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

2015-08-13 14:07

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

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

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.