Zimbabwe

Zim reserves right to sue UK over heroes' skulls – lawyers

2015-08-13 14:07

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Cape Town – Lawyers in Zimbabwe have reportedly said that the southern African country reserves the right to sue Britain over heroes’ skulls displayed at British museums.

This comes after President Robert Mugabe said early this week that his government was set to repatriate the skulls of the country’s fallen heroes which were taken to Britain during the colonial era.

Speaking during the country's Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, Mugabe said Britain had invited Zimbabwe to collect the remains, adding that the repatriation of the skulls would afford the war heroes decent burials.

Mugabe castigated Britain for having kept the skulls as "war trophies" in the British History Museum.

Zimbabwe attained its independence from Britain in 1980.

According to a report by the state-owned Chronicle newspaper on Thursday, relatives of the slain heroes had expressed outrage over the barbaric act.

International legal instrument

"They are angry with the British government that continues displaying the skulls of Zimbabwean heroes while purporting to teach Zimbabwe the values of human rights and democracy," the report said.

Legal experts in Harare said Zimbabwe reserved the right to sue for brutality in terms of international legal instrument.

"There are international conventions to recovery and restoration. The Mau Mau people in Kenya did the same [over the torture they were subjected to by the settler regime]; they sued the United Kingdom and won their case. We could follow the same route and our chances are quite good," Harare lawyer, Terence Hussein was quoted as saying.

Another lawyer, Jonathan Samkange said Zimbabwe could claim for damages against the UK, adding that the country could also sue Britain over the brutality of former prime minister Ian Smith's government.

The lawyers said Britain's continued holding of the heroes' remains was "despicable and unjustifiable" in a modern society.

Layer Tendai Toto said Britain owed Zimbabwe "unconditional apology" for keeping the skulls as "human trophies".

Human rights and democracy

The Sunday Mail indicated in July that the skulls included those of Mashayamombe Chinengundu of Mhondoro and Chief Makoni Chingaira of Rusape, who were beheaded by British invasion forces at the height of Zimbabwe’s first war of resistance against white settlers in the 1890s.

Their heads were reportedly shipped abroad in exchange for hefty sums of money.

The report said some researchers believed other heroes like Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi were hanged and their heads were also taken overseas.



Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  uk  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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