THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) has angered human rights activists after saying it was in the dark as to when it would resume the much-awaited exhumation and reburial of Gukurahundi victims.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged to facilitate the exhumation and reburial of Gukurahundi victims as part of a cocktail of measures aimed at addressing the 1980s mass killings in the country.
Bulawayo-based Ukuthula Trust, an independent body of forensic archaeologists and forensic anthropologists, in May last year exhumed the bodies of Justin Tshuma and Thembi Ngwenya who were killed by the Fifth Brigade in March 1983 in Tsholotsho’s Enkwalini community.
The NPRC, among others, attended the event.
However, government was seen as backtracking on its pledge to facilitate more exhumations after top government officials said the process should be stayed until a law to guide the exercise was crafted.
NPRC commissioner Leslie Ncube when asked on what was stalling the exhumation and reburial of Gukurahundi victims who lie in unmarked graves, said: “It’s still quiet. We are having our first meeting next week where we are likely to discuss this and many other issues. For now, I cannot say when (exhumations resume).”
Ibhetshu LikaZulu co-ordinator Mbuso Fuzwayo was, however, not amused.
“It is becoming clear that government has developed cold feet since allowing the exhumations to happen will expose their lies that there was no genocide. Well, that is their own issue to deal with as victims want closure, and they cannot get closure without exhumations…” Fuzwayo said yesterday.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda told participants attending a capacity building workshop last year organised by the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs portfolio committee in Bulawayo that until the law to guide the process was crafted, all exhumations should be halted.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage deputy minister Mike Madiro last year said exhumations should be stayed until a policy on carrying out the process was crafted.
Government once initiated a probe into the Gukurahundi massacres, but the findings of the investigation by the Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry were never made public.
There have been calls for Mnangagwa to release the report in the spirit of promoting national healing and to commit himself to compensating the victims’ families and survivors.