MATOBO — Relatives of Mvulo Nyathi, a Matobo villager allegedly killed during the Gukurahundi era, yesterday claimed police had blocked them from exhuming his remains lying in a cave for reburial.
The Nyathi family said last Friday they gathered at their homestead in the Silozwi area and conducted traditional rites, but were dispersed by officers from Matobo Police Station on Sunday as they were about to exhume the remains.
According to the family, Mvulo was repeatedly beaten up by members of the 5th Brigade at the height of the Gukurahundi disturbances in 1984 until he died.
His body was allegedly dumped in a sacred cave behind Silozwi Secondary School and his skeletal remains had remained unburied.
The cave, located on top of a hill, is just less than 2km from the family’s homestead.
The family claimed police ordered them to seek clearance from the acting provincial administrator Millard Khumalo before they could exhume their relative’s remains.
Contacted for comment, Khumalo said he was not aware of the developments.
“The DA (district administrator) has not mentioned this to me. Be that as it may, there is a way of conducting reburials. One should apply and so forth,” he said.
Matabeleland South acting police spokesperson Sergeant Loveness Mangena said she was still to verify the claims.
However, local headman Mika Sibanda confirmed the development, saying “the police action surprised us all”.
Matobo is one of the areas that was worst affected by the Gukurahundi massacres.
The Silozwi area is in Matobo district where over 5 000 people were allegedly slain or thrown into a disused mineshaft at Bhalagwe.
The Nyathi family said they were stopped after they had made all the preparations including buying a coffin and traditional rites in preparation for the ceremony.
Emma Nyathi, an aunt of the late Mvulo, told NewsDay police stormed their home and ordered them to fill up the grave they had dug for the
Nyathi said when they told the police that the local traditional leader Chief Masuku had cleared them, police insisted that they seek clearance from the district and provincial administrators.
“We are in deep pain and disbelief with the actions of the police,” Nyathi said. “All that we wanted was to seek closure by conducting a proper reburial for Mvulo and nothing else.
“The amount of money we lost is incomparable to the pain and anger against the police who are tormenting us and Mvulo’s spirit.
“Police said we should wait for the provincial administrator’s authority. We suffered during Gukurahundi and what the police did has actually reopened the wounds. We are hurt, very hurt. Mvulo’s spirit is angry.”
Another relative, George Ncube, added: “We just wanted him to rest in peace at the homestead. He is not resting in peace where he was dumped after he was killed by soldiers.
“All that we are saying is that we want to bury one of our own at our homestead to appease his spirit.”