POLICE have taken over investigations into the operations of Harare’s upmarket Glen Forest Memorial Park, where agricultural land was allegedly converted into a cemetery without proper documentation.
This comes amid reports that the project was approved by Goromonzi Rural District Council, although this could not be independently verified as council officials were not reachable for comment.
The matter was initially being handled by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) after one of the disgruntled shareholders, Joseph Crnkovic, claimed foul play over alleged illegal change of land ownership at Chikomo Chemute Farm, where the cemetery is located.
“I can confirm that we received the report in line with section 255(e) of the Constitution outlining the functions of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, and states that the commission can ‘direct the Commissioner-General of Police to investigate cases of suspected corruption and to report to the commission on the results of any such investigation, the matter will be referred to the ZRP for investigations’,” Zacc spokesperson John Makamure said.
The matter was exposed by Fopuld Investments, a sister company to 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 Glen Forest Memorial Park was operating illegally.
Crnkovic claimed that Chikomo Chemhute Farm was not designated to operate as a cemetery, but was agricultural land since it is located at the confluence of Mazowe River.
He accused Fungai Mparadzi and Maita Nzuwah of mortgaging title deeds of Chikomo Chemhute Farm to Ecobank without the knowledge of Industrial Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), which partly owns a quarter of the land.
“The IDBZ won in 2017 a quarter of Chikomo Chemhute Farm as an arbitration settlement. The IDBZ then got a permit from former minister Saviour Kasukuwere to build a cemetery on their quarter of Chikomo Chemhute, but they never did. Mparadzi then, without the knowledge of IDBZ, went and pledged the whole title deed to Ecobank for a loan,” Crnkovic said.
He alleged that IDBZ did not build a cemetery because then Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere had no authority to issue permits for cemeteries.
Glen Forest Memorial Park has, however, dismissed the allegations saying the cemetery project was approved by Goromonzi Rural District Council.
“The operations of the cemetery and the crematorium are licensed and regulated by Goromonzi Rural District Council. All applicable permits from the relevant authorities, including the Environmental Management Agency (Ema), have been obtained. For those familiar with the operations of the cemetery, the brick and cement lining and casing of graves was a specific requirement of the original Ema permit,” Glen Forest Memorial Park said in a statement.
The company said the malicious attacks on Glen Forest were made without due regard to the feelings of families whose relatives were buried at the graveyard.
“To the best of our knowledge, Folpud Investments is a foreign- controlled company whose principal 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 had 8,2 hectares of land at Chikomo Chemhute.
It said it was yet to finalise paperwork to operate a cemetery at the site.
Goromonzi Rural District Council chief executive Trust Madhovi did not respond to questions sent to him.
Crnkovic said Kasukuwere had no legal standing at that time to issue the permit since the land did not fall under his ministry’s purview.