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Activists to replace vandalised Bhalagwe Gukurahundi plaque

By Musa Makina

Bulawayo based pressure group Ibhetshu Likazulu has said it will forge ahead with plans to erect a Gukurahundi memorial plaque at Bhalagwe mass grave site in Kezi, Matabeleland South province.

This comes after a plaque they installed in 2019 at the torture site was destroyed by suspected security agents.

Bhalagwe is the Gukurahundi flash point where thousands were reportedly thrown into the disused Antelope Mine at the height of the massacres.

The site was also a concentration camp for the notorious North Korean trained Fifth Brigade operations in that area.

Just a short distance from the mine, there is a fenced graveyard where there are two mass graves for Gukurahundi victims.

Speaking to CITE, Ibhetshu Likazulu secretary general Mbuso Fuzwayo said nothing was going to stop them from fulfilling their plans despite clear résistance from the State.

“We are working on getting another replacement. The good thing now is that we are no longer alone in this battle, because we have full support from communities. We have been visiting communities several times for consultations on what exactly they want done,” Fuzwayo said.

He added: “We are doing it in a victim centres way, not the elitist approach which we saw happening at State House.”

Fuzwayo said their plan was to install the plaque in early November.

He further noted that there was no going back in their advocacy for recognition of the victims who lie buried at the mass grave which the Matobo Rural District secretly named the Matobo District Heroes Acre much to the chagrin of local villagers, activists and Gwanda Chief Mathema.

Government has fought running battles with activists who have been trying to have the grave site recognised as a Gukurahundi monument.

Names of victims were originally inscribed on the mass graves but were later removed by former President Robert Mugabe regime in what observers viewed as a clear attempt to conceal evidence.

Ibhetshu Likazulu has for the past two years been running a Gukurahundi victims programme under the theme Dispossessed in Life and Dishonoured in Death: Bhalagwe Victims Remembered.

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