Mutare — At least 35 bodies believed to be of liberation war fighters who were brutally murdered by Rhodesian forces have been exhumed at Guinea Fowl Gold Mine on the foot of Chiremba Mountain at Old Mutare.
The remains were discovered last Friday. Nine miners working in a vertical shaft on the mine stumbled upon the remains which were in plastic bags at 45 metres down the shaft.
Besides the remains, the miners also recovered grenades, rifles and ammunition. The grenades were disposed of by bomb engineers from 3 Engineers squad who were summoned to the mine yesterday after the mine owner Mr Oliver Mhandu reported to the police.
Mine manager Mr Thomas Maara said they were using shaft equipment when they stumbled on the remains.
"Our aim was to reach the 50-metres depth which is the first level of mining," he said. "We first came across the remains after digging for about 35 metres and they were in plastic bags.
"We just pulled them out and placed them on the surface. We continued with our mining until we reached about 45 metres when we stumbled upon more bodies. We first became suspicious after noticing a change on the soil texture as we went down. It became oily showing that some chemicals had mixed with the soil.
"From our discovery, it showed that acid was placed inside the plastic bags to speed up decomposition of the bodies. Besides human remains, we also recovered vehicle body parts as well as animals like horses' remains. This alone shows that there are more bodies buried at this mining shaft. We were digging vertically and if they could afford to dump animal remains, it shows that so many things are buried under this shaft."
The shaft is just a few kilometres from Grange military camp used by Rhodesians during the liberation war and locals said trucks would frequent the site on a daily basis where tippers were used to dump the bodies in the tunnel.
A farmer in the area Cde Gift Kagweda said a stakeholders meeting would be held at the site today.
"While we are up against the Rhodesian forces for the cruelty they did on liberation fighters and villagers, we feel that those who were mining here failed to have a human face," he said.
"How could they remove the remains and dump them in the open like that just for the love of money?
One of the financiers at the mine Mr Blessing Madondo said they did not want to offend anyone, but they believed that there were just a few remains in the shaft.
Hundreds of bodies believed to be those of liberation war fighters been discovered in other areas such as Chibondo in Mt Darwin and at former Castle Kopje Camp, popularly known as The Butcher, used by Rhodesian soldiers in Rusape.