via Gukurahundi: Chief blocks exhumation 20 October 2014
CHIEF Mabhikwa of Lupane on Sunday blocked the exhumation of a Zapu official who was murdered at the height of the 1980s Gukurahundi atrocities even as his brother was a minister in the government which unleashed an army unit accused of the killings.
Nehemia Nkala, who was brother to late national hero and defence minister during the Gukurahundi atrocities, Enos Nkala, was killed by members of the 5th Brigade in 1983 at Lupanda area in Lupane.
Nkala, whose homestead is about six kilometres from his grave, was meant to be reburied on Sunday but the cultural custodian in the area refused to sanction the ceremony and instead ordered the family to put a tombstone on the current gravesite.
The Nkala family had initially approached the owner of the farm where the grave is located to request to put a tombstone but the latter refused forcing the family to approach the ministry of local government.
“The family applied for an exhumation order through the ministry of local government but were instead referred to Chief Mabhikwa. They held a meeting with Chief Mabhikwa about a week ago where the chief informed them that it was against their customs,” said a source close to the developments.
“Chief Mabhikwa refused to sanction the exhumation and insisted that the family erect a tombstone on the gravesite although Nkala’s remains are in a privately owned property.”
However, one of the headmen in the area who spoke to NewZimbawe.com but refused to be named revealed that Chief Mabhikwa refused to sanction the exhumation in fear of clashing with government officials who have quashed any debate or events linked to the atrocities.
“The Chief did not want to go against the status quo; that is why he refused to grant the family’s wish. It was more of a political decision than a cultural one,” the headman said adding that the chief’s decision had created tension between the farm owner and the Nkala family.
“The farm owner received a letter from the local government ministry, instructing him to allow the erection of the tombstone to go ahead at his property.
“This has caused a lot of tension in the area as people believe the government should have allowed the family to go ahead with the exhumation,” he said.
The Nkala family were left counting their losses after they had made preparations for the exhumation ceremony and even slaughtered a cow.
Nkala, was born 27 August 1942 and was killed on February 2, 1983.
“Nkala was based in Bulawayo and had visited his rural homestead when members of the 5th Brigade who were camped at Mkhomo school, a few kilometres away, heard that he was around. They came the following morning and picked him up and took him to their base.
“He was thoroughly beaten up and was only released in the evening of that same day. When he came home, you could tell he was not feeling well. The soldiers came for him again the next morning and this time he never came back. They shot him at a nearby farm and his body was buried in an anthill,” the relative said.
Nkala’s children – Owen, a well-known rank marshal at Basch Street terminus in Bulawayo and his sister, Sibonokuhle – also attended the ceremony.
Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) president, Mqondisi Moyo, who assisted the Nkala family, said it was one of their objectives as a party to assist survivors of the Gukurahundi atrocities, which reportedly claimed 20,000 civilian lives in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
“We have received an overwhelming response from many families in the area who are requesting us to assist them rebury their relatives who were killed by the 5th Brigade,” Moyo said.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda is the only high profile government official from Matabeleland who has spoken out on the atrocities saying he witnessed the torture and murder of some of the people but was powerless to stop the massacres.