Bulawayo High Court Judge Justice Martin Makonese yesterday reserved judgment in a matter in which Gukurahundi survivor and activist Charles Thomas, ZAPU and Ibhetshu LikaZulu are seeking an interdict to stop the government and Matabeleland Collective from conducting Gukurahundi exhumations and reburials.
The court application undrer Case No 1454/20 was filed two weeks ago at the Bulawayo High Court, by Thomas (first applicant), IbhetshuLikaZulu Trust (second applicant), Mbuso Fuzwayo (an activist) and ZAPU (fourth applicant).
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was cited as the first respondent while Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Kazembe Kazembe was the second respondent.
The other respondents Matabeleland Collective (third respondent), Jenni Williams (leader of the Matabeleland Collective), Chairman of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (Retired Judge Sello Nare) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).
Last week Thursday, Mnangagwa and Kazembe made their submissions and sought a postponement of the hearing so they could have time to go through the case.
The matter was finally heard yesterday where Mnangagwa and Kazembe’s lawyer, Rejoice Hove, from the Attorney General’s office argued that the High Court should not grant the interdict.
Hove claimed the government did not announce it was planning to conduct reburials of Gukurahundi victims.
“Thomas and the other litigants should have waited before the government embarked on the said reburials,” she said.
The applicants’ lawyer, Nqobani Sithole, said government’s plans to exhume and rebury the Gukurahundi victims was publicised in the media including a government owned newspaper.
“Gukurahundi is a sensitive issue which should be handled carefully using all channels provided for in the Constitution while exhumation of Gukurahundi victims without consulting various stakeholders is a violation of the Constitution particularly the Inquest Act,” Sithole said.
Justice Makonese asked Sithole if his clients had made any efforts to engage the NPRC about the issue before rushing to the court.
Sithole acknowledged that his client hastily approached the High Court because they were afraid the government would go ahead with the reburials without consulting anyone.
Williams, who was a self-actor, concurred with the respondents’ lawyer, that the case should be dismissed.
She argued that Matabeleland Collective is working with various stakeholders including chiefs in addressing the reburials.
The NPRC was represented by Maclean Mahaso.
Last month Mnangagwa held a meeting with the leadership of the Matabeleland Collective at the Bulawayo State House and pledged government’s commitment to exhume Gukurahundi victims and rebury them in a decent manner.