Almost two decades after the atrocities that gripped the Matabeleland and parts of Midlands regions, residents are still scared to publicly discuss the Gukurahundi massacres.
When NewsDay moved around the streets of Bulawayo to solicit the public’s reaction to a Human Rights NGO Forum outreach report on transitional justice which called for a public apology from President Robert Mugabe, most people simply refused to comment.
Those that spoke on the issue preferred to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation.
Residents said they feared a backlash from authorities if they had their views published in the newspaper together with their real identities.
Others expressed fear that bringing the issue into the public domain might trigger more problems.
A 54-year-old security company manager who spoke on condition of anonymity said the issue was sensitive and that it was best to just “let sleeping dogs lie”.
“I do not believe that an apology is necessary and will change anything. In any case, it could just ignite another bonfire, which will also take us over 10 years to get over with. What happened cannot be changed, we want to move forward. Therefore, I believe it is best that we just let sleeping dogs lie,” he said.
Human rights organisations have constantly pointed out that the massacres that took place during that era can never be justified.
Representatives of local pressure groups and human rights activists said it was too late for President Mugabe to make a public apology for the Gukurahundi atrocities as this would not bring back their relatives killed during the period.