Police block Gukurahundi demo

BULAWAYO - Police here yesterday foiled a march by survivors and victims of the Gukurahundi atrocities.

The march was set to begin at the Large City Hall Car Park and end at the Bulawayo High Court where a petition was meant to be delivered as part of a push to set up a special commission to address the post-independence mass killings.

However, this was not to be as the alert law enforcers both riot police and plain clothed, besieged the City Hall car park, making the place inaccessible for the marchers.

Fearing brutal attacks that have been synonymous with such gatherings, the organisers went as far as using cell phones to alert fellow members that their mission was now impossible.

Speaking to the Daily News, one of the organisers, Charles Thomas said the move was a clear sign that there was no political will to address the thorny Gukurahundi issue.

“We wanted to hold a peaceful march to the High Court to petition the judiciary to set up an inquest into the Matabeleland massacres,” Thomas said.

“But we were greeted by a heavy police presence, and then you wonder what kind of a government we have that fears its own people that it purports to lead; which fears people who are aggrieved, people who are defenceless, who do not want war but just closure,” he said.

In 2011, Thomas was once charged with treason alongside John Gazi and Paul Siwela after they were arrested and charged with treason for allegedly distributing fliers in the city calling on Zimbabweans to revolt against government.

While Gazi and Thomas were later acquitted, Siwela skipped the border into self-exile after he claimed there was an attempt on his life.

Bulawayo police spokesperson chief inspector Precious Simango was not reachable for comment.

The petition gleaned by this paper said: “We submit this petition for inquest into Gukurahundi genocide. As survivors of this genocide, we demand justice for families of survivors and victims.

“…We also request compensation for us before we take this issue to international bodies.”

The petition comes at a time outspoken Filabusi chief Vezi Maduna recently wrote a letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa appealing for the redress of the post-
independence atrocities. However, after failing to get any feedback, Maduna took the matter up with the United Nations.

“We write requesting an independent commission of inquiry be set up to investigate atrocities which occurred in Matabeleland and Midlands in Zimbabwe, Africa, between 1981 and 1987 immediately after the country gained independence from Britain (sic),” wrote Chief Maduna in a letter dated November 13, 2018, addressed to UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.

The atrocities escalated into genocide occasioned by ethnic cleansing agenda targeting the Ndebele people in the Western and central parts of the country.

 

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