A SOUTH African photographer and his Zimbabwean guide have been fined US$100 by a court in Esigodini, Matabeleland South, for taking pictures of a gravesite where 16 whites were massacred by alleged dissident ex-ZIPRA fighters in 1987.
David Andrew Joseph Bernard, 37, of Pipers Close, Kommietjie, Cape Town, and Zimbabwe-born Guide Ncube, 28, now resident in Johannesburg, admitted practising journalism without accreditation before Esigodini resident magistrate Lungile Ncube on February 13.
They were ordered to pay the fines or spend 90 days in jail.
Prosecutors have confirmed that police were called to Adams Farm in Esigodini on February 9 this month by the alleged mastermind of the massacre – Morgan Sango Nkomo aka Gayigusu.
Gayigusu, who was pardoned by President Robert Mugabe as part of a unity deal between ZAPU and ZANU 1987, now lives in Esigodini and is a senior Zanu PF official in the district.
Bernard and Ncube entered the country through the Beitbridge Border Post before proceeding to Adams Farm where they interviewed a farmer and took dozens of pictures of the site where eight of the 16 missionaries were brutally killed and buried.
The other eight were killed at Olive Tree Farm nearby.
Locals, prosecutors said, alerted Gayigusu who called the police, but the two men had left by the time investigators arrived.
Police finally tracked them down on February 11.
Esigodini, a small town about 50km south of Bulawayo, hit international headlines in November 1987 when a dispute between the missionaries and “squatters” over grazing land ended in bloody scenes.
The government had given the black settlers a deadline to leave the farms, but they enlisted the help of so-called dissidents – renegade elements of the former liberation movement ZIPRA – who carried out some of the most macabre mass killings in independent Zimbabwe.
Witnesses told how the Christian missionaries, hands tied behind their backs, were led, one by one, into a room where they were hacked to death with machetes by a group of close to 20 men whose leader was believed to have been Gayigusu, who eluded capture and never stood trial.
Among the dead were two Americans.