Families of Gukurahundi victims in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces are calling for the prosecution of perpetrators of the 1980s massacres and reburial of the victims’ remains.
To bolster their case, over 1 000 Zimbabwean exiles, mainly from Matabeleland and Midlands regions, on Saturday launched a body to spearhead the trial of perpetrators of the Gukurahundi massacres, exhumation and reburial of the victims’ remains.
However, Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, among other Zanu PF stalwarts, has dismissed the call, saying the Gukurahundi era had been closed since President Robert Mugabe indicated “it was a moment of madness”.
Gukurahundi Genocide Victims for Justice (GGV4J) was launched on Saturday at Hillbrow Recreation Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Speaking at the launch of GGV4J, the organisation’s chairperson Magugu Khumalo said the lobby would campaign for delivery of justice for the estimated 20 000 victims killed by government troops between 1983 and 1987 during the Gukurahundi era.
“In 1999 when (the late Vice-President) Joshua Nkomo died, the first time the President spoke about Gukurahundi, and the only time that he spoke about it, he said Gukurahundi was a moment of madness,” Khumalo said.
“Our question is whose madness was it? And now they are saying it is a closed chapter.
“How can Gukurahundi be a closed chapter when the blood of our dead relatives is still boiling, when the bones of our relatives are lying everywhere without proper burial?”
Khumalo GGV4J would campaign for the reburial of the victims and pursue litigation against the perpetrators of the genocide.
“We need to have those who died reburied; we need to bury our dear departed according to our own customs. We need to identify and engage with the survivors of Gukurahundi. There are a lot among us even here now. We are going to set up a platform where these survivors will come upfront and tell their stories to the whole world,” she said.
Khumalo added: “We will go back home and have exhumations of all mass graves. We will then engage forensic experts to examine these bones before reburial. We will then re-bury them according to our customs. We want reparations. A lot of people lost their livelihood, could not get identity documents, they lost their identity. All this has to be redressed.
We will encourage cleansing of both victims and perpetrators. There are people who did this (perpetrators) and are haunted and they need counselling.
“We need justice in the form of litigation. Gukurahundi is genocide and there is no genocide that goes unpunished. The Gukurahundi must never go unpunished. They can kill us, but they can never kill our willpower. We are burning to have the perpetrators taken to court.”