BY ARNOLD FANDISO
THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission has been asked to investigate the alleged desecration of Gukurahundi mass graves particularly at Bhalagwe memorial site in Kezi, Matabeleland South province, by suspected State security agents.
The call was made by the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG), which said the matter deserved urgent attention as it was likely to scuttle the country’s national healing efforts.
In a statement, the NTJWG yesterday said the theft of the plaques at Bhalagwe undermined efforts to foster national peace, reconciliation, and healing, adding that it was an attack on the estimated 20 000 people who lost their lives during the 1980s Gukurahundi
The group said this was the second theft, after the first one occurred in 2019, with no arrests made to date.
“Back then, villagers consisting of victims, survivors, and families of victims of Gukurahundi atrocities were threatened and warned against participating in erecting similar structures. These incidents are indicative of intolerance and a deliberate effort to rewrite history by erasing the lived experiences of victims and survivors,” part of the statement read.
“Given Zimbabwe’s history of violence and conflict, memorialisation is an urgent and pertinent issue that must be prioritised as Gukurahundi is part of Zimbabwe’s history, which, though heinous, must not be forgotten.
“Plaques such as the one unveiled at Bhalagwe are important reminders of what happened in the past which must fill every Zimbabwean with a desire to play their part to guarantee non-recurrence of human rights violations such as Gukurahundi.
“The NTJWG specifically calls upon the NPRC to launch an investigation into the destruction of the plaque and hold the perpetrators of this callous act accountable.”
Over 20 000 civilians were reportedly massacred by State agents between 1982 and 1987 in what is now known as Gukurahundi as the Zanu PF government accused them of harbouring suspected ex-Zipra dissidents.
The massacres only stopped after the signing of the 1987 Unity Accord between then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe and Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo.
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