Harare - A spear belonging to the last king of the Ndebele has been stolen from an archaeological site near Bulawayo, Zimbabwean state media has reported.
The state-owned Chronicle and Herald newspapers said a caretaker discovered the theft while doing his rounds on Sunday at Old Bulawayo, where King Lobengula's kraal used to be.
Thieves not only got away with the gold-plated spear, but also two other artefacts belonging to the late king, who ruled from 1868-94: a fly whisk and a clay pot, according to the reports.
Though there is no indication as to the monetary value of the stolen objects, their historical significance is huge.
Poor security at the run-down (and little visited) site is being blamed for the thefts. There are claims that there is only one caretaker employed at the site.
Fire swept through the site in 2010, destroying many of the structures which had been rebuilt in the 1990s. Conceived of as a theme park, it stands 17km from Bulawayo, which is Zimbabwe's second largest city.
Among the buildings reportedly destroyed at the time were beehive huts which were part of Lobengula's palace.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba told the Herald: "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."
In February, the Bulawayo-based Sunday News quoted the head of the state National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, Godfrey Mahachi, as saying that the authorities had "so far not responded" to a request for funds to be allocated for the site to be repaired after the fire.
At least $50 000 was needed, the paper said.