BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
POLICE have resumed investigations into operations at Harare’s upmarket Glen Forest Memorial Park, where farmland is believed to have been converted into a cemetery without proper documentation.
It comes amid reports that the project has been approved by the Goromonzi Rural District Council, although this could not be independently verified as council officials could not be reached for comment.
The case was initially being handled by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) after one of the disgruntled shareholders, Joseph Crnkovic, claimed foul play over an alleged illegal change in land ownership at Chikomo Chemute Farm, where Cemetery.
“I can confirm that we have received the report pursuant to Section 255(e) of the Constitution outlining the functions of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, and state that the commission may ‘direct the Commissioner General of Police to’ investigate cases of persons suspected of corruption and to report to the commission on the results of such investigation, the matter will be referred to the ZRP for investigation,” Zacc spokesman John Makamure said.
The matter was revealed by Fopuld Investments, a sister company of Cadrina Investments, which claims to have a 49% stake in Glen Forest Memorial Park.
Fopuld Investments director Crnkovic filed a complaint with Zacc alleging that the Glen Forest Memorial Park was operating illegally.
Crnkovic claimed that the Chikomo Chemhute farm was not designated to function as a cemetery, but was agricultural land since it is located at the confluence of the Mazowe River.
He accused Fungai Mparadzi and Maita Nzuwah of mortgaging the title deeds of Chikomo Chemhute Farm to Ecobank without the knowledge of the Industrial Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), which partly owns a quarter of the land.
“IDBZ won a quarter of Chikomo Chemhute Farm in 2017 as part of an arbitration settlement. The IDBZ then obtained a permit from former minister Savior Kasukuwere to build a cemetery in their neighborhood of Chikomo Chemhute, but they never did. Mparadzi then went, unbeknownst to IDBZ, to pledge the full title deed to Ecobank for a loan,” Crnkovic said.
He alleged that the IDBZ did not build a cemetery because then local government minister Savior Kasukuwere did not have authority to issue permits for cemeteries.
Glen Forest Memorial Park, however, dismissed claims that the cemetery project was approved by Goromonzi Rural District Council.
“Cemetery and crematorium operations are licensed and regulated by the Goromonzi Rural District Council. All applicable permits from relevant authorities, including the Environment Management Agency (EMA), have been obtained. For those familiar with cemetery operations, the lining and wrapping of brick and cement graves was a specific requirement of the original Ema permit,” Glen Forest Memorial Park said in a statement.
The society said the malicious attacks on Glen Forest were carried out without due regard to the feelings of the families whose loved ones were buried at the cemetery.
“To our knowledge, Folpud Investments is a foreign controlled company whose director is Hillary Duckworth. It is understood that the Mukwa Fund, a Bermuda-based entity, is the ultimate beneficial owner of Folpud.
In a letter to Fopuld Investments lawyers, Mhishi-Nkomo Legal Practitioners, IDBZ confirmed that it owns 8.2 hectares of land in Chikomo Chemhute.
He said he had not yet finalized the documents to operate a cemetery on the site.
The chief executive of Goromonzi Rural District Council Trust Madhovi did not respond to questions sent to him by the two NewsDay and attorneys for Fopuld Investments on the matter.
Crnkovic said Kasukuwere at the time had no legal standing to issue the permit since the land was outside the jurisdiction of his ministry.
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