The co-minister in the Organ of National Healing, Reconciliation and integration, Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, has said the saga involving a family in Matobo barred from reburying its relative killed during government massacres in Matabeleland and Midlands “underlined the painful truth of the absence of justice around Gukurahundi”.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) estimated that the government trained Fifth Brigade killed about 20 000 people in Matabeleland and Midlands in an operation code named “Gukurahundi”.
Last week, relatives of Mvulo Nyathi, a Matobo villager reportedly killed during the operation, claimed police had blocked them from exhuming his remains lying in a cave in the area for reburial.
The Nyathi family said two weeks ago, they gathered at their homestead in the Silozwi area and conducted traditional rites, but were dispersed by officers from Matobo Police Station as they were about to exhume the remains.
According to the family, Mvulo was repeatedly beaten up by members of the Fifth Brigade at the height of the Gukurahundi disturbances in 1984 until he died and his body was dumped in a cave behind Silozwi Secondary School.
In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, Mzila-Ndlovu said the Nyathi family was one of thousands in Matabeleland and Midlands who knew where the bones of their slain relatives were, but could not bury them.
“What that incident brings out is the painful truth around the absence of justice around the issue of Gukurahundi,” he said.
“It (Nyathi family) is only one out of thousands of families who know where the remains of their murdered relatives are, but the government has put a lid on the issue.
“To deprive a family that opportunity, a chance to bury their dead, reveals the callousness of the government, especially the party responsible for Gukurahundi.
“He was beaten up until he died and then you deny the family a chance to bury the remains. His bones are scattered everywhere, the skull, the fingers. This is painful.”
The minister added: “This is part of saying the Gukurahundi issue is water under the bridge. If you say so, then you are saying the pain must be forgotten. The family is simply saying let us deal with it, confront it once and for all.
“What I can guarantee you is that this person does not have a death certificate and there is a chance that his children have no birth certificates. We tried it in the new constitution to say that we should allow the documentation to take place in post-conflict situations. We hope Parliament will extend that and make a law that includes even the post-independence conflict.”