Living with the dead at Ushe Wokunze

Veronica Gwaze
RESIDENTS of Harare South are living in fear of a spiritual backlash after they were allocated residential stands in a cemetery under the Ushe Wokunze Housing Co-operative.
Doves Funeral Services Mortuary has confirmed through supervisor Mr Heater Murongi that it is carrying out exhumations in the area. The program is set to continue.

The exhumations are funded by a private company which has retained ownership of the land.

“We are removing the remains from Ushe Wokunze and burying them at Mbudzi Cemetery. We could tell that some of these graves where from way back but some of them where very shallow,” he said.

However, it is the revelation that the area had been a cemetery that has left stand owners in fear of spiritual repercussions.

Mrs Menistegy Gwiri (62) has been living at the farm for three years. Together with her husband, she had to consult a spiritual healer after feeling as though the ground was collapsing underneath her as she was sweeping the yard.

Six graves where exhumed from her yard.

“I did not know that for the three years I have lived here, I was living with graves in my yard. I would sweep the yard every day and even till part of the land in my yard. But I never thought there were graves in our yard,” said Mrs Gwiri, very close to tears.

Mrs Gwiri said she believes the bad dreams and weird visions she has been experiencing could have been influenced by the graves.

Human remains were also exhumed from two graves on Tererai Machingura’s residential stand.

“It all started the day I decided to cut down the huge tree that has been in my yard since I came to stay here. A voice came to me in a dream saying, ‘Ko zvawatema mumvuri wangu wautemerei (why did you cut away my shed)?” she narrated.

Mr Claudios Munyaradzi, who has lived in the area for six years, knew there were seven graves on his stand.

He said when he was allocated the residential stand in 2012, he notified the owners of the farm.

Mr Munyaradzi alleges they never responded until last December.

The private company has since engaged Doves Funeral Services for the exhumation program.

To date, 41 graves have been exhumed.

However, residents fear vengeful spirits of the deceased and have raised concerns. They are calling for cleansing rituals to be performed.

Zimbabwe National Practitioners Association (ZINPA) president, Sekuru Friday Chisanyu said according to African Tradition Religion (ATR), it is not proper to live amongst strangers’ graves; and neither can a person be buried by a stranger.

“It brings bad omen and its unacceptable in African Tradition for one to live amongst strangers’ graves. And again a person cannot be buried by a stranger and rest in peace. Remember we have what is called ngozi and this is how it comes about,” said Sekuru Chisanyu.

He said reburial is a physical act which does not settle issues spiritually.

“Even for the fear they have to be dealt with, rituals need to be performed because that spirit will continue to linger. Hence the need for cleansing to be done so that it rests,” he added.

Sekuru Chisanyu also posited that rituals in line with one’s church could be performed so that stand owners will feel comfortable in their homes.

“The chief of that area should also be engaged so that he performs cleansing rituals because such spirits in future will end up tormenting all the people.”

Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe (UDACIZA) secretary general, Reverend Edison Tsvakai said relatives of the deceased are supposed to be part of the exhumation process because a person needs to be buried by their relatives.

“The relatives should be located and be part of the process but it is sad because they cannot be found.

“Prayer should then play that part, both parties (those that live there and the Doves team) need to pray before they do anything so that God intervenes and protects them,” said Rev Tsvakai.

He however added that when a person dies, their spirit ascends to heaven and therefore once they are buried, the spirit rests.

“There should be no problems because we as Christians believe that when we die, we go to heaven and nothing superstitious should happen.

“Fear is in the human brains and we ought to pray for the fear to depart,” he said.

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