Thousands of bodies face being exhumed in Zimbabwe
Following allegations that the burial grounds and crematorium at Chikomo Chemhute Cemetery in Zimbabwe had not been approved by the government, more than 40 000 bodies face being exhumed.
A local law firm revealed that Chikomo Chemhute Cemetery, which is part of the Glen Forest Memorial Park, failed to seek and obtain approvals from the ministries of Local Government, National Housing and Public Works as stipulated by sections 35 and 14 of the Cemeteries Act, and the Cremation Act, respectively.
In a letter to the Zimbabwean Anti-Corruption Commission, lawyers from Mhishi Nkomo Legal Practice, representing Fopuld Investments Private Limited said: “The land is reserved for agricultural purposes, it is within the catchment area of Mazowe Dam, and it is less than 200 meters from residential areas, among other things. Our instructions are to request that the commission (Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission) investigate the actions of Cadrina Investments and its officers, and bring them to book. Our clients and the writer are available for any assistance and/or clarifications that you may require.”
Marowa Meleki, the head of service provision at Glen Forest Memorial Park said Chikomo Chemhute was part of the memorial park, where families could choose where they wanted to bury their relatives.
“Glen Forest is an independent company that operates a cemetery and a crematorium. Glen Forest operates legally and has approval from Goromonzi Rural District Council and all appropriate line ministries. Glen Forest has Environment Management Agency (EMA) approval to operate a cemetery and a crematorium. It buries everybody in lined graves, and this was a condition given by EMA in its approval,” Meleki said.
Allegations that Chikomo Chemhute was a separate entity under Fopuld Investments and whether the cemetery needed the Local Government Minister’s approval were not clarified. It is said that Fopuld Investments (Pvt) Ltd holds 49% shares in Cadrina Investments (Pvt) Ltd.
Chikomo Chemhute, also owned by Cadrina Investments (Pvt) Ltd, is an entity registered for purposes of holding the asset on which the Glen Forest Memorial Park is. Fopuld Investments allegedly later discovered that the cemetery and crematorium at Glen Forest were unlawful, as no approvals were obtained from the government.
Mparadzi allegedly hid the existence of Chikomo Chemhute from Fopuld Investments, according to the Mhishi Nkomo lawyers. They added that the entity had never appeared on the books of Cadrina Investments despite grave purchases which are said to be directed into Cadrina Investment’s bank account.
The lawyers wrote: “Upon being quizzed over the sale of burial sights on Chikomo Chemhute, Mparadzi denied any such enterprises. Cadrina Investments Private Limited, due to the fraudulent misrepresentations by Mparadzi, sold and continues to sell burial sites to government departments, parastatals, and private citizens on a piece of land which is not, and can never be approved for a cemetery.”
The Mhishi Nkomo lawyers also allege that Mparadzi has been selling graves through Evolution Insurance over the past five years after one of Cadrina Investment directors, Joseph Crnkovic, discovered the offence. After raising the alarm, he said he was forced to flee the country.
The director, Joseph Crnkovic, denied that Chikomo Chemhute and Glen Forest shared one licence. Crnkovic claimed that Chikomo Chemhute owned a farm in Glen Forest measuring 40,4670 hectares, a subdivision 24 of Whelston.
“Audited financial statements of Cadrina Investments Private Limited show that it was Cadrina that was in the business of developing and selling graves, and so I never had access to the Matidoda accounts until I asked them, and was removed from the country,” Crnkovic said.
Mhishi Nkomo lawyers have asked local service providers on behalf of Crnkovic to stop buying graves at Chikomo Chemhute.
John Makamure, Zacc spokesperson said: “I am yet to see the complaint, but if they reported the matter, they did the right thing and it will be investigated thoroughly.”
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