BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE MORE than 40 000 bodies that are buried at Chikomo Chemhute Cemetery, which is part of the Glen Forest Memorial Park face being exhumed after allegations were raised that the burial grounds and crematorium had not been approved by government.
Chikomo Chemhute Cemetery was supposed to have sought and obtained approvals from the ministries of Local Government, National Housing and Public Works as stipulated by sections 35 and 14 of the Cemeteries Act, and the Cremation Act, respectively according to a local law firm.
“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) investigates 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,” lawyers from Mhishi Nkomo Legal Practice, representing Fopuld Investments Private Limited, said in a letter to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
Fungai Mparadzi, the chairman of Cadrina Investments Private Limited, referred all questions on the matter to Marowa Meleki, the head of service provision at Glen Forest Memorial Park.
Meleki said Chikomo Chemhute was part of the Glen Forest Memorial Park, where families were allowed to choose places where they want their relatives to be buried.
“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,” Meleki said.
He, however, did not give clarity on allegations that Chikomo Chemhute was a separate entity under Fopuld Investments, and whether the cemetery needed the Local Government Minister’s approval.
Fopuld Investments (Pvt) Ltd is said to hold 49% shares in Cadrina Investments (Pvt) Ltd, which also owns Chikomo Chemhute.
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Chikomo Chemhute is an entity registered for purposes of holding the asset on which the Glen Forest Memorial Park is.
It is alleged that Fopuld Investments later discovered that the cemetery and crematorium at Glen Forest were unlawful, as they did not seek, or had not obtained approvals from government.
The Mhishi Nkomo lawyers allege that Mparadzi hid the existence of Chikomo Chemhute from Fopuld Investments, adding that the entity had never appeared on the books of Cadrina Investments.
However, grave purchases 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.
They also alleged that Mparadzi has been selling graves through Evolution Insurance over the past five years.
The matter came to light after one of Cadrina Investment directors, Joseph Crnkovic, who represents 100 overseas investors, discovered the offence.
He said he was forced to flee the country after raising alarm.
Crnkovic denied that Chikomo Chemhute and Glen Forest shared one licence. He claimed that Chikomo Chemhute owned subdivision 24 of Whelston, a farm in Glen Forest measuring 40,4670 hectares.
“Audited financial statements of Cadrina Investments Private Limited show that it was Cadrina that was in 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,” Crnkovic said.
Mhishi Nkomo Lawyers have also written to local service provides on behalf of Crnkovic, asking them to stop buying graves at Chikomo Chemhute.
Zacc spokesperson John Makamure said: “I am yet to see the complaint, but if they reported the matter, they did the right thing and it will be investigated thoroughly.”
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