THE family of senior Central Intelligence Organisation operative Peter Munetsi, who died in military detention during the November 2017 coup that toppled former president Robert Mugabe, has written to the police demanding the urgent release of post-mortem results in their desperate quest to ascertain the cause and manner of his death.
BY BRIDGET MANANAVIRE
The Zimbabwe Independent can also reveal that the family is seeking “compensation for wrongful death and loss of support”.
Munetsi’s death has reportedly been under investigation by the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Criminal Investigations Department. However, the police have not been forthcoming with the post-mortem results, forcing the family to engage lawyers.
The matter could open a can of worms by providing fresh insight into the circumstances leading to a number of deaths during the dramatic coup, which the government claims was “bloodless”.
Munetsi died on November 15, 2017 at the age of 55 and a memorial was held for him in Harare on January 27, 2018.
“We act on behalf of the estate of the late Peter Munetsi, please kindly note our interest herein. The now deceased Peter Munetsi was a member of the ununiformed forces employed as such by the Central Intelligence Organisation as a District Divisional Intelligence Officer. Peter Munetsi died in military detention on November 15, 2017. His death is the subject of your investigations,” a letter from lawyer Denford Halimani of Wintertons Legal Practitioners reads.
The correspondence was addressed to the officer in charge of the CID’s Law and Order section at Harare Central Police Station.
Halimani said the post-mortem is needed “so as to ascertain the cause of death and to forward the report to his insurers who require it as a precondition to redeem his insurance policy. The post-mortem is also required to consider seeking compensation for wrongful death and loss of support”.
“It is therefore extremely necessary for the post-mortem report to be promptly availed to us.”
He said the state-run Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, which conducted the post-mortem, referred the family to the CID Homicide department for the results.
“We are aware that the post-mortem is available. In this regard the post-mortem was signed off by the pathologist Dr (Tsungai Victor) Jabangwe. However, the post-mortem was not availed to us by the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals which indicated that it would be availed through the investigating officer and/ or the Officer in Charge at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals Police post,” said Halimani.
“We managed to have sight of the contents of the post-mortem report and are aware of its contents. We approached the Police Post at Parirenyatwa who referred us to CID Homicide at Harare Central Police Station, which is the reason for us writing this letter to you.”
Police spokesman Paul Nyathi said he was not aware of the matter. “I am not aware of the letter and I am not privy to any information which you are asking,” Nyathi said.
Reliable sources in the security sector maintain that some people, among them Munetsi, were killed during the coup.
The army operation left a trail of destruction at properties owned by government officials perceived to be loyal to Mugabe. The walls and doors were plastered with bullet holes and there was blood on the floor at some of the properties. Bullet casings and fragments were also found scattered around the properties.
There were blood stains around former finance minister Ignatius Chombo’s home, while casings and bullet fragments were found at the homes of former ministers Jonathan Moyo (higher education) and Saviour Kasukuwere (local government).
Former Zanu PF youth leaders Kudzanai Chipanga and Innocent Hamandishe were detained and tortured by the military during the coup. Munetsi, a career spy, was captured by soldiers during the dramatic events.
However, late last year, Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri told parliament that no one was killed during the coup.
“As you are aware that Operation Restore Legacy spanned over the period 17th November, 2017 to 18th January, 2018, if the honourable member was referring to people who died of the various ailments, then that is best answered by the Registrar-General’s Office that deals with registration of births and deaths . . . However, if the honourable member is referring to victims of casualties of Operation Restore Legacy which I believe he was, Mr Speaker Sir, the answer is none. As far as we are concerned, no one was killed during this operation,” she said in October last year.
Her statement contradicted Presidential spokesperson George Charamba, who had earlier on that year, in April, admitted that a CIO officer died.
“We had one officer from the Central Intelligence Organisation who was arrested alongside a few others for standing in the way of an operation.
“That particular officer apparently was diabetic and because of the shock of that arrest, we lost him. It was a very sad incident that happened,” Charamba said.