Zipra veterans to visit Mt Darwin ‘death mine’

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The Zipra Veterans Trust would this week be sending a fact-finding team to Chibondo Mine in Mt Darwin following allegations that former Zanla combatants defied a court order stopping the exhumation of remains of victims of the liberation war from the disused mine.

The chairman of the Zipra Veterans Trust, Ray Lazarus Ncube, told NewsDay yesterday the team would check if the Zanu PF-aligned Fallen Heroes Trust was complying with the High Court order issued early this month calling for exhumations to be “stopped forthwith”.

The order was given by Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, about two weeks ago following an application by the Zipra Veterans Trust to stop the exercise.

“At the beginning of the week we are sending a team to the site. We have heard that exhumations are still going on at the disused mine.

“It is now quite a challenge to get there because one has to clear with the governor, the provincial administrator, the district administrator, and the police. But even in the face of all these hurdles we have to get there,” said Ncube.

The Fallen Heroes Trust claimed that the over 600 skeletons it had recovered during the short-lived exercise were victims of atrocities committed by Rhodesian forces during the liberation war.

The Zipra Veterans Trust argued in its court application that some of the skeletons could be of former Zipra fighters killed at 2:1 Infantry Battalion in Mount Darwin in the Zipra-Zanla clashes during demobilisation at independence.

“Zipra soldiers fought right around the country and because of that there are a lot of areas where Zipra veterans were buried, in both pre- and post-independence battles,” said Ncube.

“So wherever we go for our peace project, villagers always show us some of our comrades’ graves.”

Government recently announced it had taken over the exercise and would ensure the exhumations were carried out by experts.