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Parents fight over son’s tombstone epitaph

Zvitaira Manyande and Eva Shiridzimwa
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A DIVORCED couple is haggling over the epitaph on the tombstone of their late son and performance of sacred rites on his grave at Dangamvura Cemetery. The fight has since spilled into the courts.

The two erstwhile lovers – Zvitaira Manyande and Eva Shiridzimwa – were briefly married, but went separate ways after being blessed with two children. The children went with their mother and assumed her maternal name. One of them  Wishes  died in September 24, 2016. He was 52 years and was interred at Dangamvura Cemetery.

In a joint application filed at Mutare Civil Court on January 10, 2018, Zvitaira and his brother Sonny Manyande, claimed that they were denied involvement in the children’s lives and were seeking recourse to rectify the epitaph on Wishes’ tombstone as well as to change the surname on his death certificate.

The Shiridzinomwas were also accused of performing sacred rituals on Wishes’ grave without the Manyandes’ involvement or consent. Initially the court had served an interdict to the Shiridzinomwas to stop performing rituals at Wishes’ grave.

“They intentionally excluded me from any involvement in the lives of the two children who surprisingly adopted their maternal uncles’ surname. I was not informed of my daughter’s marriage and during the burial of my son, as the father, I was never accorded the responsibility of performing sacred rites at his burial. Rather, they performed their own rituals on my son’s grave without my consent,” argued Zvitaira.

However, in her opposing affidavits, Eva Shiridzinomwa and her brother Golden, hit back accusing the Manyandes of failing to pay lobola and ‘chiredzwa’ for the upbringing of the two children.  Eva argued that Zvitaira was irresponsible as she laboured to raise Wishes and his sister alone without any assistance from their father.

“Manyande did not pay lobola for me neither did he pay chiredzwa for him (Wishes) to claim the right over our children. We have two children together but we were never married, customarily or otherwise, we stayed together for a short period of time and he sent me back to my maternal home where I raised my two children without his help.

“The children took my surname since I raised them on my own and he was never present in their life,” she said.

Eva said the traditional Shona culture states that the father is to pay ‘chiredzwa’ if the mother’s family takes care of the children so that he takes full control of the children. Miss Kuture adjourned the matter to a later date.