BY NIZBERT MOYO
A MEMORIAL plaque erected on Sunday at Bhalagwe by Ibhetshu LikaZulu at Bhalagwe in Kezi, Matabeleland South province, in memory of the victims of the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres has reportedly been stolen again, a pressure group has alleged.
The plaque was erected by Ibhetshu LikaZulu to replace another plaque that was stolen by suspected State security agents in February 2019.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo claimed that the plaque cost them US$300.
“The Bhalagwe plaque has been stolen again. We hold the State responsible. Justice for Gukurahundi victims will come, we are not surrendering,” read a tweet by the pressure group.
On Wednesday, police initially blocked roads leading to the camp and detained traditional leaders and other guests for hours before allowing them to proceed with the event while observing COVID-19 regulations.
Since the inception of the new dispensation in November 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has exhibited signs of tolerance to debate on the atrocities and repeatedly called for dialogue on the subject.
He has since tasked the Matabeleland chiefs to engage the victims and possibly the perpetrators who include those in government.
On Tuesday, the pressure group held a memorial service for the victims in conjunction with the local community. Local chiefs presided over the function.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo yesterday revealed that police attempted to block the holding of the memorial service because his group had not sought clearance from the police.
He said the police action showed that Mnangagwa was not sincere in his claims of trying to address the Gukurahundi issue.
“We were supposed to have six chiefs, but we ended up with only two after others left because of the disturbances. The event was organised in conjunction with the local leadership to commemorate those who were killed, raped and kidnapped during this genocide and we replaced the plague that was stolen in February 28 2019,’’ Fuzwayo said.
“Bhalagwe is the face of all those who were killed, raped and abducted during the Gukurahundi era. Seeking clearance from police is like seeking permission to mourn your dead from the one who killed him.”
A Gukurahundi survivor, who also participated at the event, Mfundisi Mhlanga said his father was killed in front of villagers and schoolchildren at Sontala village on the first day of the atrocities.
“My brother, a war veteran was tortured at Bhalagwe for seven months while I was in Form Four, a situation that deprived me an opportunity to continue with school,” he said.
The late former President Robert Mugabe deployed the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade to Midlands and Matabeleland provinces between 1982 and 1987 purportedly to deal with ex-Zipra dissidents.
Gukurahundi resulted in the death of over 20 000 people.