HomeLocal NewsEngage foreign experts on exhumations — Zipra

Engage foreign experts on exhumations — Zipra

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The Zipra Veterans’ Trust has implored government to engage foreign experts and human rights watchdog Amnesty International in the exhumation of remains of former liberation war fighters and villagers lying in unmarked mass graves dotted around the country.

The Zipra Veterans’ Trust deputy chairman and retired army colonel, Buster Magwizi, said Zimbabwe needed to apply scientific methods which include deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing system for facilitation of the positive identification of the remains.

Magwizi, who recently attended a scientific-based exhumation workshop in South Africa facilitated by experts from Argentina, said the archaic methods applied at Chibondo Mine in Mt Darwin were erroneous. National Healing minister Moses Mzila Ndlovu also attended the workshop.

“Forensic specialists need to be called upon in such issues, especially those (forensics) dealing with pathology and odontology,” said Magwizi.

“Zimbabwe has to adopt the system of DNA testing. Such a system will enable the deceased to be reunited with their families. Exhumations conducted at Chibondo Mine shaft in Mount Darwin were unprocedural and erroneous.”

Pathology relates to investigating the cause of a person’s death while odontology is the proper handling, examination and evaluation of dental evidence.

“We would like to urge government to adopt political ways of dealing with exhumations, thus it (government) has to establish a team with foreign exhumers and with Amnesty International. If this is not done immediate families of the deceased will be angered and their emotions violated,” Magwizi said.

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights.

“Scientific methods have to be implemented rather than look up to amadlozi (ancestral spirits) to detect origins of the deceased. Victims whose origins have not yet been identified and whose death has still not been declared are regarded as missing and this is a scourge to their relatives,” he said.

Thousands of Zimbabwe’s liberation war fighters were reportedly mass-buried at Chibondo and other unmarked graves by the Rhodesian government largely between 1972 and 1979.

The exhumations of bodies from the disused mine by the Fallen Heroes’ Trust at the beginning of the year ignited calls for the exhumation of all mass graves around the country.
However, Zipra successfully stopped the exhumations through a High Court order.

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