Victims Sad Chimonyo Died Without Facing Gukurahundi Massacres Justice

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By Staff Reporter

GUKURAHUNDI victims are concerned that perpetrators of the early 1980s human rights atrocities are dying without facing justice for the heinous crimes they committed during Zimbabwe’s darkest hour.

This follows the death early Thursday morning of Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Edzai Chimonyo after a long battle with cancer.

Senior opposition party officials and civil society activists said it was sad that genocide offenders were dying without answering for their wrongdoings.

During the Gukurahundi massacres, which claimed the lives of over 20 000 people in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, Chimonyo was the deputy commander of the Five Brigade holding the rank of brigadier.

The Five Brigade was a North Korean-trained became a killing machine which caused untold terror in the western parts of Zimbabwe leaving thousands of people, mostly the minority Ndebele tribe, dead during the state-sponsored extra-judicial killings.

Exiled former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo described the late Chimonyo as the “Butcher of Bhalagwe”.

“The curtain has fallen on the Butcher of Bhalagwe, ZNA’s Commander, Gen Edzai Chimonyo, aka Edzai Chanyuka; one of the most cruel Gukurahundi commanders who used to callously boast in public about the Five Brigade’s atrocities committed under his command in Matabeleland South!,” he said.

Moyo described the late Chimonyo as a “Gukurahundist” who infamously the killing by saying: “Some call us murderers, but our role is quite clear”.

Ibhetshu Likazulu Secretary-General, Mbuso Fuzwayo said it was unfortunate that Chimonyo had died without accounting for his crimes.

“It is unfortunate he is gone without accounting; he has gone with vital information to the nation and the world why they killed innocent women, raped school children. It’s sad that even the courts have failed to protect survivors of the genocide. If we are serious about peacebuilding, he does not deserve to be honoured as a hero for killing innocent citizens that he was supposed to defend,” he said.

“Death has robbed the nation by his death. He knows when, where and how they killed, raped, and buried others in unmarked graves others in disused mines. He must never rest peacefully.

“It’s sad cause all criminals will kill innocent people and cling to power abusing state weapons, they must have a day in court, death is not the answer, but the courts failed the nation.”

Zapu national spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa said it was regrettable that genocide perpetrators were cushioning themselves from justice through deaths.

“Matabeleland genocide perpetrators cushioned themselves from justice in two ways, through immunity derived from the state power they illegally gained in 2017 and by rushing to the graves in now more frequent numbers,” he said.

“In all this, the victims are denied justice as opportunities for resolution slip away every day. While we call every day for the delivery of justice pertaining the Gukurahundi genocide, (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa the chief implementor has always shown us the middle finger and went further to promote the commanders of Fifth Brigade right across the security sector.”

MDC Alliance Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Swithern Chiroodza said the loss of life, even if it was the life of a political opponent, is always regrettable.

However, he said the Gukurahundi was one of the most heinous crimes sponsored by the state.

“Gukurahundi is the code-name for the Fifth Brigade’s most heinous of state-sponsored violence by Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF government against unarmed and innocent citizens,” he said.

“The just departed army general was a commander of the Fifth Brigade. It is sad that those who stand accused as perpetrators like him are dying without facing justice or appearing before a truth-telling commission.”

Chimonyo was Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania until the 2017 coup that toppled long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, in which he is said to have played a prominent role.

He was promoted to replace General Philip Valerio Sibanda, who was elevated to Defence Forces commander following the departure of Constantino Chiwenga to become Zimbabwe’s Vice President.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was State Security Minister at the time of the massacres, has promised to address the atrocities.

However, he has refused to apologise for the extra-judicial killings.