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Gukurahundi memorial plaque stolen at Bhalagwe soon after ceremony

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |

A Gukurahundi memorial plaque, erected by pressure group Ibhetshu LikaZulu on Sunday at Bhalagwe in Kezi, in memory of thousands of civilians who were massacred by the notorious Fifth Brigade army unit in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces has now been stolen.

A Gukurahundi memorial plaque that was put up at Bhalagwe in Kezi on Tuesday by the group Ibhetshu LikaZulu has been stolen.
A Gukurahundi memorial plaque that was put up at Bhalagwe in Kezi on Sunday by the group Ibhetshu LikaZulu has been stolen.

According to Ibhetshu LikaZulu; “The Bhalagwe plaque has been stolen again. We hold the state responsible. Justice for Gukurahundi victims will come, we are not surrendering.”

After erecting the memorial plaque on Sunday, Ibhetshu LikaZulu on Tuesday held a memorial service at Bhalagwe in Maphisa Matabeleland South. Many innocent civilians were killed and buried at the detention centre in the 1980’s.

According to reports another plaque installed in September 2019 at the same site was removed during the night by security agents and has never been seen again. Ibhetshu LikaZulu says “the government of Zimbabwe is responsible for these heinous activities” and “we cry for justice.”

The Gukurahundi was led by late former Lands Minister Perrance Shiri who was also known as ‘Black Jesus’, during the Genocide. He was the Commander of the notorious Fifth Brigade, which massacred innocent civilians in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the eighties.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was State Security minister at the time of the killings.

Between 1983 and 1987 the Fifth Brigade brutally crushed any resistance in Matabeleland and many atrocities were committed. An estimated 20,000 civilians died and were buried in mass graves and to this day the issue has not been addressed.

The intensity of their actions during the mid-1980s is associated with a specific Shona word: Gukurahundi. This is most simply translated as “the rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains.”

Opposition MDC Alliance Treasurer General David Coltart urged the police to urgently investigate the issue.

“I’ve just been advised that the memorial plaque which was unveiled at Bhalagwe yesterday by two chiefs has been stolen and the memorial vandalized. This will only heighten tensions in Matabeleland. The police must urgently investigate & prosecute those responsible,” he said.

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