seeking an inquest into her mother’s death, the Nkomo family says they were worried by the “grey areas” in the matter.
A summary of a sudden death report in the possession of the Independent indicates that she died of asphyxiation, due to the forcing of large amounts of water down her throat.