Gukurahundi: Victim still suffering from STI 30 years on after rape by soldiers

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By Tonderai Saharo

A woman from the Matebeleland is still suffering from a sexually transmitted illness contracted when she was raped by government forces during the Gukurahundi atrocities, a National Peace and Reconciliation Commissioner (NPRC), has revealed.

The NPRC’s, Netty Musanhu said this while tabling the Commission’s NPRC’s five-year strategic plan to stakeholders in Masvingo last week as part of its efforts towards resolving the country’s darkest post-independence period.

Musanhu said the NPRC was adopting a bottom-up approach in dealing with the country’s past violence and communities will be key in driving the agenda of the reconciliation process.

“Talking of Gukurahundi, we all know what happened. We were in Lupane recently and there is a victim of this massacre who narrated how she was raped by a group of soldiers. She told us that she still carries an STI that she contracted when she was raped back then,” the Commissioner said.

Gukurahundi is the name given to the brutal military crackdown which targeted then opposition leader Joshua Nkomo’s supporters in the western regions of the country.

Then Prime Minister and later President Robert Mugabe unleashed a North Korean trained crack army unit known as the 5th Brigade under the guise of hunting down a handful of dissidents.

The result was a massacre in which at least 20 000 civilians lost their lives.

While Mugabe refused to discuss the Gukurahundi issue only referring to it as a “moment of madness” at Nkomo’s burial in 1999, his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa has opened up debate and allowed for reburials of the victims.

Musanhu said the NPRC will also provide psycho-social support to survivors.

“This is how our past is conflicted and as a Commission, we shall facilitate the provision of psycho-social support to such victims who are still burdened by the past events for the country to heal. Victims will be at the centre of the Commission’s activities. It is the voice of the victims which will drive the work of the Commission.

“They will be prepared for the hearings and their protection after participating is guaranteed,” Musanhu said.

The NPRC, according to Musanhu, has come up with four conflict areas, beginning with the pre-independence, post-independence and electoral violence which marred the country at the turn of the millennium and continues to this day.

NPRC chairman, Justice Selo Nare said his Commission will by next month set up thematic committees from district to national level that will conduct hearings across the country in an effort to bring peace and harmony among the citizens.