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Munatsi burial order issued as his family awaits postmortem results

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THE late business executive Doug Munatsi’s burial order was issued yesterday while further examinations to ascertain the cause of his death continue. Munatsi died early on Monday morning in a “suspicious” fire that broke out in his seven-bedroom luxurious apartment at Northfields in the Avenues area of Harare.

BRIDGET MANANAVIRE

 The government announced that he will be granted a state-assisted funeral. Pathologists yesterday handed over samples needed for a toxicology examination to the police after preliminary postmortem examinations on the body did not give conclusive answers as to the cause of death.

Postmortem results are an important piece in the puzzle to establish what exactly killed him.

Investigations are still underway as the police also need to establish the cause of fire through reports from the Fire Brigade and forensics.

After the fire broke out in the penthouse that overlooks Harare Sports Club which hosts international cricket, and the Zimbabwe State House, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Homicide section, CID Studios, CID Scenes of Crime, CID Forensics and ZRP Harare Central attended to the scene.

The remains of the deceased were found in a sitting position just beside the bath tub in the main bedroom with some burns on the hands and legs, he was putting on a red T-shirt and a black pair of shorts which were not burnt.

 Police sources say there were also some burns on the abdomen, which could have been caused by heat as his clothes were intact.

“According to what has been received, there is no specific cause of death given at this time. It is not common, but it happens. Samples were collected for a toxicology examination to asses whether there were no drugs, alcohol or poison involved,” the source told The NewsHawks.

The samples collected are eye fluid, stomach contents, urine and blood, as well as small pieces of other organs of the body. They were given to the police.

“The police are now expected to take the samples for a toxicology examination. The tests used to be done by the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory, which the police has not been using and where some results from as far as 15 years ago have not yet been received. The state also used to send samples to South Africa where results would take between two weeks to a month to be received,” the source said.

 “The pathologist also didn’t give an indication on the issue of smoke inhalation, but it has not been ruled out.”

According to the postmortem examination done yesterday, no other sign of trauma was found on the body except for those related to heat. While there had been reports of nails missing from his fingers, further assessment of Munatsi’s body established that there was a nail which had appeared to have been damaged some time before the incident.

It is, however, not clear when the toxicology examination results will be out as the turnaround time and the capacity of the new equipment donated to the police has not yet been established.

Last month, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe revealed that the courts have been failing to finalise several criminal cases due to lack of forensic evidence.

However, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Forensic Science laboratory last month got DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) equipment which is used in investigating murder and other violent crimes.

Kazembe said: “The use of forensics to solve the malady of crime in societies has become commonplace. The world over, the use of DNA analysis to solve crimes such as murder and rape, among others, is one area that has registered immense success. Regrettably, the ZRP had been seriously lagging behind in this regard”.

“DNA analysis was being sub-contracted to private institutions, whose charges were prohibitive. The timeous analysis of samples will, indeed, ensure that justice is delivered without delay.

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