A Mwenezi family spent five days with a decomposing corpse of their daughter-in-law, who died last Friday in their home after her family demanded payment of lobola before burial.
Tendai Gwehama (32) of Chirangano Village, in Mazetese communal lands, was only buried yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon- five days after her death, following police intervention.
Gwehama’s relatives wanted her husband, Godfrey Hove (33) to give them four beasts as compensation for non-payment of lobola for their daughter and 3000 rands for them to attend the funeral wake.
This forced Gwehama’s remains which were not in a coffin to remain in her matrimonial kitchen where she died last Friday.
Mourners were forced to abandon the body in the kitchen and sleep outside as the corpse started emitting a strong stench.
Sources said after Hove failed to meet his in-law’s demands, they allegedly took three goats, a beast and an ox-drawn plough and demarcated a burial place for their daughter. They then hustily left before their daughter was laid to rest.
According to Shona custom, close relatives of a deceased person are the ones supposed to demarcate their relative’s burial place and preside over the burial.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Charity Mazula said they managed to break the ice following a standoff between the two families.
“We intervened and the deceased who passed on last Friday was finally buried today (Tuesday),” she said.
She warned that Gwehama’s relatives risked being charged with extortion and violating a dead body.
“We however want to warn the public that actions like this will see them being charged. Whenever there are such disputes the deceased person(s) should be buried first and then the families can discuss their issues thereafter,” said Chief Inspector Mazula.
A distraught Mr Hove said he was relieved.
“I tried to engage my in-laws to no avail as they were adamant that they wanted me to pay lobola for my wife before they could bury her,” said Hove.
“They took away three goats, a cow and an ox-drawn plough and left after only marking the grave where my wife was supposed to be interred. They then left saying we should complete the rest of the rituals on our own but we could not bury the body in the absence of close relatives.”
Mr Hove said he was happy his in-laws finally relented.