The body of former president Robert Mugabe was buried Saturday at his rural home in Zvimba in a low-key event.
Mugabe’s family gathered at Kutama village where they witnessed his burial under tight security.
The late president’s relatives claimed there were people that wanted to “defile” the 95-year-old’s body for ritual purposes.
Mugabe’s family decided to bury him in Kutama after initially agreeing that his remains be interred at the Heroes Acre in Harare.
A mausoleum was already being constructed at the national shrine.
At the burial site in Kutama, which is in his homestead’s courtyard, the family tightened security and a top engineering firm was hired to secure the grave. Angle iron screens and toughened locks were installed to seal the entire house which was built by Mugabe’s first wife, Sally.
Initially journalists and other mourners were prevented from accessing the burial site. They were only given access during the burial late in the afternoon.
Insiders said the grave was cast with thick concrete, lined with stainless steel plates and reinforced with steel.
“The high security is premised on the grounds that we fear there are people who want to steal his body for ritual purposes and we are just basically taking precautions,” a member of the Mugabe family said.
Mugabe’s sister Regina Gata told mourners that Grace had foiled plans by people who wanted to use her brother’s body for rituals.
“She stood as a hero and said she would not betray him even on his death bed,” Gata said.
“She took care of him in life and death and defended his body so that nobody could defile it.
“There are others who wanted to do traditional things on it, but we stood firm and said no.”
She said the decision to bury Mugabe in Kutama was not taken by Grace, but the family wanted to honour his wish not to be buried at the Heroes Acre.
“They simply respected the wishes of a dead person, this is not their doing and I am here to vindicate them,” Gata said.
Grace’s sister Junior Shuvai Gumbochuma said Mugabe told his relatives that he did not want to be buried at the Heroes Acre because he had been insulted.
“I spoke to him in person and asked him why he did not want to be buried at the national shrine and his response was simply ‘I was demeaned and insulted’”, she said.
Mugabe reportedly told his close relatives that he did not want to be buried by his former colleagues who toppled him in a coup in November 2017.
The Roman Catholic Church’s Harare Diocese vicar general Father Kennedy Muguti said Grace fought to ensure Mugabe’s wishes were respected.
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs minister Mary Mliswa was the only notable government and Zanu PF official who attended the burial.
Zanu PF described the decision to bury Mugabe in Kutama instead of the Heroes Acre as a political gimmick.
“We indeed respect the wishes of families of deceased heroes, hence get saddened when manoeuvres that border on political gimmicks begin to unfold on the issue concerning an illustrious liberation icon,” Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said in a statement.
He said Mugabe’s family had “surreptitiously” taken his remains to Zvimba.