Crime & Courts

State House murder raises dust… Family demands answers

A HARARE family has accused government security agents of murdering their son at or near State House in Harare last week.

State House is mostly guarded by members of the military’s Presidential Guard unit, Central Intelligence Organisation and Zimbabwe Republic Police.

The Musendo family of Mufakose says since their son’s murder last week, they have been moved from one office to another as no one wants to take responsibility.

Allegations are that on August 19, Levy Musendo (35), a “mentally-challenged person but stable and on medication” left the family’s Mufakose home to carry out some errands. He did not return home.The next morning, his father, Job Musendo, received a phone call from an unidentified police officer at Harare Central Police Station, that his son had been arrested and detained.

Job was advised to bring fresh clothing and food for his son. He also took with him his son medical records that showed he was a mental patient.

At 9am, Job arrived at Harare Central Police Station and sought to see his son, but that was to be the beginning of his woes.

At first, he was told he could not see his son “as the police holding cells wherein he was allegedly held were off bounds,” according to a letter of complaint by the family’s lawyers Kadzere, Hungwe and Mandevere Legal Practitioners dated August 24.

It is addressed to Officer Commanding Harare Central District, Chief Superintendent Moyo, Officer Commanding Harare Metropolitan Province, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri.

“Mr Job Musendo and his wife were subsequently shuffled from pillar to post, from one office to the other for the greater part of the day and were eventually advised that their child had been taken to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals for medical attention as he had some severe injuries and was bleeding profusely from the nose and mouth,” the lawyers stated.

They inquired as to the cause of the injuries, but the officers attending to them were evasive, only to be told later that Levy had been injured while “attempting to break into the Zimbabwe State House at No 1 Chancellor Avenue” the lawyers said.

After spending much of the day at the police station, they were led into the office of Chief Superintendent Moyo at around 4pm, who broke the news of their son’s death.

Job and his wife again requested to see Levy’s body, but were not afforded the opportunity and, instead, told that “the body was in the custody of the State”.

They eventually left and went back home without seeing their son’s body.

On Sunday, they went back to Harare Central, but the law enforcement agents were still evasive.

Other family members made concerted efforts to see the body at Parirenyatwa to no joy as nurses who spoke on condition of anonymity, “made it clear that there had been uniformed military personnel at the hospital who had brought the deceased’s body to the hospital and sternly warned anyone against disclosing the fact that the deceased was already dead at the time he was taken to Parirenyatwa and also that there were strict instructions that no one should be allowed to view his remains”.

It was only on Monday that he was allowed to view the body “under police escort”.

“On viewing the remains, he was only shown the face which presented with a deep cut around the mouth area and on requesting to see the rest of the body, he was denied this opportunity and advised that the mortuary attendant had strict instructions to only allow him to see the face for purposes of identification,” the family’s lawyers stated in their letter.

Job was then told that a post-mortem would be done the next day, August 23.

The lawyers argue that the Musendos were advised of their son’s death on August 20, 2022 at around 4pm, but the application for post-mortem examination showed that he had died on August 20, 2022 at 2140 hours.

“How could the time of death be coming after the announcement of the death? What should come first, the death or the announcement?” the lawyers queried.

The application for post-mortem examination also states that the now-deceased died at Parirenyatwa casualty department.

The lawyers pointed out that entries made by a pathologist showed that the time of death “had been altered from 1442 hours to 2142 hours using a blank ink pen.

Mortuary order No 225/22 signed by the pathologist on duty stated that Levy’s death “was not due to natural causes”.

The family lawyers also said Levy’s body was accompanied to Parirenyatwa by a Zimbabwe Republic Police Form 234 — Request for Medical Report to make it look as if he was alive when he was taken to hospital.

Also attached was what was supposed to be a registration form for patients on admission at Parirenyatwa.

On inquiry, the hospital database showed that Levy had not been booked at the hospital that day or the previous one, and he was last attended to at the casualty department on June 30 this year.

The pathologist, the lawyers say, outlined Levy’s death as “severe epigastric trauma”, which is “haemorrhage to internal stomach organs.”.

“It leaves our client with no other option but to conclude that his son must have been subjected to severe assault, resulting in such a state of affairs and that his child was a victim of murder at the hands of State functionaries stationed at State House,” the lawyers said.

The family now wants access to a full and detailed post-mortem report.

It also wants to view his whole body.

“State House security is a high security area with closed circuit televisions all around. We cannot phantom that such an event as an alleged break into State House would miss the lens of the multitude of cameras dotted around State House. In that vein, we request that our client be allowed supervised access to the relevant video footage that shows the now-deceased allegedly trying to break into State House as outlined in the documents attached hereto,” the lawyers further demanded.

They also want a full inquiry leading to their son’s death.

Levy is yet to be buried as the family is demanding justice. His body lies at the morgue at Parirenyatwa.

Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi on Thursday confirmed receiving a report in connection with Musendo’s death saying they were investigating the “unfortunate incident.”

-thestandard

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