An enraged Chipinge woman is demanding the exhumation of her daughter who was mysteriously buried at night three weeks ago following a misunderstanding with her in-laws.
Ms Susan Antonio of Hanyani Village under Chief Mutema says her 21-year-old daughter, Ms Talent Sigauke, died in South Africa a month ago.
Ms Sigauke was then hurriedly buried under the cover of Covid-19 restrictions in her mother’s absence.
Ms Antonio is now knocking on several doors of authority as she seeks to have her daughter’s body exhumed with the hope of finding answers on why she was buried in her absence.
She suspects foul play.
In fact, Ms Antonio suspects that her son-in-law, Mr Moses Mtisi, murdered his wife in South Africa.
Mr Mtisi came for the burial in Chipinge, but returned to South Africa shortly after.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from him were fruitless. His relatives have also remained tight-lipped over the matter.
Said Ms Antonio: “I am still trying to come to terms with what happened to my daughter. On the day of her burial at around 11am, I was at my homestead when I heard people crying at the Mtisi homestead. Little did I know that they were actually mourning my daughter. I was shocked when a close friend of mine visited me to pay her condolences. That is how I got to know that my daughter was no more.
“Later on, my in-laws came to tell me about Talent’s death. They told me that her body had been repatriated from South Africa. I directed them to my daughter’s father since we separated years back,” she said.
Ms Antonio said her in-laws came back later in the company of people who claimed to be law enforcement agents. They ordered her to attend Ms Sigauke’s funeral.
“This is how my relatives and I ended up attending the funeral. However, a misunderstanding ensued as the Mtisis were instructed to pay lobola before burying Talent.
“This degenerated into a fight and we had to flee. After our departure, the Mtisis proceeded to bury Talent’s body at around 8pm that night. None of my relatives viewed the body. I do not even know if the body they buried was actually that of my daughter,” said the woman with grief written all over her face.
Ms Antonio added: “After contacting my brother in South Africa, he told me that Talent succumbed to injuries she sustained from Moses’ assaults. I shall not rest until justice prevails.” In an interview with The Manica Post, Chipinge Rural District Ward Six Councillor Phenios Muzamana confirmed the development and called for further probing on the matter.
“The late woman’s body was buried at night following a feud between the two families. We urge the police to investigate this. It is taboo in our society to conduct a burial at night,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers’ Association president, Mr George Kandiero, shared similar sentiments.
“In our culture, you cannot bury a person at night. Even the Covid-19 pandemic does not force us to conduct burials in the dead of the night.
“This fast-tracked burial indicates something sinister. Exhumation and proper investigations will bring the much-needed closure for this woman’s family. If the in-laws have nothing to hide, then they should cooperate,” said Mr Kandiero.
He added: “The lady’s parents had every right to be part of the funeral proceedings. They should have been given a chance to conduct their family rituals before burial.”
Village head Mr Hanyani said Ms Sigauke’s burial was fast-tracked in line with Covid-19 regulations.
Following a meeting between the Zimbabwe Association of Funeral Assurers and the Ministry of Health and Child Care in April, it was resolved that all burials should be done within 24 hours of death, with all bodies treated as Covid-19 contaminated except those involved in road traffic accidents and homicide.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa said considering that Ms Sigauke passed away in South Africa, the case has to be investigated in the neighbouring country before the police can do local investigations.
“We are not sure if it was recorded as a murder case in South Africa. However, the matter needs to be investigated in South Africa for further management in Zimbabwe.”