THE Makoni District Heroes’ Acre was desecrated when three Rusape men did the unthinkable and grew hundreds of mbanje plants on top of fallen gallant fighters’ graves.
Detectives in Rusape recently arrested the trio of Abdulla Zacharia (38), Tafirenyika Dollar Marima (42) and Taurai Nyamudzura (27) – all of Magamba Extension, Rusape for growing mbanje and violating fallen heroes’ graves.
The three pleaded guilty to the charges of growing mbanje. Zacharia was sentenced to 18 months, Marima three years and Nyamudzura was made to do 270 hours of community service.
Marima, Nyamudzura and Zacharia appeared before provincial magistrate, Mrs Elizabeth Hanzi and Mr Gift Mutigwa prosecuted.
Mr Mutigwa said: “On March 17, police received a tip-off to the effect that there were people growing maize at the district shrine.
“When police arrived, no-one was seen at the fields, but discovered that there were some mbanje plants which were growing freely. Detectives noted that there was some soil basins with manure underneath, which showed that someone was looking after the mbanje plants.
The following day around 5am, the detectives, who were on surveillance, saw Marima and his wife, Tsitsi Tsokota entering one of the fields at the graveyard. Marima plucked some green mbanje leaves from one of the plants and stashed them in his trouser’s pocket. As the two were about to leave the field, detectives emerged and arrested him. Marima admitted that the field and mbanje was his and the next field belong to Zacharia, who on arrest admitted the field belonged to him,” said Mr Mutigwa.
Nyamudzura also pleaded guilty when he appeared before Mr Kubonera and Mr Chawatama prosecuted.
The three, also appeared before Rusape provincial magistrate, Mr Shane Kubonera, as self actors, and denied charges of contravening Section 110 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9.23, which criminalises tempering with graves.
The State led by Mr Chawatama told the court that the accused persons removed tombstones from graves and cultivated maize and mbanje at the heroes’ acre.
“On the date unknown to the State, but during the period extending from December 2016 to March 18, 2017 and at Makoni Heroes’ Acre in Rusape, the accused persons removed tombstones from graves, cultivated maize at the graveyard and destroyed the surroundings by cutting down trees.
“On January 25, 2017 the accused persons were seen preparing the land for cultivation by Gilbert Paya the secretary of the Makoni District Fallen Heroes’ Trust and were advised to stop cultivating at the premises, but went on to plant maize in the graveyard.
“The accused persons destroyed tombstones which marked the grave boundaries and they can no longer be identified,” said Mr Chawatama.
Mr Kubonera adjourned the matter to April 10, 2017 for trial.