Short title: 

TITLE     7 



Chapter 7:07                                                                        



Acts 12/1951, 23/1958, 19/1963 (s. 12), 22/2001, R.G.N.s 801/1963, 214/1964, 



            1.         Short title. 

            2.         Duty of police officer in relation to sudden deaths or deaths by 

            3.         Police officer to inspect body and note appearance. 

            4.         Police officer to have body examined. 

            5.         Police officer to report case to magistrate without delay. 

            6.         Powers of magistrate on receiving report. 

            7.         Process for summoning witnesses. 

            8.         Penalty for non-attendance of witness. 

            9.         Oaths of witnesses. 

            10.       Evidence and procedure at inquest. 

            11.       Witnesses entitled to expenses. 

            12.       Power to make rules. 

            13.       Transmission of inquests and reports. 

            14.       Inquest not to prevent issue of warrant and arrest of offenders 
            15.       Inquests on death of members of armed forces dispensed with in 

certain cases. 

            16.       Contempts at inquests. 

                        FIRST SCHEDULE: Form of Summons. 

                        SECOND SCHEDULE: Form of Warrant of Arrest. 

AN ACT to consolidate the law relating to inquests. 

[Date of commencement: 25th May, 1951.] 

1          Short title 

This Act may be cited as the Inquests Act [Chapter 7:07]. 

2          Duty of police officer in relation to sudden deaths or deaths by violence 

As soon as it comes to the knowledge of any police officer that there is at any spot 
within the area over which he exercises supervision the body of any person who died  suddenly or was found dead or is supposed or suspected to have come by his death by  violence or otherwise than in a natural way, it shall be the duty of such police officer  with all convenient speed to proceed to the spot where the body is, and he shall 

inspect the same and, if necessary, cause the same if interred to be disinterred for the  purpose of inspection, and he shall also obtain all information procurable for the 
purpose of ascertaining the cause of death: 

Provided that if the body is interred in a cemetery established or controlled and 
administered under the Cemeteries Act [Chapter 5:04], such body may only be so 
disinterred upon the order of the Minister responsible for home affairs. 

3          Police officer to inspect body and note appearance 

In viewing the dead body the police officer shall take careful note of all appearances,  marks and traces presented by it and about it which tend to show whether the 

deceased did or did not come by his death from violence, and if from violence, 
whether the same was used by himself or some other, and if by some other, who such  other was or how he may be discovered. 

4          Police officer to have body examined 

It shall be the duty of the police officer, where practicable, to cause the dead body to 



be examined as soon as possible by a duly registered medical practitioner, if such can  be procured, and if not, then by the best qualified person or persons that can be 
obtained, and such medical man or other qualified person shall be entitled to receive 
his expenses, precisely as if he had been summoned to give evidence at a criminal 

trial held at the place where he made such examination as aforesaid. 

5          Police officer to report case to magistrate without delay 

The police officer shall, without delay, report to a magistrate, in detail, the 
circumstances of the case, in order that the magistrate may take such further steps, if 
any, as may be needful, either to ascertain the cause of death or to bring to justice 

such person or persons as appear to have unlawfully caused such death. 

6          Powers of magistrate on receiving report 

(1) Upon receiving the report mentioned in section five, the magistrate may— 
            (a)        if no post-mortem examination of the body has been made and he is of  the opinion that such an examination may prove an inquest to be unnecessary, direct 
any registered medical practitioner to make a post-mortem examination of the body of  the deceased and to report the result thereof to him in writing; 

            (b)        if in his opinion the circumstances of the case require it, hold an 

inquest for the purpose of ascertaining the cause of death or refer the report to such 
other magistrate as the Attorney-General may direct in order that such an inquest may  be held. 

(2) It shall be lawful or any registered medical practitioner to make a post-mortem 
examination upon the body of the deceased person in accordance with the direction of  the magistrate given in terms of paragraph (a) of subsection (1). 

(3) A magistrate may summon witnesses for the purpose of holding an inquest and 
may examine witnesses at the inquest. 

7          Process for summoning witnesses 

The process for summoning witnesses to attend before any inquest shall be in 
substance in the form set forth in the First Schedule. 

8          Penalty for non-attendance of witness 

If any person summoned as a witness does not attend pursuant to such summons, then  such person so making default shall, unless reasonable excuse is proved by oath or 
affidavit, be liable to be sentenced by the magistrate to a fine not exceeding level five  or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and 

such imprisonment; and the magistrate may, moreover, issue his warrant for the arrest  of the person so making default, which warrant shall be in substance in the form set 
forth in the Second Schedule. 

[amended by Act 22 of 2001, with effect from the 10th September, 2002.] 

9          Oaths of witnesses 

The oath to be taken by witnesses appearing before the inquest shall be administered  by the magistrate, and shall be as follows: “The evidence which you shall give to this  inquest touching the death of C. D. (or ‘of the deceased person, name unknown, 
regarding whom this inquest is held’) shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing 
but the truth. So help me God.” 

10        Evidence and procedure at inquest 

(1) A magistrate holding an inquest shall not be bound by any rules of evidence 

which relate to civil or criminal proceedings and shall conduct the inquest in the 
manner provided by rules made under section twelve: 

Provided that if any witness objects to answer any question on the ground that it will  tend to incriminate him he shall not be required to answer the question nor be liable 

to any penalty for refusing so to answer. 

(2) The evidence of each person who is called to give oral evidence shall be taken 
down in writing by the magistrate or such other person as the magistrate may appoint.  (3) If evidence is taken down in shorthand writing, any document purporting to be a 
transcription of the shorthand record of the said evidence and purporting to have been  certified as correct under the hand of the person who took such evidence down shall, 




prima facie, be equivalent to that shorthand record. 

(4) The magistrate may in his discretion permit evidence to be given by way of 
affidavit or report. 

11        Witnesses entitled to expenses 

All witnesses, medical or otherwise, summoned or attending to give evidence before  any inquest shall be entitled to receive their expenses as if they were witnesses 
summoned to give evidence at a criminal trial. 

12        Power to make rules 

The Minister responsible for justice, after consultation with the Chief Justice, may 
make rules for regulating the practice and procedure at or in connection with inquests.  13        Transmission of inquests and reports 

The magistrate shall transmit to the Attorney-General the record of every inquest held  by him and the report of any police officer made in terms of section five in any case 
where an inquest has not been held, together with the conclusion in regard to it at 
which the magistrate has arrived and such remarks upon the case, if any, as the 
magistrate thinks fit. 

14        Inquest not to prevent issue of warrant and arrest of offenders 

Nothing in this Act shall prevent any person authorized by law to issue warrants of 
arrest, or authorized to arrest offenders or supposed offenders in that warrant, from 
acting in all respects as regards such warrants or such offenders whether an inquest 

has or has not been commenced. 

15        Inquests on death of members of armed forces dispensed with in certain cases  (1) When any member of the Defence Forces has, or is supposed to have, died within  Zimbabwe otherwise than in a natural way, and the proper military or air force 
authority reports to the provincial magistrate of the province within which the death 
occurred that a military or air force court of inquiry will be constituted in accordance  with the law or custom of the service to inquire into the cause of death, it shall not be  necessary for a magistrate or police officer to hold an inquest or inquiry or inspect the  body in terms of this Act. 

(2) Upon receipt of the record of proceedings of the court of inquiry in any such case,  the proper military or air force authority shall give to the registrar of births and deaths  for the district in which the death occurred such information as the registrar may 
require for the purposes of the Births and Deaths Registration Act [Chapter 5:02]. 

(3) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to preclude any proceedings being taken 

at any time in accordance with this Act if, in the opinion of a magistrate, the 
circumstances of the case require it. 

16        Contempts at inquests 

All contempts committed by witnesses or others before or in regard to any inquest 
shall be dealt with in like manner, mutatis mutandis, as contempts committed by 
witnesses and others before any magistrates court. 



            Inquest for the Province of  

To        (name of police officer). 

You are hereby required to summon A.B. of (describe him particularly) that he appear  before me on this the          day of       , 19    , in the forenoon (or afternoon, as the 

case may be, stating the day and hour according to the fact), then and there to be 
examined at an inquest touching the death of C.D. (or “of a certain deceased person 
whose name is unknown”). 

            Dated at this          day of             , 19   . 




To                 (name of police officer) and other police officers and officers of the law,  proper to the execution of criminal warrants. 




Whereas A.B., of (describe him particularly as in the summons), who was duly 
summoned to appear before me at (name the place as in the summons), at (state the  time as in the summons), then and there to be examined at an inquest touching the  death of C.D. or “of a certain deceased person whose name is unknown”, and has 
refused and neglected so to do, to the delay and hindrance of justice: You are 
therefore commanded to arrest and bring before me the said A.B., that he shall be 
dealt with according to law; and for so doing this shall be your warrant. 
            Dated at this          day of             , 19  . 







Long title: 
Inquests Act [Chapter 7:07]
Year of Act: 
Number of Act: 
Date of assent: 
25 May 1951
Date of promulgation: 
25 May 1951
Date of commencement: 
25 May 1951
In force: