Give Us Money, Not Treatment: Gukurahundi Survivors

During a recent healing and reconciliation prayer conducted by a Catholic priest Father Marko Mkandla in Lupane, the survivors broke their silence for the first time in more than 20 years and revealed the extent of their injuries.Some told horrifying tales of how they survived the massacres which still haunts the government.
Former Lupane Member of Parliament, Njabuliso Mnguni says he has been trying without much success to persuade the survivors with bullets lodged in their bodies to seek medical assistance.

“ Some donors and doctors are willing to assist with surgery to remove the bullets from the survivors but the villagers say they don’t want medical treatment but financial assistance.Some are now sick because of the injuries they sustained during the shootings, ” Mnguni told Radio Vop.

Mnguni said during his visit to Lupane villages to speak to the survivors, he discovered that many people were now willing to speak out about what happened and how they survived the mass killings of innocent people by the government,s notorious Five Brigade which President Robert Mugabe christened “ Gukurahundi. ”
The brigade, exclusively made up of former Zanla cadres from Tongogara Assembly Point executed its mission with ruthless efficiency and left a trail of blood and destruction.
Mnguni says in one village he met three women who witnessed 24 villagers burning to death after the soldiers rounded them up, put them in one hut and set it on fire.The three survivors were among the villagers put in the hut in Gwampa area but they managed to break free and fled.The soldiers kept on firing at them but they missed until they were in a safe area.

“ I met one old man we tried to help seek treatment for his injuries but the doctors advised that if the bullet was removed, he could die.Now everyone does not want to have the bullets removed while others say there is no reason to remove the bullets now when they have lived with them for more than 20 years, ” Mnguni told Radio Vop.

According to medical and forensic experts, survivors of firearm incidents can carry bullets in their bodies for long periods of time as souvenirs.If a bullet remains embedded in the body for a long time, it termed as a souvenir bullet.
Bullets can be lodged in bone or soft tissue in any firearm incident without causing any serious damage or may be located in an area where surgical removal could prove fatal. It is advisable to leave the bullet as such if it is too dangerous to manipulate or if it is lodged in an innocuous area without any potential risk or complication.
Foreign bodies such as bullets can remain silent for a long period of time without giving rise to clinical symptoms. It is important for the surgeon to consider removal of a foreign body/bullet only if there is a serious health hazard, keeping in mind the possibility of causing a pathologic fracture.

“ I think the government has to find a way to pay compensation to survivors and families of those who perished during the massacres, ” said Mnguni.President Mugabe described the massacres as “ a moment of madness by his government. ”But he has not publicly acknowledged the killings or pay compensation to survivors.

According to columnist Farai Chikowore,the collective communities in Zimbabwe have never come forward to condemn the original sin of Gukurahundi. The reasons of standing back and keeping quite are not justifiable in that silence, fear and moving on are open to interpretation. Zimbabweans communities have been silent on this issue for a long time and one should not blame the victims for assuming the meaning of the silence.
The idea of moving on has obviously been proven wrong the current developments but the idea also carries an element of misunderstanding and lack of practical rationality. Those who are not directly Gukurahundi victims indirectly understand the impact of this horrific crime. Having said that the idea of moving on is not only wrong but it is an insult to the victims. Moreover it raises the question whether one is on the side of the victims or the perpetrators.
The logic that Zimbabweans fear to talk about Gukurahundi demonstrates a lack of vision. The fear of talking about Gukurahundi is the most unjustified of all fears because we have already taken a stand against oppression. If Zimbabweans fought the liberation struggle to free people from oppression then they should condemn Gukurahundi publicly because genocide is a violent form of oppression. What’s more is that its impact will affect the younger, future generations and generations of generations if it’s not dealt with.

-Thabo Kunene