By Thabiso Mdhluli
WAR veterans in Matebeleland North province are seething with anger following repeated incidents in which cheeky thieves raid the provincial heroes’ acre and steal the perimeter fence.
War veterans in the province have reportedly sought help from a well-wisher in Umguza District who has since donated fencing material which was used to secure the shrine.
Sonny Mguni, who leads the provincial wing of war veterans, said he and his team will visit the shrine on Friday to assess the situation.
“We got a report from our people on the ground and we will be going there on Friday to assess the situation. That fence was donated by a businessman from Umguza to protect the shrine and we were excited by the development not knowing some people will steal it.
“No arrest has been made as yet but we suspect people from nearby villages but we will wait for police to do their job hoping that the suspects will be nabbed soon.
“We are told they cut the whole side and my fear is we will once again have a situation where cattle and goats damage the graves,” said Mguni.
The incidents of theft have been confirmed by the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ), which is constitutionally mandated with ensuring that the country’s burial places for heroes remains in good shape.
NMMZ director Dr Godfrey Mahachi told the State-owned Chronicle newspaper that vandalism at the Matabeleland North Provincial Heroes’ Acre in Lupane is worrying as burial places are sacred areas and people must respect the dead.
Mahachi said that his department will dispatch a team from the Bulawayo regional office to assess the damage and prepare a full report.
“I haven’t gotten a full report but I am disappointed that you get people with no respect like that. How can someone go to a provincial shrine and steal fence? This shouldn’t be happening at all.
“We thought we had moved a step in the right direction only to get people who don’t understand the value of such monuments. We will have a team from Bulawayo museums to go and assess the situation,” said Mahachi.
The Chronicle further reports that so daring are the thieves that only a few days ago, they allegedly cut and stole a good chunk of the monument’s perimeter fence. – Zimbabwe Voice ■