Victims of Zimbabwe genocide still wait for justice

Victims of Zimbabwe genocide still wait for justice
Published: 10 December 2017 (230 Views)
In a school yard in Zimbabwe's Matabeleland region, a group of children laugh as they throw themselves into the air on a rusty set of swings.

It seems like a happy setting, but the children are playing in one of Zimbabwe's killing fields.

Thirty-four years ago, here in this yard in the Tsholotso district, soldiers shot dead seven teachers at point blank range and dumped them in a pit during the so-called Gukurahundi crackdown in the 1980s.

An estimated 20,000 people were killed when former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe ordered a military campaign against the rival liberation movement, PF- ZAPU.

The man who was the security minister at the time is now Zimbabwe's president, while the armed forces were headed by men who currently have senior ministerial posts.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, known as the "crocodile" for his political cunning, replaced 93-year-old Mugabe last month.

Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, stepped down after a military takeover in the wake of an internal power struggle within the ruling ZANU-PF party.

The downfall of Mugabe has now prompted many witness and victims of the atrocities to speak out for the first time.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, residents in Matabeleland said the southern African nation could not move forward without acknowledging and atoning for past crimes.

Jane Malazi, from Tsholotso, said she was tortured and had to watch her 14-year-old sister being raped.

An uncle was also killed, she said.

"It's very painful, as I speak it still hurts me," she told Al Jazeera. "Those who did these things should come and apologise to us, otherwise nothing has changed, we can't move on."

Mlomo Sibanda, a survivor of the "Gukurahundi" massacre, said he does not believe Mnangagwa will apologise.  

Pointing at the spot where the seven teachers had been buried in Tsholotso, the elderly man said, "They [soldiers] called everyone around this village to come here and dig new toilets.

"But, really, we were digging a grave."

Witnesses later told him the soldiers made the teachers line up next to the pits before shooting them dead, said Sibanda. They were killed on suspicion of being part of a rebellion.

An unknown number of civilians were among the dead in a series of massacres between 1983 and 1987, carried out by the North Korean-trained Fifth Army Brigade, which was under orders from Mugabe.

The "Gukurahundi" crackdown ended with the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 between ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU.

Mnangagwa has denied any role in the killings.

In March 1983, state-run Chronicle newspaper published a report about Mnangagwa defending the Fifth Army Brigade.

"Likening the dissidents to cockroaches and bugs, the minister said the bandit menace had reached such epidemic proportion that the Government had to bring in "DDT" (the 5th brigade) to get rid of the bandits," the report read.

Meanwhile, Christopher Mutsuvangwa, a senior Mnangagwa adviser, said bringing up the past was "simply unhelpful" and "irresponsible".

"Zimbabwe needs a break," he told Al Jazeera.

"To continuously re-dig its past, to settle scores from the past, as if it cannot grasp the future … It diverts energy away from what should be done.

"Every country followed a tortured history … You make mistakes. You make false starts."

Mnangagwa, speaking at his inauguration, said he wanted to help create jobs, reimburse farmers whose lands were seized and stamp out corruption.

He has also promised presidential elections next year.

Back in a village deep in the bush, Sibanda, the man from the Tsholotsho school, bowed his head in prayer before a stone plaque etched with the names of 23 people, mainly women, who were locked in a house and burned alive.

He asked for help and comfort.

His words, carrying the anger and pain of tens of thousands of people, shattered the stillness there.

- aljazeera

 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

There are no comments.

Latest stories

Chamisa to end Zezuru and Karanga fiefdoms

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 175 Views

Opposition must boycott Zimbabwe elections

by Gift Phiri | 18 June 2018 | 136 Views

'Primary elections increased intra-party violence'

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 115 Views

Chamisa's MDC challenges $286,000 lawsuit

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 128 Views

Tshinga Dube says he is wearing the right political jacket

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 142 Views

'Mugabe's planes' torment Joram Gumbo

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 141 Views

Khupe MDC-T to field 112 parly candidates

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 137 Views

Applications for Rhodes Scholarships open this year on truly global basis

by Rhodes House, Oxford | 18 June 2018 | 111 Views

Welshman Ncube fumes at Chamisa

by A Mhlongo | 18 June 2018 | 197 Views

I have not resigned: Gumbi breaks silence

by A Mhlongo | 18 June 2018 | 106 Views

'Vote Mnangagwa to conclude Mugabe coup'

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 165 Views

Chamisa threatens Alliance partners

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 182 Views

Zanu-PF warns Dinha 'pull out or face the music'

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 164 Views

Obert Mpofu fingers Grace in Mugabe ouster

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 166 Views

Zimbabwe launches 'HIV prevention' pill

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 164 Views

Mnangagwa commandeer his full motorcade to Chicken Inn

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 167 Views

Zimbabwe defers ARV drug roll-out

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 107 Views

Bankc card cloning on the increase, police warn public

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 128 Views

Chamisa in freak accident

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 145 Views

Chiyangwa donates

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 95 Views

Zanu-PF candidate launches 'Bhora Mugedhi' campaign

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 114 Views

'Mugabe neglected us'

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 127 Views

Mnangagwa warns Tongaat Hulett

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 123 Views

Zanu-PF Mat South eyes poll clean sweep

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 85 Views

Grandpa (80) goes missing from hospital

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 114 Views

Mnangagwa's Zanu-PF expels disloyal cadres

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 107 Views

Mugabe coup was a matter of life and death, says Obert Mpofu

by Staff rpeorter | 18 June 2018 | 82 Views

Andy Muridzo to release Ndebele songs

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 101 Views

Poultry import permits remain frozen - Shiri

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 58 Views

Dog meat peddlers resurface in Bulawayo

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 62 Views

Woman dumps baby to live with lover

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 74 Views

Mixed views on Schweppes sweeteners

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 97 Views

MDC-T records more cases of electoral violence than Zanu PF

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 132 Views

Gweru faces fire tender shortages

by Staff reporter | 18 June 2018 | 47 Views