Third Gukurahundi plaque bombed

The third memorial plaque erected to honour victims of the Gukurahundi genocide at Bhalagwe in Maphisa, Matabeleland South was bombed by unknown perpetrators on January 4.

This latest incident comes after suspected state agents vandalised two plaques erected on separate occasions last year.


Remnants of what “looked like explosives” were seen on the site by people who went to the scene.

During the height of Gukurahundi, thousands were reportedly killed at Bhalagwe, where people were thrown into a disused Antelope Mine shaft.

The third plaque was erected last year in October during a memorial service that was attended by traditional leaders and the Maphisa community.


The memorial service was led by Ibhetshu LikaZulu, while the event was also part of the Asakhe Film Festival run by CITE under the theme “The Power of Memory” to contribute towards Zimbabwe’s national healing efforts.

Secretary General of Ibhetshu LikaZulu confirmed that the plaque was bombed on “January 4, 2021 around 9pm,” an act he described as terrorist.

“We are at the police station making a report and the case number is 4542320 RRB ,” he told CITE in an interview.

Ibhetshu LikaZulu Secretary General, Mbuso Fuzwayo (left) and Effie Ncube look at the plaque remnants.

Fuzwayo said it was disheartening how continuous efforts to honour victims who were “mercilessly” killed and comfort survivors and relatives were literally shot down.

He noted this destruction pointed to lack of sincerity in addressing Gukurahundi and showed the disrespect directed to communities who had come together to address matters of national healing.

“The notion of sincerity in addressing the genocide is not victim centred but they want to control the narrative. They go a step further to ridicule, which is for lack of a better word, efforts that people make to comfort themselves, efforts they make to try and move on, efforts they make to be at peace with their departed,” said Fuzwayo.

“In addition to the unsolved genocide, this is what people have to contend with, adding more pain. This is cruelty at its worse, reducing community’s efforts to rubble”

Seen here is one piece of the bombed plaque that was erected to honour Gukurahundi victims.

The destroyed plaque was worth US$2 000, whose funds were raised by Ibhetshu LikaZulu, communities and stakeholders who “were dedicated to honour the departed,” added Fuzwayo.

What remains of the plaque that was bombed. The piece is inscribed erected by the community with the assistance of Ibhetshu LikaZulu.

Bhalagwe site was also a concentration camp for the ‘notorious’ North Korean trained Fifth Brigade army who ran operations in that area.

Just a short distance from Antelope mine at Bhalagwe, there is a fenced graveyard where there are two mass graves for Gukurahundi victims.

Upon hearing the news of the destruction of the plaque, third time around, this time by explosives, one Gukurahundi survivor said: “The memory is not the plaque, it is in the mind. You cannot steal nor bomb the mind.”

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