BY SILAS NKALA
BULAWAYO-BASED pressure group — Ibhetshu LikaZulu on Sunday conducted a memorial service for 22 Gukurahundi victims, who include 21 women and a man who were burnt to death by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade soldiers in Tsholotsho in 1983.
The memorial was held at Emkhonyeni, in Chief Siphoso’s area, where the victims met their fate on March 16, 1983. Witnesses said the victims were burnt after being locked in a hut at the height of the Gukurahundi massacres that left more than 20 000 people dead in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions.
Ibhetshu likaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said the perpetrators targeted innocent villagers suspected to be harbouring ex-Zipra dissidents
“They were taken to a point where they met the Fifth Brigade soldiers and were accused of harbouring dissidents. So it was only women who were left in the area after men had already been taken away.
“Twenty-one women were commandeered to a hut which was set alight. A young man that they came across was asked to pull bodies out of the rubble and he was later shot and burnt too. One woman escaped and ran for dear life,” recounted Fuzwayo.
“The witnesses and survivors were kids that were left with no parents and the Fifth Brigade instructed them to go and look for relatives at that time. It was an emotional event, but the people had never mourned their lost ones, they want justice and answers as to why their innocent parents were killed,” he said.
The memorial service, which was very emotional, was graced by chiefs drawn from Matabeleland North, who included Dakamela, Tategulu, Siphoso, Gampu, Mathema and Tsholotsho villagers. Chief Siphoso, who was guest of honour, unveiled a plaque inscribed with the names of the victims during the event.
He urged the people to tell him what they wanted done to find closure for the Gukurahundi massacre victims.
“You must not relax, on March 16 next year you must conduct the memorial of these people so that the Gukurahundi issues are addressed. As a chief, I cannot address this without your input. I want to challenge you to open up and tell me whatever you want about these issues so that we see what we can do because what is needed is justice,” Chief Siphoso said.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has pledged to bring closure to the matter, although accused of being complicity.
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