A diplomatic spat is looming after the body of the daughter of a leading Zimbabwe politician left a Cape Town forensic pathology laboratory without her heart.
Jonathan Moyo’s lawyer has said the minister of higher and tertiary education could pursue criminal charges.
President Robert Mugabe and vice-president Phelekezela Mphoko have reportedly stepped in, calling for an urgent probe into the death of Zanele Moyo, 20, a UCT student.
South African government departments are tight-lipped and the Zimbabwean consulate in Cape Town refused to comment.
Zimbabwe’s presidential spokesman, George Charamba, said the issue could be looked at in a “government-to-government arrangement”.
Zanele Moyo was buried without her heart in Zimbabwe on October 23.
The family discovered the heart was missing when they asked Zimbabwean pathologists to do a second autopsy after her body arrived from the Salt River Forensic Pathology Laboratory in Cape Town.
The family lawyer, Terrence Hussein, said they had to determine why the body was without a heart before deciding what to do.
Moyo was studying political studies, international relations and gender studies. She was found dead in her off-campus flat on the morning of October 17, after a night out with a male friend. The cause of her death has not been confirmed but police are investigating.
Hussein, asked whether the family would pursue charges after the investigation, said: “Oh, bet your bottom dollar on that. The family is entitled to receive answers and we’re going to pursue it until such time we’re provided with full and adequate answers.”
Zimbabwean investigators alleged Zanele’s heart was removed by pathologists during the autopsy in Cape Town, and never replaced.
A family friend, Philip Chiyangwa, said they were going to get to the bottom of the matter. “We’re still trying to unravel what killed Zanele, and now we must worry about who took her heart and for what reason.”
Western Cape Health spokesman Robert Daniels confirmed the matter was being investigated by the police, but could not comment further.
Following Zanele’s death, there was speculation it could have been a muti killing.
Hussein said he was not aware of this. “I don’t know where the allegations are coming from.”
He was not happy with local authorities. “The family stay without any answers. The amount of answers or responses we’re getting from the South African authorities, with respect, has been very scant.”
Forensic services had told the family it could take up to five years to get toxicology results, and that was “unacceptable”.