Fourth Gukurahundi plaque vandalised in Bhalagwe

A fourth effort has been made to demolish a memorial plaque placed to memorialise victims of the Gukurahundi genocide at Bhalagwe in Maphisa, Matabeleland South.

This plaque was erected last month on February 21 by Ibhetshu LikaZulu with members of the local community and traditional leaders.

Ibhetshu LikaZulu has described this fourth attempt as a “brazen, illegal and toxic” attempt to undermine their efforts to honour the dead and comfort the victims of Gukurahundi. Gukurahundi claimed over 20,000 lives in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, including incidents of rape, torture, forced disappearances, and the destruction of millions of dollars worth of property.

This latest destruction comes after suspected state agents used explosives to bomb a plaque in 2022 and vandalised two others erected on separate occasions in 2021.

In an interview with CITE, Mbuso Fuzwayo, Secretary General of Ibhetshu LikaZulu, said they responded to a distress call from traditional leaders and the community at Bhalagwe on Thursday.

“There was an attempt to remove the plaque which was erected on February 21, 2024. The vandals tried to remove it and destroyed some of the crosses that we had laid. We are unsure exactly when this happened, but we received the message yesterday and immediately went there to check,” he said.

“Undeterred by this vandalism, we call on the authorities to take action. It is saddening that this is the fourth plaque to be destroyed. We previously chose not to report the incidents as the authorities were not forthcoming.”

Fuzwayo lamented that previous reports to the authorities had not been productive.

“Sadly, this happens at a time when the government promises to address the issue of Gukurahundi, yet there are those who are destroying community programs meant to help people heal,” said the activist.

Last week, Ntabazinduna Chief, Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni, called out the hypocrisy of the Zanu PF government commissioning a monument at the Pupu Battle site in Lupane while refusing the people of Matabeleland to erect monuments to Gukurahundi victims.

Chief Ndiweni said it should be noted that the Ndebele people have tried four times “to erect monuments near mass graves resulting from the Ndebele genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.”

“On each of those occasions, the erected monuments were destroyed by the Zanu PF administration,” he said.

“On occasion even with the use of explosives. Now the same Zanu PF administration wishes the Ndebele people to celebrate a monument it has unilaterally chosen for them.”

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