By Judith Sibanda
Lupane, March 22, 2016 – SOME villagers in Matabeleland North are preparing to rebury victims of the army massacres as their remains continue to be discovered in shallow graves especially during the rainy season.
This comes after dogs within villages in the area are said to be picking and bringing bones of the deceased to homes in the process, bringing back memories of their slain loved ones.
According to the secessionist Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP), villagers in Lupane also want to build a memorial for the estimated 20 000 people who died when then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe deployed the army in Matabeleland and Midlands soon after independence in 1980s.
MRP’s Lupane district organising secretary, Hloniphani Ncube said the party visited different Lupane villages on Friday at the invitation of villagers, who showed them human remains discovered at a mass grave in Lupanda.
“MRP’s officials visited Lupane’s Mafa and Lupanda village and this is what they got,” he said.
“Though Gukurahundi took place in the 1980s, even today it is still fresh to the people as they continue to discover remains of relatives who disappeared during those years.”
Ncube said Mafa and Lupanda villagers were still being affected by the genocide because of the frequent discovery of human remains in villagers.
“As a party we feel Gukurahundi cannot be used as a campaign tool by any of the Zimbabwe parties, in fact as a party we must fulfil the vision of those who were killed,” he said.
“Lupane was the most negatively affected place and up to today, some bones of the victims are seen lying idle because of the way they were buried.”
Ncube said the purpose of the visit was to assess the work that needed to be done in that area and to ask for views and guidance from the local communities.
“We finally agreed that if we combine all our resources these graves will be soon turned into monuments and we have a proper register of those who were killed during that brutal time. We want to make sure that justice is done to our people who lost their lives for being Ndebele,” he added.
“We also want the Gukurahundi genocide to be included in the school curriculum and people must be able to speak freely about it just like they do with the Chimurenga.”
Headman Sikhonzi Nyathi of Mafa Forester Village under Chief Mabhikwa told RadioVOP that the remains of Gukurahundi victims had not been accorded proper burial.
“The first to be gunned down were forestry workers,”said Nyathi.
“They were shot for no reason. After that we were told to bury them in shallow graves that is why their remains are seen lying idle everywhere.
“At schools, most students report that they come across human bones in the backyards especially when it rains and we feel that is a torture to the children, considering that many were their relatives.
“The move by MRP is supported as it will preserve the history of these innocent souls and in the end have a peaceful rest.”
The villagers said wild animals and dogs always dug up remains of the victims, with some ending up at their homesteads.
“The atmosphere will be tense in every place they were buried.
“The dogs bring bones of the deceased into our homesteads and that is terrifying on its own.
“They will be hungry, as you know the drought situation but that haunts us at the end of the day,” said Martha Mdlongwa, a survivor.
The Gukurahundi atrocities started when President Mugabe deployed the Fifth Brigade soon after independence.
Lupane was one of the most affected districts in Matabeleland North. Mugabe has not apologised for the atrocities, only describing the massacres as a moment of madness.