A BULAWAYO pressure group, Ibhetshu likaZulu, has announced plans to hold a memorial service for Gukurahundi massacres at Bhalagwe in Maphisa next weekend, despite cancellation of similar events by police since 2011.
BY SILAS NKALA
The group’s secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo yesterday said police in Matabeleland South province have been notified of the event and were yet to respond.
“Ibhetshu likaZulu will be at Bhalagwe, where we will have a memorial prayer, in memory of those who died during the Matabeleland genocide on October 21 at Maphisa, Bhalagwe,” he said.
“The theme of the ceremony is Dispossessed in Life and Dishonoured in Death: Bhalagwe Victims Remembered 2017. The police were notified, they haven’t yet responded.”
Fuzwayo said the programme will comprise a prayer, singing, sermons, solidarity messages from different organisations and testimonies from survivors.
Bhalagwe is a mass grave where hundreds if not thousands of people were reportedly killed or buried alive by the North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade soldiers during Gukurahundi.
At least 20 000 people from Midlands and Matabeleland regions were allegedly killed during the Gukurahundi era, as President Robert Mugabe cracked down on perceived former PF Zapu dissidents. The bulk of the victims were Ndebele-speaking civilians.
Mugabe has since described the massacres as a “moment of madness”, but declined to publicly apologise or compensate the victims.
The issue has remained a sore in the affected regions, with survivors demanding compensation and closure of the matter.
Several civil rights groups have pressured the government to acknowledge the atrocities, with the secessionist Mthwakazi Liberation Front lobbying for the Gukurahundi mourning day in July 2011.