Zim said Mugabe spy boss was ill, but autopsy says he bled to death
A report - seen by Times Select - starkly contradicts the official version of Peter Munetsi's demise
A Zimbabwean spy boss who was said to have died of an illness during the 2017 coup was in fact brutally beaten to death, an autopsy report revealed this week.
Harare district central intelligence chief Peter Munetsi, 55, was declared dead on November 15 2017 at the height of the military operation that led to the forced resignation of then president Robert Mugabe.
At the time, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba, said Munetsi, who was pro-Mugabe, had died of an illness.
But Munetsi’s widow, Rossie, doubted that version of events and asked for the autopsy report.
Zimbabwean authorities refused, forcing her to petition the high court seeking an order compelling home affairs and cultural heritage minister Cain Mathema, Zimbabwe Republic Police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga, the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, and Dr Tsungai Victor Javangwe, the pathologist, to release it.
She is also demanding $610,000 in a civil claim from the ministry of defence, arguing that army personnel detained and killed her husband.
She succeeded in her court application, and the autopsy report released this week revealed a very different story to Charamba’s “illness” version.
It indicates he bled to death after being beaten severely.
Javangwe, the government pathologist, states the cause of death as: “Severe anaemia, post extensive subcutaneous and intramuscular haemorrhage and multiple blunt force injury.”
Another senior CIO operative, Albert Ngulube, who was Mugabe’s director of security, was also beaten by soldiers during the coup. He survived after being treated in hospital for a deep cut in the head.
After Munetsi’s death his family vowed to seek justice.
“It’s hard. I’m still in pain, but there was nothing he could do. That’s the way for all of us. Thank you. I end here,” Peter’s son, Kudzi Munetsi, said at his memorial service.
His wife said in court papers: “I require the post-mortem report so as to ascertain the official cause of my husband’s death and to forward the report to insurers who require it as a pre-condition to redeem my late husband’s EcoSure funeral insurance policy.
“I also require it as evidence in the civil claim that I intend to institute against the wrongdoers. Thus I require the post-mortem report for the exercise or protection of a right as contemplated in Section 62(2) of the constitution.”
The autopsy report discredits other notions that Munetsi was in bad health at the time of his death.
A series of tests were done on his main organs, particularly the kidneys, head, liver and heart, and the results are stated as “moderate and normal”.
However, there were abrasions on his knees, thighs, forearms and chest. X-rays revealed a fracture of the little finger on the left hand, which could be interpreted as a sign of torture.
A diagram detailing Munetsi’s body shows he was beaten mostly from the back and that the injuries were inflicted at the same time.
Javangwe said that after examining Munetsi’s body he recorded: “He sustained multiple graze abrasions on several parts of his body including on his hands, arms, legs, elbows, ears, forehead, knees and scalp.
“This is a 55-year-old man, initially reported as having fallen ill, but later reported to have been a possible victim of assault.
“At autopsy, he shows mucosal pallor and multiple purple black contusions as well as graze abrasions on the back, upper and lower limbs. Mucosal pallor is often found in individuals who are anaemic of which bleeding is amongst one of the causes.
“Reflection of skin shows extensive haemorrhage into muscle and subcutaneous tissue with blood collections seen in areas of the back, upper and lower limbs. X-rays showed a fracture of the middle 21/11/17 phalanx, proximal area, of the left little finger. His kidneys both show pallor as well as multiple petechiae. The right is atrophic with cystic lesion seen.”
While Mnangagwa’s government claimed the military-led coup was a bloodless operation, several people are suing the Zimbabwe Defence Force and other security agents. They are accused of killing their family members during the execution of the coup, which led to the ascendancy to power of Mugabe’s former lieutenant Mnangagwa.