Monday, 31 August 2020


Gukurahundi survivor Charles Thomas, Ibhetshu likaZulu and Zapu have filed a High Court chamber application seeking to bar President Emmerson Mnangagwa from conducting the exhumations of victims of Matabeleland massacres. 

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) estimates that over 20 000 people were killed during the disturbances in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces between 1983 and 1987. Most of the victims were buried in shallow graves.

The appeal came a week after Mnangagwa conducted a third meeting with civic society organisation (CSOs) under the Matabeleland Collective in Bulawayo where he committed to conduct exhumations and reburials of Gukurahundi victims. 

In an application filed on Saturday through Ncube Attorneys, Thomas, Ibhetshu likaZulu, its secretary Mbuso Fuzwayo, and Zapu, cited as applicants, said Mnangagwa had no locus standi to conduct the reburials without the consent of the relatives of the victims.

Mnangagwa, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, Matabeleland Collective’s Jennifer Williams, who leads the group, National Peace and Reconciliation (NPRC) chairman Selo Nare and NPRC are the respondents in the matter.

The applicants said Mnangagwa, who was the State Security minister at the time and made remarks that incited the killings, was an interested party and, therefore, was not suitable to lead the process of resolving the emotive issue.

“In this matter, there is certain illegal conduct or action of the first, third and fourth respondents sought to be interdicted on an urgent basis that they contravened a number of laws as follows: the Inquest Act Chapter 7:07 which regulates the issue of disinterment of people who have died violent deaths, the Births and Deaths Registration Act Chapter 5:02 which regulates the issue of giving a notice when a person dies and the associated process thereof, the Burial and Cremation Act Chapter 5:03, which regulates the burial and associated processes, section 111 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 which criminalises the violation of corpses,” the application reads.

Thomas said he was a survivor of Gukurahundi who was left unconscious probably presumed dead.

After he was taken to hospital by a Good Samaritan, Thomas said he was further tortured before being taken to Bhalagwe in Kezi where several villagers were killed and buried in mass graves, including his brother.

Thomas said based on his experience during the killings, he was a key survivor who could lead the process of what should be done rather than the respondents currently claiming to lead the process.

Last week, Matabeleland Forum, a consortium of CSOs in the region which pulled out of the Matabeleland Collective, said the government was not sincere in its engagement to resolve the Matabeleland and Midlands emotive issue.

Many CSOs pulled out of the Matabeleland Collective soon after the first meeting with the President, citing lack of genuineness on the part of Mnangagwa’s administration to address the Gukurahundi issue in a manner that appeases the victims.

They accused government of imposing conditions which did not provide for truth telling, confessions by the perpetrators, compensation of victims and prosecution of those responsible.

In a position paper on Monday, Matabeleland Forum said truth telling sessions should be conducted ahead of any compensation or assistance to the victims and or survivors of Gukurahundi.
The respondents are yet to respond to the application. Newsday


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