Bhalagwe Gukurahundi plaque ‘stolen’

A Gukurahundi memorial plaque erected, Sunday, at Bhalagwe in Maphisa, Matabeleland South, in memory of the victims of the 1980s massacres has reportedly been stolen.

Ibhetshu Likazulu, a local pressure group held a memorial service at Bhalagwe which bore the brunt of the Fifth Brigade operations as thousands were killed and buried in mass graves.

During the memorial service a plaque in memory of the Gukurahundi victims was erected to replace a tombstone which was erected at the same site in 2019 before it was destroyed by suspected security agents.

Activists stand at the site of the Bhalagwe Gukurahundi plaque which was destroyed by suspected security state agents

As has become the norm, the police blocked roads leading to the camp and detained traditional chiefs and other guests for hours before they were given the go-ahead to proceed with the event while observing Covid-19 regulations. 

Speaking to CITE, Ibhetshu Likazulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said he received information on Monday morning that the plaque was missing. 

“I just received the information that the Gukurahundi memorial plaque that we installed yesterday has been stolen,” said Fuzwayo. 

 Fuzwayo said the plaque had cost them US$300 excluding transportation and other necessities. 

He added that they will find other means to install another plaque at the site. 

Speaking yesterday at the Bhalagwe turn off after they were detained by the police, Fuzwayo, said the police tactics were in defiance of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s proclamation that Gukurahundi should be discussed openly.

“It’s either the police are defying the President or the President misled the nation but the truth of the matter is we want to go and replace the plaque that they stole because I strongly believe that the state was behind the removal of that plaque that we had erected in 2018,” he said. 

“We reported it to the officers and they did nothing but what they are good at is always trying to ensure that people of Matabeleland do not remember the people who were killed by the government but honestly speaking the plaque will be erected and we will always remember the victims.

“The stopped us asking us whether we reported to the regulating officer but our position is clear we can’t ask anything from the regulating officer because the police are implicated in the commissioning of Gukurahundi, so we can’t ask them because they are an interested party,” said Fuzwayo. 

Effie Ncube also from Ibhetshu Likazulu said they cannot ask for permission to hold the ceremony from the Gukurahundi perpetrators. 

“We will continue to strongly mourn for our relatives and in defiance. We will continue to fight for justice, we will never give in to the perpetrator, we owe it to the victims, to those who died, to those who survived, the torture camps like the Bhalagwe and others. We won’t betray our being alive, they died and we survived not just to survive but so that we remain for fighting for the causes for which they died,” said Ncube.

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