Government Speaks On Mt Hampden Graves | Full Statement

Source: Government Speaks On Mt Hampden Graves | Full Statement

Statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage in response to a report on “the destruction of graves” in the Mt. Hampden area to pave the way for the Cyber City Development Project:

13/03/2024

The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage has noted with concern a social media article attributed to one Mr Eugene Majuru alleging that graves are being destroyed in the Mt. Hampden area to pave the way for the Cyber City Development Project. In the same article, Mr Majuru alleges that no consultations were done with traditional leaders, particularly of the Mbari Clan.

The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage wishes to advise the public and all the concerned stakeholders that wide consultations have been conducted with all parties concerned and some are still ongoing.

In doing so, the Ministry is strictly guided by the relevant legislation and traditional customs deserving of such a process.

For the record, all ancient graves are protected by both National Museums and Monument of Zimbabwe Act Chapter 25:11 and recent graves by the Cemeteries Act Chapter 5:04.

The two acts complement each other legally in the protection of such ancestral places of value. The Cemeteries Act Chapter 5:04 Section 26 stamps the protection of tombs or monuments as indicated below:

“Any person who wantonly or willfully destroys or does or cause to be done any damage, defacement or disfigurement to any monument, vault, tombstone or grave whether within or without a cemetery, or to any building, erection, railing, fence, tree, shrub, plant, thing or natural object, adjoining, connected with or relating to any such monument, vault, tombstone, or grave, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

The cemetery in question is mostly composed of remains of former farm workers. The majority of graves are known and their relatives have come forward to identify them.

The Ministry through NMMZ continues to widely consult with other stakeholders. The Mount Hampden area falls under Chief Zvimba whom the Ministry through NMMZ has again fully consulted.

Whereas the Ministry acknowledges the historical existence of claims of other clans who inhabited the Greater Harare area such as Mbari, Gutsa, Hwata and others, their legal and traditional status rests with other government departments and cannot be the subject of the current project.

As this project is being undertaken, developers have been made aware that should any grave be discovered during construction, the developer should stop and engage an archaeologist or curator of cemeteries who is qualified to categorize the graves and advise on the appropriate action such as exhumation to pave way for works to continue.

While the Ministry of Home Affairs recognizes that it is a constitutional right of every stakeholder to raise issues of concern about development, these should be factual and not based on hearsay.

The Ministry remains available for clarification regarding the exhumations and reburials of those buried in Mount Hampden.

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