SUSPECTED gold panners recently dug up a man’s grave in Esikhoveni area in Umzingwane District, Matabeleland South province where they left human remains scattered following a long-held community myth that the deceased was buried with his treasure, among them gold.
The incident took place in the dead of the night last week and was discovered in the morning by a villager who was passing by the place and the remains were re-buried last Wednesday. It is not known whether they got what they were looking for as no arrests have been made so far, with police saying they were still carrying out investigations into the case.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele confirmed the incident to Sunday News on Friday.
He said the dug-up grave was discovered in Esikhoveni by a local who was passing by and saw that there was freshly dug earth and scattered human remains.
A report was made to the police who attended the scene where it became apparent that the grave had been tampered with by suspected gold panners.
“It is true that there is a case of that nature where suspected gold panners dug a grave believed to be a white man’s in search of gold. The dug-up grave was discovered by a local villager and a report was made to the police. We are treating the case as tampering with a grave but no arrests have been made so far. Investigations are still in progress,” said Chief Insp Ndebele.
He referred further questions to the District Development Coordinator, Mr Peter Mahlatini, who said the grave according to the village head a Mr Mabhena was known to belong to a white man who died more than seven decades ago. He confirmed the community held myth that the white man was said to have been buried with his treasure including gold which most likely prompted the gold panners to defy both African tradition and morals concerning the dead. Mr Mahlatini also pushed the theory that the gold panners could have used their gold detector machines and suspicion is high that they could have detected and followed a trail of the coffin’s handles.
“The grave is not in a homestead. It is close to a functional mine and according to the village head – a Mr Mabhena it belonged to a white man who died around 1949. The gold panners could have believed the long-held community myth that the white man was buried with his treasure including gold or could have used their detectors and whatever they (detectors) told them, they could have followed that. After consultations with the relevant stakeholders we re-buried the remains on Wednesday,” said Mr Mahlatini.
Umzingwane Member of Parliament Retired Brigadier-General Levi Mayihlome said he was apprised of the incident.
“I was told of the incident. I couldn’t attend the proceedings because of Covid-19 but it’s an unfortunate incident where people go to those lengths looking for treasure,” he said.