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Gukurahundi tombstone vandalised

by Staff reporter
14 Oct 2018 at 10:03hrs | Views
A tombstone of the unknown soldier erected by the government at Bhalagwe in Maphisa, Matabeleland South, was destroyed by yet-to-be-identified people.

Bhalagwe in Matobo district, described as a concentration camp during the Gukurahundi massacres, has mass graves of victims of the government's military operation.

Government has turned the area into a district Heroes' Acre, but the move has been criticised by some civic groups who see the move as an attempt to tamper with the evidence of mass graves.

Civic groups argue government must look for alternative land for a district Heroes' Acre and leave Bhalagwe, as a Gukurahundi memorial site.

Ahead of this year's Heroes Day, a tombstone of the unknown soldier was built at Bhalagwe, but The Standard heard it has since been destroyed.

"We have been to the area and we gather that it was destroyed last week. It is, however, not surprising (to destroy the tombstone) as even villagers in the area protested the decision to turn Bhalagwe into a district Heroes' Acre," said Mbuso Fuzwayo, the co-ordinator of the Ibhetshu LikaZulu pressure group that has been on the forefront demanding that government addresses the emotive Gukurahundi issue.

Chief Malaba of Maphisa also confirmed the destruction of the tombstone saying "there are criminal elements who are tampering with those graves. We do not know who those thugs are. That must come to a stop."

Fuzwayo added: "We have a feeling that it was destroyed by people not happy with Bhalagwe being turned into a district Heroes' Acre. The feeling is that that tombstone must not have been erected in the first place in a place well known to have Gukurahundi mass graves.

"This must also have been in retaliation against the recent removal of the ‘mass graves' inscription on some of the graves recently by yet-to-be-known people in a bid to tamper with the graves."

Recently, a recent visit by civic groups and Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) revealed that some mass graves had been tampered with by removing the "Mass Graves" inscription. The move was widely condemned.

Government once initiated a probe into the massacres but the findings of the investigation were never made public.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said he is prepared to apologise if recommended by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).

Human rights groups, however, argue if Mnangagwa is sincere he must ensure the release of the Chihambakwe commission of inquiry report containing findings of a probe into the Gukurahundi massacres.

Source - the standard

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