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    Friday, 3 May 2019

    Mat South gets assurances on Gukurahundi

    Commissioner Netty Musanhu.
    SIPHATHISIWE MATHAMBO

    GWANDA –
    People from Gwanda and Mat South  have been told to freely give evidence during hearings on the Gukurahundi era as their security and safety is assured before and after the hearings.
    The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) gave this assurance during a meeting at Gwanda District Club on Thursday last week.
    NPRC Commissioner, Netty Musanhu was presenting the organisation's five year strategic plan which runs from 2019 to 2013.  The stratergic plan prioritises hearings for the Gukurahundi  massarces that took place in Matebeleland and parts of Midlands Province in the early 1980s. She said that there has been a strong warning against intimidation of any kind and therefore people must be free to give evidence.
    "One of the priority issues in the 2019 strategic plan is hearings on Gukurahundi. ln 2019 you will find the commission starting hearings on issues of Gukurahundi in Matebeleland and parts of Midlands. We are not saying issues in other provinces are not important but this prioritisation came out of stakeholder consultations," said Com Musandu.
    The first concern raised by the stakeholders was the fear of victimisation and intimidation of those who want to give evidence on Gukurahundi. Stakeholders said many people were not going to give evidence for fear of victimisation.
    "Fear was instilled in people during Gukurahundi and that fear is still there. l foresee people bottling the truth for fear that there will be another genocide after the hearing. Remember these people are still psychologically tormented and there is need to first remove that fear and make sure the victims are prepared to testify.
    “lf you go there with new faces only you are bound to get nothing in terms of evidence. I suggest you include local pastors whom they trust," said Melusi Dube who is a local pastor.
    The stakeholders also asked the Commission to release the Chihambakwe and Dumbutshena reports first before going to Gukurahundi hearings. The Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe reports are Gukurahundi inquiry reports containing findings of the two commissions of inquiry that were set up to investigate the massacres of over 20 000 people in Matebeleland and Midlands between 1981- 1987.
    NPRC chairperson Retired Justice Selo Masole Nare said an application was made to the Minister for the release of the reports and the Commission is waiting for a response.
    The stakeholders suggested that the hearings be done in groups that separated women, men and youth from each other. They said women, particularly those who were gang- raped would be embarrassed to testify.
    The stakeholders proposed that the Gukurahundi massacres be included in school curriculum.
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