MATOBO — Chiefs and cultural leaders have assigned local watchmen to protect the Njelele Shrine against illegal and unsanctioned visits.
Report by Silas Nkala, Staff Reporter
This followed illegal rituals at the sacred place by alleged ex-Zanla combatants early this year.
Umthwakazi kaMzilikazi Cultural Association leader Nhlanhla Khumalo yesterday told NewsDay that following the cleansing ceremony by the local traditional leadership, spirit mediums and villagers to appease the ancestral spirits in the wake of the unsanctioned ex-Zanla combatants’ rituals in the area, chiefs and cultural leaders had decided to assign villagers to provide security at the shrine.
“It was agreed after the cleansing ceremony that Njelele must be secured from any illegal invasions through villagers providing security and surveillance,” Khumalo said.
“This is meant to keep away suspicious conduct and unsanctioned rituals.”
He said there were people who were now guarding the shrine all-day long.
Khumalo said after realising government could not protect their shrines, cultural leaders and villagers took it upon themselves to do so. He said people in Matabeleland suffered during Gukurahundi when their human rights were violated and this time they would
resist attempts to destroy their cultural heritage.
Ex-Zanla combatants led by Noworeka Tensi have visited the Matopo shrine four times this year alone and conducted their cleansing ceremony without consulting local traditional leaders.
The latest in the unsanctioned rituals saw over 500 ex-Zanla combatants accompanied by some chiefs visiting Zipra’s Nampundu and Freedom camps in Zambia where they collected soil and stones from graves of Zipra cadres who were killed during the war and taking them to Matopo Hills in August to conduct rituals.
Defiant war veterans told the media during their last visit to Matopo Hills that they would be visiting Angola and Tanzania to bring soils and stones from graves of cadres who died during the war to conduct more rituals at the shrine.
Chiefs’ Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira, his deputy Mtshane Khumalo and Matabeleland South Provincial Chiefs’ Council representative Chief Malaba were not reachable on their mobile phones yesterday.