Stop disrespecting the dead – SPT

HARARE - The Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT) has called upon the Government of Zimbabwe to engage experts in order to assess the damage to bodies that has been caused by the disrespectful exhumations of bodies in Mount Darwin.

While the High Court ruled that the exhumations should be stopped, the Zanu (PF)-backed Fallen Heroes Trust has continued to dig up graves which they claim are the remains of Zimbabweans killed by the Rhodesian Army during the liberation war.

In a statement SPT said the country should at least meet the UN Minimum Standards for Exhumations which include engaging experts. According to the UN, the discovery of bodies is not simply about excavating and recovering a body but also about interpreting the findings in the appropriate context and relating both to the preliminary investigation and the laboratory analysis.

However, the Fallen Heroes Trust has not included experts but rather traditional leaders who do not have the forensic expertise to analyze a crime scene. Solidarity Peace Trust adds its voice to those calling for experts to be brought in at this stage, to assess the degree of damage done to date in Mount Darwin, and to advise on how to rescue at least

something of forensic significance from this site. We appeal to all those who have long standing desires for exhumations of graves in their areas, particularly in Matabeleland where graves from the massacres of the 1980s abound, not to follow, said a statement.

The Trust added that the conduct by the Fallen Heroes Trust is a clear demonstration of disrespecting the dead. These exhumations have been a violation of the rights of the dead to be treated respectfully and in a way that does not dismember them and result in their remains being arbitrarily scattered around.

The exhumations have destroyed the possibility of accurately identifying who these individuals are, and has seriously reduced the likelihood of dating when these murder victims entered the gravesite, said SPT.

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