A Zimbabwean forensic scientist on Monday said retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru died before the fire that was blamed for his death spread into the room where his remains were found.
Mr Bothwell Mutandiro, the director of the police forensic section was giving evidence on the 10th day of the inquest into the death of Vice President Joice Mujuru’s husband in a mysterious fire last year.
He said the carpet beneath Gen Mujuru was not as damaged by the fire as areas around it.
“The carpet took the shape of the human body, the head and the bottom section (indicating) the person could have gotten to that position before the fire got there,” Mr Mutandiro said.
“This physical evidence indicates that the body was lying in that position before the fire progressed.”
The expert said the fire was concentrated in the main house, particularly the bed room and the second lounge.
“Charred remains of a curtain were retrieved from the floor along the southern wall of the bedroom,” he said. “The physical evidence on the curtains remains indicated a downward fire progression.”
He also revealed rifle bullets, two pistol frames and exploded bullet cartridges were retrieved from the main bedroom.
But he indicated investigations could not establish what caused the fire that destroyed the former soldier’s farm house about 30 kilometres from the capital Harare.
Pathologist from South Africa
He ruled out inflammables such as matches, candles, furniture cleaner or rat insecticide, which were in the house as the source of the fire.
“As an observation in this case, the fire could have spread from the bedroom to the mini lounge,” Mr Mutandiro said.
“The mini lounge did not have much fuel load as compared to the bedroom.”
The magistrate who is conducting the inquest, which has dominated news headlines in Zimbabwe for the past two weeks, Mr Walter Chikwanha also postponed a ruling on an application by the Mujuru family to bring an independent pathologist from South Africa to testify.
“I will not grant or dismiss the application but the local pathologist should come and testify first and we hear what he says,” he said.
“If he testifies then we will consider the request by the family lawyer to bring a South African pathologist, but the family lawyer should justify why it is necessary to have him come and testify.”
VP Mujuru has said she does not believe a trained soldier like her husband would have failed to escape the fire.
Many Zimbabweans believe he was murdered by opponents in his Zanu-PF party where infighting to succeed President Robert Mugabe has intensified.
He was considered to be the only politician in Zanu-PF, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, who was able to stand up to the 87 year-old leader.