Over 40 000 bodies buried at Chikomo Chemhute Cemetery in Zimbabwe, which is part of the Glen Forest Memorial Park, face being exhumed. This is after allegations that the burial grounds and crematorium had not been approved by the government.

According to a local law firm, approvals should have been obtained by Chikomo Chemhute Cemetery from the ministries of Local Government, National Housing, and Public Works as stipulated by section 35 of the Cemeteries Act and section 14 of the Cremation Act.

Lawyers representing Fopuld Investments Private Limited, Mhishi Nkomo Legal Practice, said in a letter to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission: “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.”

Chairman of Cadrina Investments Private Limited, Fungai Mparadzi, referred all questions on the matter to the head of service provision at Glen Forest Memorial Park, Marowa Meleki.

Meleki said: “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.”

There was no clarity on whether the cemetery needed the Local Government Minister’s approval and allegations that Chikomo Chemhute was a separate entity under Fopuld Investments.

About 49% of shares in Cadrina Investments (Pvt) Ltd, which also owns Chikomo Chemhute, are held by Fopuld Investments (Pvt) Ltd. Chikomo Chemhute 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 they did not seek or obtain approvals from the government.

According to the Mhishi Nkomo lawyers, Mparadzi allegedly hid the existence of Chikomo Chemhute from Fopuld Investments and the entity had never appeared on the books of Cadrina Investments. Grave purchases, however, are said to be directed into Cadrina Investment’s bank account.

“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 lawyers wrote.

Mparadzi has also allegedly been selling graves over the past five years through Evolution Insurance. It was revealed after Joseph Crnkovic, one of Cadrina Investment directors representing 100 overseas investors, discovered the offence. He said he was forced to flee the country after raising the alarm.

Crnkovic claimed that Chikomo Chemhute owned subdivision 24 of Whelston, a farm in Glen Forest measuring 40,4670 hectares. He denied that Chikomo Chemhute and Glen Forest shared one licence.

Crnkovic said: “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.”

On behalf of Crnkovic, Mhishi Nkomo Lawyers have also written to local service providers asking them to stop buying graves at Chikomo Chemhute.

“I am yet to see the complaint, but if they reported the matter, they did the right thing and it will be investigated thoroughly,” said Zacc spokesperson John Makamure.

Find out more on this unfolding story at www.zimlooters.com