Zim court blocks traditional chief from a widow’s property

Harare – A Zimbabwean High Court has stopped a traditional chief from distributing or selling attached property of a widow who was fined one cow and nine goats by the chief for allegedly unveiling the tombstone of her late husband without consulting her husband’s relatives.

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The widow, Beauty Moyo of Mberengwa district in Midlands province in southern Zimbabwe was fined one cow and nine goats by Chief Mutevaidze on allegations of flouting customary procedures by unveiling a tombstone of her late husband Robbie Moyo without informing “most family members and relatives”.

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However, through her lawyer Lizwe Jamela of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Beauty approached the High Court seeking an order to stop execution of the attached property by the traditional chief.

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The order was granted in her favour by Bulawayo High Court Justice Judge Nokhuthula Moyo on Tuesday.

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In the court  papers Beauty said: “I also believe that by going ahead with the unveiling of my husband’s tombstone I was merely exercising and expressing my constitutionally guaranteed freedom of conscience and a custom that seeks to punish me for so doing is against the constitution. I also believe that this matter also revolve[s] around my constitutionally protected right as a woman not be subjected to customs and traditions that infringe on my rights.”

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Beauty’s husband died in March 2013 and they have four children. She added that soon after the death of her husband a younger brother to the husband Felix Moyo started behaving differently.

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“I later got to know that he was after my late husband’s deceased estate as he started inquiring on what he was going to get from the estate. At some point he indicated to me that my late husband had promised to give him one cow after every 3 years and a lump sum of $3 000,” she said.