By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
16 May 2014
The family of an ex-British soldier, who died suspiciously in Bulawayo two years ago, has been dealt another blow after a court inquest ruled he committed suicide.
Robert Wood’s family had earlier this month won a legal battle for authorities to reopen an investigation into his death. The 54 year-old Wood, who was born in Glasgow and served in the elite British SAS forces, was found dead in a room of his home in Morningside.
Initial reports said the cause of death as reported by a pathologist was asphyxia due to hanging. The pathologist ruled that Wood committed suicide, a pronouncement his family contested.
In the latest inquest, a medical report read to the State by a government doctor stated that his death was as a result of suicide. An autopsy report said Wood’s lungs were congested with excess fluid which is consistent to death caused by hanging.
In 2013 a UK coroner said at an inquest in Surrey that some of the evidence he heard into the death was ‘very suspicious.’ Detective Sergeant Gary White of the Surrey Police said the inquiry had been hampered by a lack of co-operation from the authorities in Zimbabwe.
It is believed Wood ran a lucrative gold mine near the city for two British investors, in return for a 13 per cent stake. At the time of his death he had moved into his new home in Bulawayo with his Zimbabwean lover, Henrietta Dube.
Dube was a director in the mine and is being accused by Wood’s family of giving differing accounts of his death plus faking his will. She is facing other allegations that together with her local boyfriend Bekithemba Nyoni, Dube took over the mine after Wood’s death and emptied all the company bank accounts.
There has been a number of high profile deaths of individuals involved in diamond and gold dealings in the past five years. Last year businessman Allan Laurence Banks was killed and his body stashed in his car boot, allegedly by a business rival.
Banks had US$20,000 on him when he disappeared. His body was discovered days later inside the car boot and in state of decomposition. The car was found parked at the corner of Herbert Chitepo and Mazowe streets in central Harare.
In another case in January this year, Mtshabezi residents found popular Gwanda gold buyer Mbonisi Moyo dead in a bushy area next to the Mtshabezi River.
Edward Chindori Chininga, a ZANU PF MP and former Mines Minister, died in a mysterious car accident a few weeks after releasing a damning report revealing that millions of dollars in royalties from diamond sales had disappeared from government accounts.
Chininga’s car reportedly failed to stop at a T-junction and ploughed into a tree close to his rural home in Mashonaland Central, about 90 miles north of Harare.
Marange diamonds are at the heart of a battle for political supremacy in Zimbabwe. A February newspaper article said the diamonds have become a poisoned chalice, wrought in chaos and intrigue.
It said infighting among ZANU PF politicians and the army over Marange diamonds for example, is thought to have resulted in the brutal death of the country’s first army commander, General Solomon Mujuru, who died in a suspicious fire caused by a ‘candle’ at his Alamein farm in Beatrice.