GUKURAHUNDI IN ZIMBABWE PDF

It began with a tip-off from a former head of an international humanitarian organization who used to be based in Zimbabwe. There was an explosive dossier detailing heinous crimes of the Gukurahundi — a series of massacres of civilians carried out by the Zimbabwe National Army in the s — and had been kept under lock and key for decades. We were told that somewhere in the dusty libraries of universities, or government institutions, was a report with details of extrajudicial killings of the Ndebele-speaking people by a Zimbabwean army acting on the command of the recently-deposed president Robert Mugabe. Mugabe had deployed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade soldiers in the Matebeleland and Midlands areas of Zimbabwe in the early s to quell dissident threats, an operation that resulted in the well-documented atrocities. An exhaustive search for the dossier — the first-ever to provide names of the deceased and expose blow-by-blow accounts of how the executions were carried out — took place in the streets and corridors of the University of Oxford, by African reporters who were there on a fellowship with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

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It began with a tip-off from a former head of an international humanitarian organization who used to be based in Zimbabwe. There was an explosive dossier detailing heinous crimes of the Gukurahundi — a series of massacres of civilians carried out by the Zimbabwe National Army in the s — and had been kept under lock and key for decades.

We were told that somewhere in the dusty libraries of universities, or government institutions, was a report with details of extrajudicial killings of the Ndebele-speaking people by a Zimbabwean army acting on the command of the recently-deposed president Robert Mugabe. Mugabe had deployed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade soldiers in the Matebeleland and Midlands areas of Zimbabwe in the early s to quell dissident threats, an operation that resulted in the well-documented atrocities.

An exhaustive search for the dossier — the first-ever to provide names of the deceased and expose blow-by-blow accounts of how the executions were carried out — took place in the streets and corridors of the University of Oxford, by African reporters who were there on a fellowship with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Together with Zimbabwean reporters, whose names have been withheld for security reasons, we embarked on locating the year-old report. Taking the lead, the Zimbabwean reporters laid the groundwork and set the direction for the search.

This involved tracking down relevant people who knew about the dossier in Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom. For three decades, few people knew about the existence of the dossier, and even fewer discussed it.

Soon the team was not only aware of the existence of the dossier but of its possible whereabouts. But where exactly in the UK? On condition of anonymity, the source agreed to give us much-needed direction, at a time when we almost gave up. Thanks to our source, we traced one copy of the dossier to a library at the University of Oxford; another copy was found at the University of Cambridge.

The librarians took plenty of cajoling. When they finally allowed one of our team members to peruse the report, it was under strict conditions; he was not supposed to photocopy, and only to skim through it. Under this predicament, a smart phone came in handy, and he managed to covertly take pictures of the more than page report. Undeniably, the details were shocking. It was replete with gruesome pictures of badly mutilated bodies, names of the deceased and accounts from survivors and medical officials.

After being approached by international aid agencies that were operating in Matebeleland about the senseless killings, Mugabe instructed them to compile a report about the situation only to frown upon it. When these agencies presented the report to Mugabe on March 18, , less than people had been killed by the Fifth Brigade, but failure to arrest the situation would lead to the deaths of as many as 20, civilians by Image: Wikimedia Commons.

While Mugabe, the main architect of the Gukurahundi massacre, is no longer in power, other responsible individuals still occupy senior positions in government, including the current presidency — which is why Zimbabwean reporters withheld their names from the byline. Together we spent hours going through the dossier and putting together stories about the atrocities committed by the Zimbabwean government. All in all, the Gukurahundi story was a result of a collaboration between at least six people and two news organizations.

Many reports and books have been published about the atrocities of Gukurahundi in the last 30 years. So what was so unique about this dossier? Firstly, the report was compiled by Oxfam which, along with other international aid organizations, was on the ground when the killings started in the Matebele and Midlands provinces in This provided a level of detail and evidence not available in reports produced after the massacres, which were by scholars and individuals with no first-hand experience.

Secondly, the dossier contained reports from doctors, nurses, headmasters, teachers and civilians, together with pictures of badly injured and dying people. It gives a death count and identifies civilians including women and children killed in the first month of the massacres. It also exposed the existence of mass graves in several areas in both Matebeleland and Midlands areas.

Three decades later, even with the political changes in Zimbabwe, the Gukurahundi massacres still loom large. Our investigation unearthed long-lost information that is now part of the public record. Ntibinyane Ntibinyane is a journalist from Botswana. A career reporter with over a decade of experience, Ntibinyane cut his teeth in journalism as a reporter at Botswana Guardian and The Midweek Sun.

Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Our fortnightly bulletin brings you the latest from GIJN, useful tips, tools and the best investigative stories around the world.

Donate Now Go. Global Investigative Journalism Network. Somewhere in Oxford Thanks to our source, we traced one copy of the dossier to a library at the University of Oxford; another copy was found at the University of Cambridge. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.

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How They Did It: Digging up Zimbabwe’s Gukurahundi Massacre Dossier

From January , a campaign of terror was waged against the Ndebele people in Matabeleland in western Zimbabwe. No one has accepted the blame for the violence, but the recent release of historical documents has shed new light on those responsible. The wide-ranging reports include diplomatic correspondence, intelligence assessments and raw intelligence garnered by spies recruited from within the Zimbabwean government. These papers — augmented by my investigations and the testimony of Zimbabwean witnesses — appear to substantiate what survivors and scholars have always suspected: Mugabe, then prime minister, was the prime architect of well-planned and systematically executed mass killings. Zapu, a party led by nationalist rival Joshua Nkomo, represented the main obstacle. Zapu enjoyed overwhelming support among the Ndebele and was seen as an impediment by the leadership of Zanu-PF.

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New documents claim to prove Mugabe ordered Gukurahundi killings

After trying twice to erect a memorial to victims of the Gukurahundi massacres on community land in the Maphisa area of Bhalagwe, Zimbabwe in , a local civic group succeeded on 21 February, according to their community leader. The memorial was destroyed by vandals days later. The area, named after the Ndebele people, spans three provinces. Although some reports indicate that 2, people were killed during the Gukurahundi in the s, primarily in Matabeleland, a number of reports put the number of victims at 20, or higher. Siya likhumbula.

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What Was Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe?

In , Nqobizitha Mhlaleri was ten years old when a bloody massacre in western Zimbabwe destroyed his community and left him an orphan. They left a trail of disaster. I was told to lie face down…The next thing were gunshots and they left. When I went to check, I saw my husband in a pool of blood.

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