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Stealing from the dead

THE dead have always commanded the respect of the living and their bodies are normally revered by many.

THE dead have always commanded the respect of the living and their bodies are normally revered by many.

Jairos Saunyama

This has been so since time immemorial, but daring thieves take an exception to the rule.

Egyptian tombs have been plundered by daring thieves who did not care about the myths of the powers possessed by the dead.

These people, who specialise in stealing from the dead, seem not to be affected by the eerie feeling one gets when passing by a cemetery at night, for it is obvious that stealing from the dead is done during the wee hours of the day.

Take the case of a Marondera family that bade farewell to their beloved and barely a day after putting a tombstone on the grave, they found the grave destroyed. The motive was as obvious as daylight because the precious and expensive tombstone was nowhere in sight.

So smart and systematic was the theft that not even a broken piece was in sight. In Marondera, tombstone thieves are stripping graves and have targeted Lendy Park Cemetery.

Cemetery attendants were left shell-shocked after they discovered that some graves had their tombstones missing. This has sparked an outcry from residents who are urging the town council to take measures to stop the theft from their dead relatives’ graves.

“This is a new development in Marondera. How come graves are being destroyed and tombstones stolen? The council needs to be serious and employ security guards,” said a shocked Mandibaya Muradza of Paradise Park in Marondera.

Langton Nyamayedenga from Lendy Park said they are living in fear as daring thieves are “pilfering from their dead relatives”. “There is need for the council to employ security at the graveyards so that the dead can rest peacefully,” he said.

Marondera has two cemeteries with Lendy Park being a leafy graveyard. Naturally, tombstones at the cemetery lure thieves.

It costs $300 for a grave at Lendy Park Cemetery, while one has to fork out $30 at the other cemetery.

There are also suspicions that the thieves might be working in cahoots with the graveyard attendants employed by the town council. Town council spokesperson Elvis Chaperuka confirmed the crisis and said they were shocked by the incidents.

“We were all shocked when we were told that some graves have been stripped of tombstones. It has never happened before and the council is doing all it can to eradicate the problem.

“We reported the matter to the police and we hope the perpetrators are brought to book. The council is deploying officers on the ground,” said Chaperuka.

One of the grave diggers interviewed confirmed that the theft of tombstones was on the rise and nothing was being done to address the issue.

Mashonaland East Province Acting Police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Tendasi Mwanza confirmed the theft.

“Tombstone thieves are targeting cemeteries and we appeal to members of the public so that those with information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators should report to the police,” he said.