Political activists here have taken a swipe at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for tampering with Gukurahundi mass graves at Bhalagwe Shrine, in Kezi, Matabeleland South Province.
This comes after it emerged that government erased inscriptions on the mass graves leaving them blank in what political activists say is a move to conceal evidence of the deadly atrocities which left thousands dead, in post-independence civil disturbances.
After erasing the inscriptions, authorities replaced them with a commemoratory structure inscribed; “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” erected behind the two mass graves.
Bhalagwe is the Gukurahundi flash point where thousands of those killed were thrown into a disused mine. Initially, soon after the atrocities, names of victims were inscribed on the mass graves but were later removed by Mugabe regime, in what observers viewed as a clear attempt to conceal evidence.
As if that was not enough, the Gukurahundi graves were later mixed with those of local war heroes which saw the shrine being turned into a Matopo District Heroes Acre.
Mthwakazi Republic Party president Mqondisi Moyo who led an entourage of his party members on their usual visit to the site, on Monday said they were shocked to realise that the two mass graves had been tempered with. “The Gukurahundi mass graves in Bhalagwe revealed some shocking developments,” he said.
“The delegation which was accompanied by victims and international journalists was shocked to discover that the inscriptions on the graves that read ‘Mass Graves’ have been erased by plastering on them. The concealing plaster is still new, indicating that this horrible act was done recently,” Moyo said.
“The victims of Gukurahundi were evidently pained with this blatant act of tampering with the evidence of the genocide. Bhalagwe is not a heroes shrine; it is a genocide victims’ site.”
Ironically, Moyo said the names of the heroes of the struggle are visible, while those of the victims have been removed. He, however, said he was confident that the removal of the mass graves inscriptions and the erection of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were done during the Heroes’ Day holiday as they had visited the place a month before.
“We don’t need the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Bhalagwe, instead we need the Plaque of the Gukurahundi victims and the tomb of the unknown Gukurahundi victims who disappeared and are unaccounted for,” Moyo said.
In May, activists Ibhetshu Likazulu were twice blocked by the police as they were constructing a plaque of the Gukurahundi victims at the site. Moyo said the perpetrators of the genocide are surely on a mission and are not relenting in burying the truths on Gukurahundi. “We will fight this traverse of justice for the victims of Gukurahundi. We demand that those names must be returned as an act of remorse and solace to the families and relatives of the victims. Hands off our fathers and mothers and allow them to sleep in peace. They cannot be tormented while living and when dead,” he said.