BY SILAS NKALA
BULAWAYO pressure group Ibhetshu LikaZulu has announced that it will replace the two Gukurahundi memorial plaques stolen from Bhalagwe and Silobela and would install five additional plaques at mass graves in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
The pressure group recently erected a plaque in Bhalagwe in Maphisa, Matabeleland South, and Silobela in the Midlands which were stolen in May and June.
In Bhalagwe, hundreds lie in mass graves at a disused mine, while in Silobela, a plaque was erected in memory of 12 villagers killed during the Gukurahundi massacres in 1985.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu co-ordinator Mbuso Fuzwayo yesterday told Southern Eye that they will replace the two plaques which were stolen, adding that money deposits for their manufacture had already been paid.
“We will replace the two which were stolen and erect others in Matabeleland North, South and the Midlands provinces. We intend to install five plaques before year end if all goes according to our programming,” Fuzwayo said.
“A plaque costs US$850. We have paid the deposits for the two plaques and by next week, they will be ready.
“The demand for plaques is just high because people are crying out for the recognition of their lost loved ones.”
Fuzwayo said the plaques would be erected despite resistance from suspected State security agents, adding that nothing would stop them from carrying out the exercise.
It will cost the pressure group US$4 250 to erect the five plaques.
Earlier this year, Fuzwayo said plaques were significant in remembering people who were killed, and mothers and sisters who were raped and murdered during the Gukurahundi genocide.
He said while they understood that truth-telling and peace and reconciliation were a process, there was need to ensure closure to the issue.
Ibhetshu likaZulu said those who destroyed the plaques were trying to erase the painful past where over 20 000 innocent civilians were killed by the notorious Fifth Brigade, according to a report by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace between 1980 and 1988.
The late former President Robert Mugabe never apologised for the killings, but he described the episode as a “moment of madness”.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa opened public debate on the issue, but nothing tangible has been done to assuage relatives of the victims.