Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
A black market for graves is thriving at the sought-after Mtapa Cemetery in Gweru where graves are being sold for as much as $300, while council charges $11,50 and $23 for children and adults for the same graves.
While Mtapa Cemetery was decommissioned in 2008 with 16 185 bodies having being buried there, town clerk Ms Elizabeth Gwatipedza said there were 1 600 graves that had been bought in advance, which are still vacant.
She said it had come to her attention that some of the people or relatives who had rights to the 1 600 graves were allegedly selling them to willing people for as much as $300.
With the decommissioning of Mtapa Cemetery, Gweru now has Mkoba 9 Cemetery popularly known as Mupunzarima Cemetry and Mutasa Cemetery. Ms Gwatipedza said the alleged black market was beyond council since the graves in question were purchased way back.
“That one is beyond us as council,” she said. “These people purchased the graves long back and said they were for their relatives. They pay rentals yearly.
“Some of their relatives were buried in rural areas but now they keep the graves to make money. They do it secretly, so it is difficult for us to know what is happening.
“There are about 1 600 graves that are reserved at Mtapa Cemetery.”
Ms Gwatipedza said the cost of a grave at council cemeteries is $11,50 for children and $23 for adults.
“We double prices over the weekend and public holidays,” she said. “The total number of bodies buried at Mtapa Cemetery is 16 185 and it was decommissioned in 2008.”
Even after being decommissioned, Mtapa Cemetery remains the favourite of many bereaved families from Mkoba while shunning Mkoba 9 Cemetery.