Cemetery owner out of custody
A Harare man appeared in court yesterday on allegations of selling more than 50 graves at US$80 each 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 on fraud charges.
He appeared before a Harare Magistrate and was released out of custody to October 12.
On Tuesday, 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 was also being investigated for other cases of fraud using the same method of operation.
In February this year, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works wrote to police in Waterfalls advising them that they had not allocated any land for cemetery purposes to Rukodzi at either Retreat and Eyestone Farms.
“Could you please be advised that the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works did not allocate any land for cemetery purposes to Rukodzi Parish Pvt Ltd at the above properties. Be guided accordingly,” reads the letter dated February 7, 2023, from the ministry.
On Tuesday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed that 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.
So far there are 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.
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.