DCSIMG

Zimbabwe court looks into claimed suicide of Scot

Robert Wood was found hanging in the house he had just moved into. Picture: INS News Agency

Robert Wood was found hanging in the house he had just moved into. Picture: INS News Agency

  • by JANE FIELDS IN HARARE
 

A NEW inquest has opened in Zimbabwe into the “suspicious” death of a former Scottish SAS officer after his family urged the authorities to reopen the investigation.

Glasgow-born Robert Wood, 54, was found dead in the spare room of his home in Bulawayo on 9 March, 2012.

A post-mortem examination in Zimbabwe gave the cause of death as asphyxia due to hanging and a pathologist said that Mr Wood had killed himself.

But a UK coroner said at an inquest in Surrey in November 2013 that some of the evidence he heard into the death was “very suspicious”.

Detective Sergeant Gary White of Surrey Police said the inquiry had been hampered by a lack of co-operation from the authorities in Zimbabwe.

Mr Wood ran a lucrative gold mine near the city for two British investors in return for a 13 per cent stake.

He had just moved into a rented house in the well-to-do suburb of Morningside with his Zimbabwean lover Henrietta Dube, who was a director in the mine.

Mr Wood’s family in the UK have been pushing for a new inquest amid claims that Miss Dube gave differing accounts of the death to police and faked his will.

They say that Miss Dube and her local boyfriend, Bhekithemba Nyoni, took over the mine after Mr Wood’s death and emptied company bank accounts.

The inquest heard yesterday that Miss Dube did not call the police when she found Mr Wood’s body.

Mandlenkosi Nkala, a taxi driver, gave a muddled explanation as to why it was he and not Miss Dube who called police when Mr Wood’s body was found.

Mr Nkala said Miss Dube had no mobile phone to make the call, but was unable to explain how she had summoned him by phone to the house when she found the body, according to the state Chronicle newspaper.

Earlier in his evidence, the taxi driver told magistrate Elias Magate that he had spent 8 March driving Miss Dube around Bulawayo as she shopped for items for the new house.

She told him to drop her at the Bulawayo Athletics Club, a local bar, at around 5pm, then phoned 30 minutes later to ask him to return to keep her company. Mr Nkala said: “Wood joined us and we were later joined by Nkosilathi Dube, a police detective.”

It was not immediately clear if the detective and Mr Wood’s girlfriend were related. Dube is a common surname in Ndebele-speaking southern Zimbabwe.

The driver claimed that he dropped the “heavily intoxicated” couple at their home after midnight.

Miss Dube then called him the next morning to say Mr Wood had committed suicide, he said, but she had not contacted the police.

Mr Nkala told the inquest: “I asked a friend to accompany me to their house, where I found Wood. I then decided to make a report at Hillside police station as she had not yet reported the death.”

Police detective Nkosilathi Dube claimed in his testimony that he had accompanied Miss Dube and Mr Wood home in the taxi at around 1am.

He said he and the taxi driver stayed in the house for “about ten minutes” before leaving the pair to sleep.

Detective Dube said he was informed of Mr Wood’s death the next morning.

When he went to the house around 10am, he found the body still hanging and police officers already on the scene, the Chronicle reported.

Mr Wood, a father-of-two, lived much of his life in Africa. His wife Susan, 59, was aware of his relationship with Miss Dube.

Mr Wood’s brother Ian has travelled to Zimbabwe for the inquest, which continues.

 

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