Chief Siphoso of Tsholotsho has urged the Government to take responsibility for the surviving family members of the 22 villagers from Emkhonyeni who were burnt to death during the Gukurahundi atrocities.
This came out during a memorial service held by Ibhetshu Likazulu of the 21 women and one man who were locked in a hut and burnt by the Fifth Brigade on March 16, 1983.
The event was attended by six traditional chiefs from different parts of Matabeleland.
Speaking during the memorial service Chief Siphoso said the issue of Gukurahundi has to be resolved.
“We have met the President and engaged him that the issue of Gukurahundi has to be resolved. I will not speak for you but you are the ones who have to drive this agenda, my role is to encourage you to think about what you want,” said Chief Siphoso.
He said Gukurahundi led to the underdevelopment of the area.
“I am not saying it will be over, but it is the responsibility of the Government so that this area can develop as you can see this area is underdeveloped due to Gukurahundi and the fear, some people are still scared.
“I am ready to stand with you through thick and thin, let us work together and unite, when we are not united, we give the enemy an opportunity to destroy us further,” said Chief Siphoso.
The traditional leader also added that the memorial service was an opportunity for the community to properly grieve their loved ones.
He said they also want the memorial service to be a annual event.
“Our community was detached due to Gukurahundi, there are now few people left in this area but those who are here are dedicated to preserving these graves,” said Chief Siphoso.
He added that there were plans to turn the mass grave into a museum to preserve the history of the community.
“The elders of this area want to turn this site into a museum. We want those passing by in this area to know our history even though it is not a good history. We want to preserve it. We are going to acquire death certificates for them and their proper names are going to be written in this museum. This is our first step,” said Chief Siphoso.
In addition, Chief Gambu said the memorial service marked the beginning of many events to remember Gukurahundi victims.
“Today’s event marks the beginning of more programs to come, it is the beginning to actually start to talk about Gukurahundi,” said Chief Gambu.
“There is nothing that can just end without being resolved, we have to sit down and find resolutions so that people can heal.”
Chief Dakamela of Nkayi said it is important for chiefs to support each other as Gukurahundi affected most parts of Matabeleland.