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Court orders that Mugabe’s body be exhumed and reburied in Harare

Zimbabwean court on Friday ordered that the body of former president Robert Mugabe be exhumed from his rural home village and be reburied at the National Heroes’ Acre cemetery in the capital, Harare, South African news channel eNCA reported.

Mugabe died aged 95 in September 2019 and was buried at Kutama after his family refused to have him interred at Heroes’ Acre. The former leader, who was deposed in 2017 having ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, had expressed a wish to be buried next to the grave of his mother, Bona Mugabe, the family said.

Regional magistrate Ruth Moyo threw out a court challenge by the late Mugabe’s children, Bona, Bellarmine and Tinotenda Mugabe. The trio argued that Chief Zvimba acted outside his jurisdiction when his traditional court presided over the burial issue of their father.

The magistrate, in her judgment, said the children have no say in the matter because it directly involved their mother. But Grace Mugabe, the late statesman’s wife, has been out of Zimbabwe for well over a year now. Family sources say she’s in Singapore, where she sought medical treatment and never returned.

Zvimba’s court in May this year ruled that Robert Mugabe’s remains must be exhumed and reburied at the National Heroes Acre because his widow, Grace, broke local customs by interring him at his rural home. The chief also fined Grace fined five cows and a goat in absentia.

But the family rejected the ruling made by Zvimba, and approached the magistrate’s court.

Mugabe died two years ago this month, aged 95. His burial came just over a month after his death, after a protracted dispute between government and the Mugabe family, led by Grace, about where he should be buried.

The government wanted Mugabe buried at the National Heroes Acre, where he began a culture of honouring heroes of the war to gain independence from Rhodesia. However, because of bad blood between him and the government of his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which removed him from power with the help of the military, Mugabe’s dying wish was not to be buried by his “tormentors”.

Because of Zvimba calling for the exhumation and reburial of Mugabe, the family is at loggerheads with all traditional leaders in Zvimba village.

Speaking at the burial of Chief Beperere, a member of the Mugabe family, Dominic Matibiri, was quoted by Voice of America as saying that he wouldn’t mourn the chief, who died of Covid-19 last week due to him “taking part in the exhumation calls”.

“Chief Beperere was Mugabe’s chief and should have presided over the matter, but decided to trick us by taking the matter to Chief Zvimba … This is a great anomaly,” Matibiri was quoted as saying.

Mugabe died an MDC Alliance supporter having publicly endorsed Nelson Chamisa and voted for him in the disputed July 2018 general elections.

–TimesLIVE

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