A GOLD coated spear and artefacts belonging to the last Ndebele King, Lobengula, have been stolen from Old Bulawayo with the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) coming under fire for poor security.
The spear, measuring 1,2m, was stolen from the historic site on the outskirts of Bulawayo where other artefacts of the Ndebele Kingdom are kept. The incident was discovered on Sunday by a caretaker at Old Bulawayo. Sources said the caretaker, Stanley Gwebu, discovered that the spear, a 45cm black fly-whisk and a small brown clay pot which were placed near King Lobengula's statue, were missing at around 1:45pm while conducting his chores and reported the matter to the police.
Police chief national spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the incident saying police were looking into the matter.
"I can confirm that there was a burglary at Old Bulawayo where some artefacts were stolen. But I don't have the finer details on the matter. However, police are investigating the matter," said Snr Asst Comm Charamba.
King Lobengula's descendent, Prince Zwide Khumalo, expressed shock at the incident saying the family had not been notified of the theft. Khumalo rapped the NMMZ for failing to provide adequate security at the historic site saying royal artefacts deserved to be kept in a more secure place.
"It raises a lot of concerns within the family, the Ndebele speaking people as well as other Nguni ethnic groups whose history was being kept at Old Bulawayo. There is something grossly wrong with the security at the national museums. This is not the first time there has been a break in at the museums meaning there is a weakness in their security system," he said.
Khumalo said the museums should remember that they are custodians of people's cultures.
Social commentator Cont Mhlanga echoed Khumalo's sentiments saying the break in exposes NMMZ for its recklessness in preserving culture.
"This is not the first time such an incident has happened. There was a break in four or five years ago. Mahachi (Godfrey director of NMMZ) must address this issue. This falls right on his door step," said Mhlanga.
He said it was baffling that a cultural site like Old Bulawayo was neglected yet it held priceless artefacts. "It doesn't make sense that a heritage site of that status can have a single caretaker. There is supposed to be more than one caretaker so that they can work in shifts," Mhlanga said.
He said there were other cultural sites that are also neglected such as Mhlahlandlela and Entumbane which house King Mzilikazi's grave and artefacts.