Gukurahundi exhumations begin, one body set for reburial in Tsholotsho

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

THE exhumation and re- burial of victims of the post-independence atrocities commonly referred to as Gukurahundi has started following government’s decision to address the emotive issue.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently declared the issue needed to be discussed openly among citizens breaking away from an unwritten government policy under former President Robert Mugabe who literally made talk around the issue criminal.

The government has instructed the Ministry of Home Affairs to assist affected communities in the re-burying of the victims.

Following the government’s pronouncement, the remains of a Gukurahundi victim in Sipepa area in Tsholotsho was exhumed on Saturday.

A local civic organisation, Ukuthula Trust led the exhumation process which was also witnessed by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) commissioners.

“We were invited by Ukuthula Trust to witness the exhumation exercise in Sipepa, in Tsholotsho. Remains of one person were exhumed and they are set for reburial,” said NPRC chairperson Justice Nare.

Last month Mnangagwa met various civic society group from the western parts of the country in Bulawayo to open discussions around the issue.

In his independence message Mnangagwa called on Zimbabweans to openly discuss the issue in order to find lasting solutions to the emotive issue.

A few years after independence, Mugabe unleashed a North Korean trained army unit known as 5th Brigade under the guise of hunting down a handful of dissidents reportedly aligned to then opposition leader Joshua Nkomo.

The result was an orgy of violence at an unprecedented scale that left over 20 000 civilians dead in one of the darkest chapters in the country’s history.

Until he was forced out of power in 2017, Mugabe refused to take responsibility for the genocide only coming close by describing it as a “moment of madness” at Nkomo’s burial.

Nkomo was forced into capitulation in 1987 before his party Zapu was swallowed to form the current united Zanu PF party.

Nare said the NPRC will soon roll out its own process of exhumations.