By NQOBANI NDLOVU
UNKNOWN people last week destroyed memorial plaques that were erected on February 21 at Bhalagwe in Maphisa, Matabeleland South, in memory of the thousands that were killed in Midlands and Matabeleland provinces by the army.
Maphisa is one of the districts that bore the brunt of the 1980s mass killings in what is referred to as the Gukurahundi massacres, and in particular there are mass graves at Bhalagwe in the district where victims were killed and buried at the detention centre.
The militant Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) and Ibhetshu LikaZulu pressure group said they did not join the nation in celebrating National Youth Day, which coincides with former president Robert Mugabe’s 21st February birthday, as they wanted to mourn the departed by erecting tombstones in remembrance of Gukurahundi victims.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu coordinator Mbuso Fuzwayo said the pressure group suspected state agents destroyed the memorial plaques, adding that the group would visit Bhalagwe next week to erect another one in defiance.
“Obviously, it is the state that destroyed the plaques,” he charged.
“It is unfortunate that after over 35 years there are people who still want to hide the genocide matter.
“They can destroy the plaques, but they will never dampen our spirits.”
Fuzwayo said erecting Gukurahundi memorial plaques was a way of reminding government to address the emotive issue.
“They must be prepared. we will go and erect another one as a defiant message, and we are clear that we will not surrender or retreat,” he said.
State security agents last year blocked Ibhetshu LikaZulu and MRP from erecting Gukurahundi memorial plaques at Bhalagwe. Government has since turned Bhalagwe into a district Heroes’ Acre — a move criticised by some civic groups as an attempt to tamper with the evidence of mass graves.
Civic groups argue government must look for alternative land for a district Heroes Acre and leave Bhalagwe as a Gukurahundi memorial site.