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REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE)

Court orders Mugabe exhumation and reburial

A magistrate in Chinhoyi on Friday ordered that the body of former President Robert Mugabe be exhumed from his rural home village and be reburied at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare, reigniting the family versus government feud over the burial of the late veteran leader.

The ruling comes after the Zvimba chief dragged the Mugabe family to his local traditional court on charges of breaching traditional laws by burying Mugabe in his homestead.

Mugabe’s children then approached the courts seeking to challenge the traditional chief’s orders.

Mugabe died in September 2019, aged 95 and was buried at Kutama after his family declined to have him interred at the National Heroes’ Acre.

The former leader, who was deposed in 2017 after the military interfered in the Zanu PF succession wars, having ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, had expressed a wish to be buried next to the grave of his mother, Bona Mugabe, the family said.

In May, a traditional court in Zimbabwe ordered Mugabe’s widow, Grace, to exhume his body and have him reburied at the Heroes’ Acre.

The chief said Grace Mugabe had not followed local traditions when burying the former president, and also fined her five cattle and a goat.

Mugabe’s three children filed a court application for the chief’s order to be set aside, arguing that he acted out of his authority when he approached a village court to decide on Mugabe’s rightful place of burial.

In an interview, the former president’s nephew, Leo Mugabe, said the ruling by the chief was irrelevant.

“It’s a ruling against a widow and the widow has nothing to do with the burying of her husband.”

A close family member told the Zim Morning Post that “the family will regroup and approach the High Court.”

“It is a judgment from hell and has an external hand behind it,” said the family member who requested anonymity.

Information ministry said government noted the ruling and that neither government nor the president were involved in the matter.