Zim rights commission refers Gukurahundi victims for counselling

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has recommended counselling for some Gukurahundi victims who have struggled with their lives since the 1980s government holocaust that killed 20 000 in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, according to independent estimates.

Since the time, the victims in Matebeleland have found it difficult to access national identity documents and live decent lives.

Addressing journalists during the closure of Public Hearings on the National Inquiry on Access To Documentation in Bulawayo Friday, ZHRC chairperson Everisto Mugwadi said some of the victims of the atrocities who testified before the commission were traumatised with some breaking down while testifying.

“The main challenges people are facing in accessing national documents in Bulawayo include challenges related to the Gukurahundi disturbances evident in the deliberate withholding of vital information,” said Mugwadi.

The ZHRC chairperson said his commission has resolved to refer some of the victims for psycho-social support services.

“As a commission, we have resolved that we should be constantly getting in touch with the Gukurahundi victims.

“We have referred some of them to our sister commission, the National Peace and Reconciliation (NPRC) for counselling. Some of them were even afraid to tell their stories,” said Mugwadi.

He also cited the negative attitude of some staff at the Registrar General’s office as another challenge barring people from obtaining national documents.

“Negative attitudes and lack of customer care or human rights-based service delivery by staff at government departments such as RG’s office and department of social welfare which discourages people from accessing documents when they need them.

“So far, the commission has held public hearings in Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Mashonaland Central, Matabeleland South, Mashonaland East, Midlands and Manicaland.

Section 243 (1) of the Constitution mandates the ZHRC to research on issues relating to fundamental human rights, freedoms and social justice.