HomeLocal NewsMujuru allies cry ‘murder most foul’

Mujuru allies cry ‘murder most foul’

AS the nation tries to recover from an avalanche of emotions and grief triggered by the mysterious death of retiredarmy commander General Solomon
Mujuru (pictured), burnt to a crisp in a firestorm in the early hours of Tuesday morning,relatives, friends and political allies of the legendary liberation struggle hero allege he was murdered.

Dumisani Muleya/Faith Zaba

This comes as threadbare police claims and other similar accounts that Mujuru died in a fire accident, possibly caused by a candle or an electrical fault, continue to fall apart
as more information emerges showing the whole incident reeks of foul play.

Mujuru’s relatives, friends and political allies who spOke to the Zimbabwe Independent since Tuesday have been crying “murder most foul” as facts about the events and circumstances leading to his death become clear, pointing to a damning conclusion of a sinister plot.

Investigations by the Independent, which included talking to relatives, friends and political allies,independent observers and talking to people at the farm and surrounding community, as well as thoroughly studying the scene of his death, shows that even if there was an accidental fire Mujuru had so many options to escape.

On the ground study of the house shows Mujuru could have escaped through the three exit doors in the bedroom or four windows next to where he was sleeping.
Mujuru’s bedroom has four windows — two double and two single. All four do not have burglar bars. The single windows are about 42cm from the ground and 30cm wide, while the double windows are about 1,1m from the ground.

There are three exit doors to the outside and two other doors — one leading to the small lounge where his body was found and the other to his daughters’ two bedrooms, which did not catch fire. The house has a total of six exit doors.

This is confirmed by former Almein Farm house owner Guy Watson-Smith who said it was a mystery how Mujuru could have been trapped and burnt inside the property with so many
rooms and exits.

“One has to wonder whether the truth about Mujuru’s death will ever come out. Our house was a sprawling single storey building, roofed entirely with asbestos sheeting (which was
common in the 1950s when it was built),” WatsonSmith said. “Of course that makes it absolutely fire-proof, and the walls were brick and cement.

All that could have burned was roofing timbers and ceilings, and to imagine the fire spreading quickly without help is hard to do. Finally, there
were more doors and windows than holes in a colander. Our main bedroom alone had three doors out of it and four double windows. How do you get trapped inside that?”

Workers at the farm said Mujuru sometimes used to go through the bedroom windows to the car park because it was the shortest route out. So questions abound why he did not use those doors and windows, which are very low, to escape the fire.

Circumstantial and anecdotal evidence shows that if it was an accident Mujuru would have easily escaped. The situation is compounded by the fact that instead of leaving through other exits he appeared to have rushed to where the inferno was concentrated, eventually getting gutted there.

Besides, cremation experts say a fire like that would not have easily burnt a person to a crisp since 65-90% of each body cell consists of water (by weight). Oxygen and
hydrogen are the major components of the body. To burn a body to ashes one needs extremely high temperatures and fuels like diesel, natural gas and propane. In the past coal and coke were used for cremation.

“It’s not easy to burn a human body. You need extremely high temperatures and fuel to quicken the process,” a cremator said.
“An ordinary fire in a house doesn’t burn a body to ashes in a few hours. Modern furnaces can do it in an hour but an ordinary fire cannot do that in a matter of a few
hours.”

The Independent yesterday visited the Pioneer Hindu crematorium near Rufaro Stadium in Mbare to see how a cremation is done.

A body, after it is rubbed with ghee (burning chemical or fuel), is placed on top of a 1,3 metre high cage, filled with logs, which are at least 30 cm in diameter. The cage is
then wheeled into the cremator furnace, capable of generating temperatures of more than 600 degrees Celsius.

There are two steel doors, which are about 15 cm in diameter, whose insides are plastered in mud and the inside walls are lined with heat-resistant refractory bricks.
Some cremations in Zimbabwe are done for up to 17 hours depending on the body and temperatures.

An electrical engineer said it was highly improbable for a house to be burnt down as a result on an electrical fault because of the type of the conduit wiring used these days
unless the piping has deteriorated or insulation of wires at joints had done likewise.

“In the event that a short circuit did occur, three safety circuit breaking systems would have to be overcome for there to be a fire. Firstly, each electrical circuit for all
domestic appliances would have its own circuit breaker. If this was bypassed, there would be the main circuit breaker for the whole house to contend with,” the electrician said.

“If that too was circumvented, there is also another circuit breaker from a sub-distribution point to the house.”

Another observer said it was very difficult to believe that a person could have been burnt to ashes even by large quantities of fossil fuel, let alone that from a candle. They
gave an example of the 30 000 litres petrol tanker that exploded in Sunningdale recently, killing several people. Although the victims were burnt from such large quantities of highly flammable petrol fuel, their bodies, though badly burnt, were largely intact.

Even though the fire in Mujuru’s house could have been intensified by farm chemicals and fuels at the area where he died, the quantities were low judging by the spread of the fire.

Even then, this does not answer why Mujuru would have rushed where the hellhole was.

“I think there was foul play in this whole saga. How does a man of Mujuru’s training,calibre and experience die in a blaze within a generally fire-proof house and be burnt to
ashes when there were so many exit points,including low windows, and doors,” one of Mujuru’s friends said.

“I think there was foul play. This means there was some sort of criminal activity— not an accident or suicide — which was involved. There is no logical or reasonable explanation because a study of the situation does not support claims of a fire accident”

A family member said: “There is something fishy in this thing. I think there should be a thorough and proper investigation to get to the bottom of the matter”.

A senior Zanu PF politburo member said Mujuru’s allies were almost certainly sure he was murdered “This is political murder, call it assassination, by other definitions,” the member said. “It’s not a continuation of the struggles within the struggle, but it’s now struggles after the struggle. You must put this death in this context and the attempted murder of (Air Marshal Perence) Shiri a few years ago.”

Zanu PF, fractured and torn asunder by divisions and infighting, is reeling from internal strife whose epicentre is President Robert Mugabe’s vicious succession battle.

The plot further thickens when it is taken into account Mujuru’s most trusted diamond dealer Bothwell Hlahla died in a car accident in Mutare a few days before
Mujuru died in a blaze which gutted his Almein farm house in Beatrice, 60 km south of Harare.

Hlahla was one of Mujuru’s closest diamond deal brokers who had become wealthy in a short space of time owning posh properties and expensive cars in Mutare and
Harare which he bought after striking a for a generally fire-proof house and be burnt to ashes when there were so many exit points,including low windows, and doors,” one of
Mujuru’s friends said.

“I think there was foul play. This means there was some sort of criminal activity not an accident or suicide — which was
involved. There is no logical or reasonable explanation because a study of the situation does not support claims of a fire accident”

A family member said: “There is something fishy in this thing. I think there should be a thorough and proper investigation to get to the bottom of the matter”.

Mujuru was heavily involved in the trade of diamonds, gold and other minerals. He was involved in a fight with government over the Marange diamonds as part of Africa Consolidated Resources. Government grabbed the contested Chiadzwa fields and handed out concessions to several companies, including South Africa’s New Reclamation Group and Canadile Miners.

Some of the concessions at Marange were given to the army, police and intelligence agencies. The area was invaded by dealers, smugglers and former mercenaries.

Curiously, Mujuru died early on Tuesday morning hours before he embarked on a journey to Beitbridge to meet international diamond dealers over gems mainly from his River Ranch Mine, located about 30km outside the border town.

Investigations by the Independent show Mujuru had an appointment in Beitbridge with diamond buyers to resolve a dispute over payment for gems already sold.

“He was due to leave early on Tuesday driving to Beitbridge to meet international diamond buyers to discuss some payment which had not been settled,” an informed
sources told the Independent.

Extensive interviews with workers on his farm show that Mujuru had arrived at the farm around 8pm driving a white Isuzu Double Cab which he parked and left on his parking with his groceries, cell phone and other items. Before parking he had gone to his housemaid’s quarters, which are two kilometres away, to collect keys to the house. There was no electricity although power came back shortly after his arrival.

The maid, Rosemary Shoti, said normally he would switch on a generator or use a candle put on a saucer if there was no power. The fire burnt his daughters’ bathroom, Mujuru’s bedroom, the corridor where the fitted cupboards were, the small lounge where everything inside was burnt down, the dining room where only two chairs survived and the main lounge where sofas survived. The rest of the house remained intact, save for a few windows in the daughters bedrooms, which were broken when people attempted to get into the house.

But the question that is being asked by both the farm workers and relatives is why it took the three policemen on duty so long to react.Contrary to assertions that the house is
partially obscured by tobacco barns from the guardrooms, the police post is only 50 metres away, in clear view of the farmhouse. The sleeping quarters for the guards
are directly opposite the main lounge.

In addition to the three police officers there, security guards are also stationed at the farmhouse entrance.The guards reportedly only realised there was a fire after hearing noise from the collapsing roof but did not have airtime to call for help.

The Independent also visited Beatrice Motel where Mujuru had four tots of Black Label before retiring home.The bar lady who served him that Monday night said: “General Mujuru only had four tots of Black Label and refused to have anymore because he had an early trip to Beitbridge. He told us that he wanted to work up at 4am the next morning. Normally,
the General could drink a whole bottle of whisky and still appeared sober.” Events and circumstances around Mujuru’s death disprove that he could have died in a fire accident, reinforcing suspicions of foul play.

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