Graves exhumed to pave way for mining

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NINE graves of victims who perished in a mineshaft collapse that occurred in Penhalonga in the late 1940s have been exhumed and their remains were reburied at Tsvingwe Cemetery to pave way for new mining operations.

The Manica Post visited the exhumation site on Wednesday where Chief Mutasa and other Government officials — among them acting Mutasa District Development Coordinator, Mr Tedious Beto — were witnessing the process.

Mr Beto said all protocols were followed to pave way for the exhumation and decent reburials.

“We exhumed three bodies last Friday, four on Saturday and two today (Wednesday), and they are all getting befitting reburials. The mining company is footing all the costs. All the relevant authorities were consulted and gave the green light to the exhumation process. From the initial assessment, it was discovered that the graves were dug in the late 1940s and there were not new burials at the cemetery as alleged on social media platforms,” he said.

Chief Mutasa also refuted claims on social media that the graves were fresh ones, with corpses recently buried being exhumed.

He said the event marked an emotional moment and all efforts were made to honour the victims who tragically lost their lives decades ago.

Chief Mutasa said the reburials were being done at Tsvingwe Cemetery, which serves as a solemn tribute to their lives and a gesture of remembrance for the hardships they endured during that painful period in the history of Penhalonga.

“I am disheartened that someone in Harare just wakes up and claim that we are exhuming fresh graves. We are simply giving our departed relatives befitting reburials. They were not buried in a decent manner when they died in the mine accident. They were accorded paupers’ burials back then.

“These were foreign miners from Mozambique and Malawi, and nobody came to claim their bodies. However, those from Zimbabwe who also perished in the mine mishap had their bodies claimed and were accorded befitting burials,” he said.

Chief Mutasa said the mine, which was operated by Cordon Mine, collapsed between 1948 and 1950.

“After that, they were ordered to stop operations and foreign workers from Mozambique and Malawi who died in the accidents were the ones who were interred here. There are no fresh graves at all.

“When the same company came back recently to resume work, they asked for permission to exhume the graves. The was done out of respect for the dead. The mine also said they intend to establish a processing plant at that site and they did due diligence, to which nobody objected.

“We performed our traditional rituals as the people of Mutasa and cleansed the area before the exhumation of the remains and their subsequent reburials,” he said.

Chief Mutasa said they will perform more traditional ceremonies to cleanse the site in the near future.

A contracting company representing Cordon Mine – Mining Portfolio – is leading the exhumation process.

Mining Portfolio human resources manager, Mr Tendai Mandonga, refuted claims that they were exhuming fresh graves.

Mr Mandonga said they will continue to take appropriate action if they discover more shallow graves during their operations.

“We are dedicated to upholding the integrity of our operations, and should our work uncover any additional shallow graves, we will humbly engage the relevant authorities and ensure that all proper protocols are followed,” he said.

Headwoman Eunice Risinauta Charumunga Mutasa hailed the reburials, saying this will see the deceased’s spirits resting in peace.

“The deceased’s spirits were not resting all these years. Some of them were manifesting through spirit mediums commending Chief Mutasa for allowing them to be accorded decent reburials,” she said.

It was alleged that one of the deceased, who identified himself as Mano from Mozambique, manifested through Ms Emily Chakanza, who is the headwoman’s aide, thanking them for a job well done. – Manica Post