The High Court has expressed concern over the manner in which the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Forensic Science Laboratory handled the death of CMED board chair Leslie John Denn.
He was found dead at his Borrowdale, Harare, home four years ago.
Denn, who was board chairman of CMED (Pvt) Ltd and managing director of Nemchen (Pvt) Ltd, was found dead with a bullet wound at his house in Borrowdale in May 2016.
The three departments were slammed for a shoddy job in their corresponding capacities, compromising justice in the murder case.
The High Court felt this could have led to a serious miscarriage of justice.
A judgment delivered by Justice Erica Ndewere in the case in which Denn’s live-in girlfriend, Ashton Pillay, was acquitted of murder, has no kind words for the police’s failure to follow rules of standard police investigation procedure and protocol when attending scenes of crime in cases of suspected murder or suicide.
“Before I conclude, the court wishes to express its discomfort with the manner in which the investigations of this unnatural violent death was handled by the investigative departments of the State,” said Justice Ndewere.
She said the court made an effort during the trial to have the gunshot residue samples examined, but the forensic department spurned that request.
The samples would have confirmed whether Denn committed suicide or was murdered.
Justice Ndewere queried why a shooting case could remain inconclusive when there was a State department with samples uplifted in 2016.
The samples have not been examined by the responsible department, even when the court ordered their assessment.
Justice Ndewere said it was improper for the police to finalise investigations before the samples were tested to determine if it was a murder case or suicide.
The High Court also found the NPA wanting in indicting Ms Pillay for murder before ascertaining if the case was indeed a murder or a suicide.
Justice Ndewere also castigated the forensic science department for “operating like a mortuary, with its officers attending crime scenes to collect samples which they put in a storage fridge since 2004 from the evidence tendered in court”.
“In this regard, the court feels that there is need for an urgent competence assessments of the forensic science laboratory department before there is further miscarriage of justice in criminal matters in the country,” said Justice Ndewere.
“In the present case if the deceased did not commit suicide, the department’s failure to test the samples they collected on time has led to a serious miscarriage of justice in relation to his death,” said Justice Ndewere.
Police, she added, were guilty of several omissions. The judge said it was sad that officers entrusted with the duty of investigating unnatural deaths of citizens take their duties so casually and neglect to observe all the rules of police investigations.