Land baron arrested for illegally setting up cemetery
A Harare man has been arrested on allegations of selling more than 50 graves at US$80 each to Harare families on State land using burial orders and issuing receipts in the name of a legitimate cemetery company, Zororo Memorial Park.
John Rukodzi (49), the owner of the fake Rukodzi Parish Cemetery a few metres away from Zororo Memorial Park was arrested on Monday facing fraud charges.
Sources close to the investigations said John Rukodzi once applied for land from Harare City Council near Zororo Cemetery but then, without approval, moved into the nearby State land where he was doing his shady dealings.
He is also being investigated for other cases of fraud using the same method of operation.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said investigations were still in progress.
“The suspect was once arrested and fined by the police. He has however been arrested again for selling graves in the name of Zororo Memorial Park on State land while pocketing the money,” he said.
When The Herald visited the area yesterday, there were about 50 graves in which several people had been buried while the other five had only been dug.
The State land, which is just opposite the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, has no offices and no one manning the grave site. There is only a sign post inscribed Rukodzi Parish Cemetery which has two mobile numbers written on it.
In an interview, Zororo Memorial Park operations director Mr Sabastian Mutomba confirmed that John Rukodzi had allegedly been using burial orders using their company name in a bid to dupe several people.
He said the matter came to light recently when relatives of people who had been buried at Rukodzi Parish Cemetery visited their offices with a view of being issued with grave numbers so that they will visit the burial sites for their deceased relatives.
“This is when we discovered the offence and we made a report to the police who are now investigating the case. It is my hope that the law will take its course against those involved in these scams,” Mr Mutomba said.
Most burials in the city are now being conducted at city council’s Granville Cemetery along the Harare-Masvingo highway after the Warren Hills Cemetery got full.
But there are three private cemeteries at Zororo Memorial Gardens near Chitungwiza, Glen Forest Memorial Park in Hatcliffe and Restland Memorial Park in Dzivaresekwa.