Entumbane women break down during Gukurahundi narration

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

SOME women from Entumbane high density suburb in Bulawayo reportedly wept uncontrollably while narrating their horrendous Gukurahundi experiences to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) on Tuesday.

Sources who attended the all –female meeting which was closed to media said the women told the Commission that women in the suburb were the most affected by the pre-independence violence which started during the 1981 Entumbane uprising, also known as the Battle of Bulawayo.

On 11 February 1981, a fierce fight broke between Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) and Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) guerrillas in the area, as authorities worked to integrate the former fighters into the regular army.

The two liberation armies had their different camps located in the same suburb as part of the demobilisation exercise after the liberation war.

Several civilians were caught up in the cross fire during the violence.

The ZIPRA and ZANLA clashes precipitated government‘s deployment of the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade leading to the massacre of an estimated 20 000 civilians after some of the former fighter had reported turned rogue and started dissident activities.

“The meeting was very emotional. Some women told scary stories on how they were sexually violated during both Gukurahundi and the Entumbane battle. Some victims also told the Commission how they managed to walk long distances during the night fleeing the fighting forces,” said a source who attended the meeting which was held at Entumbane Community Hall.

Another source who attended the meeting said one woman narrated how her husband was tortured and killed by the soldiers.

“The story of this woman touched everybody. She narrated how her husband was abducted and disappeared. The woman told the commission that she was living in object poverty because nobody was looking after her,” said the source.

NPRC has embarked on a programme for women only to afford them an opportunity to share openly their experiences in a friendly environment.

Under the programme the Commission has been to Tsholotsho and Maphisa in Matabeleland North.
The commission has also visited Bhalagwe detention camp, another epicentre of the gruesome atrocities.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa unlike his predecessor Robert Mugabe has agreed to open discussions around the emotive issue as well as reburials of those lying in shallow graves.