Freedom Mupanedemo Midlands Bureau
Redcliff Municipality has engaged officials from National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha) to exhume the remains in 10 graves on land earmarked for the town’s expansion.
Redcliff Town plans to relocate its Central Business District nearer to the Gweru-Kwekwe Highway, and has since last year been servicing residential stands on the new area named Renin.
But several graves, some believed to be over 50 years, were discovered.
Redcliff mayor, Councillor Clayton Masiyatsva said 14 other graves were exhumed last year and the remains were reburied at the local authority’s Rutendo Cemetery with the consent of relatives.
Clr Masiyatsva said 90 percent of the residential stands where the graves were discovered, had been sold.
“The land was acquired for purposes of urban expansion and there are more than 2 000 stands,” he said.
“As the local authority, we gave the area to some private land developers to service the land, but in the process, there were some graves which were discovered.
“We then approached officials from Museums and National Monuments of Zimbabwe and traditional leaders to assist us in exhuming the remains of the bodies interred in the area and they started the programme last year. This time they are exhuming 10 graves.”
Clr Masiyatsva said the programme was delayed by the need to trace the relatives of the people who were buried in the 10 graves.
“We have been working with officials from the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, traditional leaders and Zinatha,” he said. “The advantage we had is that most of the people who used to stay on the piece of land are now in Rutendo suburb, so most of the graves were identified by relatives.”
Clr Masiyatsva said they had managed to track down the relatives of about seven people that were buried in the 10 graves and were still searching for the relatives of the remaining three.
“Efforts are still underway to try and locate their relatives, but there has been information emanating that their relatives could be in Mozambique,” he said.
Chief Ntabeni, who presided over the area before the land was later acquired by Redcliff Municipality for iurban expansion, is helping the council.
“We had several meetings with Redcliff Municipality over the issue and we had agreed to start the exhumation programme,” he said.
When The Herald news crew visited the area last Wednesday officials from Museums and National Monuments were on the ground.
Two Zinatha members, who only identified themselves as Sekuru Dzimbiri and Sekuru Chikanda were performing rituals on the site, so the exhumation could start.
Sekuru Dzimbiri said they were the ones who were leading the exhumation programme while being assisted by relatives of those buried in the area.
“We are helping on the traditional side while being assisted by the relatives of those buried here, he said. In case a relative has not been found, we only perform our rituals to allow those from NMMZ to start the exhumation,” said Sekuru Dzimbiri.
He said those allocated residential stands on the grave areas should not have any problems.
One of the relatives of those interred in the area, Mr Million Kana, said they had no problem with their relatives being reburied.
“The beauty of it is that the council engaged all of us and we came here to identify our graves, he said. They are providing coffins and doing the reburial themselves so we have no problem with that.”
Mr Kana said he had three relatives who were buried in the, area with the oldest grave being about 45 years old.