There was still confusion about how Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Learnmore Jongwe had died with police saying he had died from chloroquine poisoning but his family still blamed the government for his death.
The United States embassy commented: “Whatever the circumstances of Jongwe’s death, it is extremely unlikely that most opposition supporters will accept that he died at his own hand”.
Viewing cable 02HARARE2445, OFFICIAL JONGWE AUTOPSY RESULTS IDENTIFY POISONING
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 002445
NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR NEARY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: OFFICIAL JONGWE AUTOPSY RESULTS IDENTIFY POISONING
AS CAUSE OF DEATH; POLICE SUGGEST SUICIDE
REF: HARARE 2321
¶1. (U) Learnmore Jongwe, former MDC spokesman and MP from
Kuwadzana, died from chloroquine poisoning, according to the
state run newspaper, The Herald. Jongwe was found dead in his
prison cell early in the morning of October 22 (See Reftel).
The police autopsy was performed on October 24. The Jongwe
family was able to delay the autopsy so that they could
secure an independent expert from South Africa to witness the
process and remove separate specimens for analysis. The
results of the independent autopsy were not known at the time
of the Herald report but a police spokesman announced that
the police were not interested in the independent findings.
¶2. (U) The police implied that Jongwe committed suicide
because a small bottle with one pill was found near Jongwe’s
body at the time of death and there were pieces of white
tablets in his vomit. Jongwe allegedly tried to commit
suicide earlier after allegedly fatally stabbing his wife in
July. The police spokesman announced on national television
on November 7 that the anti-malaria drug, chloroquine, was
often associated with suicide attempts.
¶3. (SBU) Nelson Chamisa, MDC National Youth Chairman and a
close friend of Jongwe, told us that the Jongwe family was
shocked with the government autopsy results. They had not
seen the results prior the announcement on ZBC on the evening
of November 7. According to Chamisa, the family still holds
the government responsible for Jongwe,s death because he was
in police custody at the time. (We understand from separate
sources that the South African pathologist’s initial findings
also indicated poisoning as the cause of death, but had not
yet completed the separate autopsy.) COMMENT: Whatever the
circumstances of Jongwe’s death, it is extremely unlikely
that most opposition supporters will accept that he died at
his own hand. END COMMENT.