By NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO-based pressure group Ibhetshu LikaZulu yesterday said it had begun a programme to replace Gukurahundi memorial plaques that were stolen last month in Bhalagwe, Maphisa and Silobela.
The plaques had been erected in memory of hundreds of people that were killed during the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres and were buried in mass graves. In Silobela some of the victims were thrown into a disused mine. A plaque was then erected in memory of the 12 villagers killed in Silobela in 1985.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu co-ordinator Mbuso Fuzwayo yesterday said the civic group had launched a fundraising campaign to mobilise financial and material resources to replace the recently stolen plaques as part of the Gukurahundi memorialisation.
“What is important with having those plaques is to make sure that those perpetrators who raped our mothers and sisters do not have peace until they acknowledge the need for a truth telling and reconciliation process,” Fuzwayo told Southern Eye.
“Plaques are important for memorialisation. They are destroying the plaques to erase the painful past, but we are forging ahead with this exercise to reinforce our mission statement that Gukurahundi will never be erased.”
In a statement recently, the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) condemned the destruction of the Gukurahundi memorial plaques, saying it was “an attack on the memory of the estimated 20 000 people who lost their lives during Gukurahundi, their families and survivors who continue to grapple with the trauma of this excruciating period”.
The NTJWG said Gukurahundi was part of Zimbabwe’s history which, though heinous, should not be forgotten.
Over 20 000 people were killed by the Fifth Brigade, according to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, which wrote a book about the atrocities titled Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace: A Report on the Disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands, 1980 to 1988.
Former President Robert Mugabe never apologised for the mass killings which he described as a “moment of madness”.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has opened public discussions on Gukurahundi, but critics have expressed doubt over his sincerity in dealing with the issue citing the continued “suspension” of exhumation and reburial of the victims.
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