A Bulawayo based pressure group, Ibhetshu Likazulu is appealing for financial assistance to replace the two Gukurahundi memorial plaques that were stolen in Bhalagwe, Matabeleland and Silobela, Midlands by suspected state agents.
Ibhetshu Likazulu has been holding memorial services in memory of the victims of the 1980s massacres.
Former President Robert Mugabe unleashed a North Korean-trained military unit to crack against alleged dissent to his rule in Matabeleland and Midlands, resulting in the murder of over 20 000 people, according to a report compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and Legal Resources Foundation.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu recently 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 was erected to replace a tombstone that was erected at the same site in 2019 before it was destroyed by suspected security agents.
A day after the plaque was erected, Ibhetshu Likazulu received news that the plaque was stolen.
The same incident happened in Silobela, Midlands over the weekend, where another plaque was stolen before the memorial event on Sunday.
In an interview with CITE, Ibhetshu Likazulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said the appeal is a response to a citizen call.
“At the present moment those are the people who have shown interest that citizens can actively fundraise, we responded to the call from the citizens both locally and outside the country,” said Fuzwayo.
He said the group is looking for, “roughly over US$1000 considering the plaque and the material needed.”
Fuzwayo added that they have been receiving different proposals on how to ensure that the plaques cannot be tampered with.
Meanwhile, a human rights defender, Effie Ncube said Gukurahundi memorial plaques are important as they act as a focal point for people to mourn their dead in order for healing to take place.
“Without them, people can easily forget what happened, how it happened, who did what and so many other things. In such a society, similar offences can easily be committed,” said Ncube.
He said memorial plaques also act as a platform to remind people that they must fight for the rule of law for the protection of human rights and fight against impunity which led to the commission of crimes against humanity.
“Memorialization takes place in various forms but the memorial plaques are a critical component of those for transitional justice measures, there is no lasting healing, no lasting reconciliation and no lasting peace that can be achieved when people are being prevented from mourning their dead, from remembering their dead and from talking about what happened during the Gukurahundi genocide.”
He added that it is important that victims and survivors and well-wishers everywhere do support Ibhetshu Likazulu to ensure that these memorials are not only replaced but expanded and multiplied throughout all areas where Gukurahundi was committed.
“This will be important as an act of defiance against injustices but also as a way of remembering those who perished and those who disappeared during the genocide. It extremely important that we support this initiative, it is a critical initiative in the transitional justice measures that are being taken in respect of the Gukurahundiu genocide,” said Ncube.
“Also, what is important about them is the fact that worldwide, where they have been erected, they act as reminders time and again of what took place and reminders again and again to society that it needs to take institutional, constitutional, legal, political, economic and other measures to redress what took place and to ensure that those crimes are never committed again, so the memorial plaques are very important in this case.”
Those who are willing to assist Ibhetshu Likazulu can send their contribution via Eco-cash number 0772 744 209 registered under Melusi Moyo.