From George Maponga in Masvingo
A Mwenezi family spent five days with the corpse of their daughter-in-law at its home after her family demanded payment of lobola upfront before burial.
Tendai Gwehama (32) of Chirangano Village in Mazetese communal lands died last Friday, but was only buried on Tuesday afternoon after police intervention.
Gwehama’s relatives demanded that her husband, Godfrey Hove (33) pays four beasts as compensation for non-payment of lobola for their daughter and R3 000.
This forced Gwehama’s remains, which were not in a coffin, to be in her matrimonial kitchen for the duration of the dispute.
Mourners were forced to abandon the body in the kitchen and sleep outside as the corpse had started decomposing.
Sources said after Hove failed to meet his in-law’s demands, they allegedly took three goats, a beast and an ox-drawn plough and marked a burial place for their daughter.
They then left before their daughter was laid to rest.
According to Shona custom, close relatives of a deceased person are the ones supposed to mark the burial place and preside over the burial.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Charity Mazula said they managed to broker peace.
“We intervened and the deceased who passed on last Friday was finally buried today (Tuesday),” she said.
Gwehama’s relatives risked being charged with extortion and violating a dead body.
“We want to warn the public that actions like this will see them being charged.
“Whenever there are such disputes, the deceased person(s) should be buried first and then the families can discuss their issues thereafter,” said Chief Inspector Mazula.
Speaking to The Herald, a distraught Mr Hove said he was relieved.
“I tried to engage my in-laws to no avail as they were adamant that they wanted me to pay lobola before they could bury my wife,” said Mr Hove.
“They took away three goats, a cow and an ox-drawn plough and left after only marking the grave where my wife was supposed to be interred.
“They then left saying we should complete the rest of the rituals on our own, but we could not bury the body in the absence of close relatives.”
Mr Hove said he was happy his in-laws finally relented.