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State must act on Bhalagwe plaque

Some human rights groups are now pointing an accusing finger at the State, because the State’s law enforcement arm, the police do not seem to be doing something about the despicable matter.

FOR the fourth time, a plaque to commemorate some of the thousands of people who were murdered during the infamous mid-1980s Gukurahundi massacres has been destroyed by yet to be identified hoodlums.

While it is a serious matter of concern that the memorial plaque at Bhalagwe in Maphisa, Matabeleland South province continues to be destroyed by some unknown thugs, it is a double concern that it appears very little to no serious action is being taken to bring the culprits to book.

Some human rights groups are now pointing an accusing finger at the State, because the State’s law enforcement arm, the police do not seem to be doing something about the despicable matter.

Honestly speaking, knowing the efficiency of our police force when it means business, there is no way that plaque can be vandalised four times and not even a single suspect is reported to be helping the police to gather information regarding the issue.

To clear its name, the State needs to promptly act by replacing the Bhalagwe plaque and President Emmerson Mnangagwa should officially unveil the plaque in the spirit of his currently ongoing Gukurahundi public hearings initiative being led by tradition leaders.

Private individuals and organisations cannot keep replacing the plaque. It should be the responsibility of the State to identify and maintain mass graves where Gukurahundi victims were buried, otherwise the entire public hearings risk being dismissed as a charade, an act of pulling wool over the nation and world’s eyes.

If the State is indeed serious about bringing closure to the Gukurahundi issue, it should prove its sincerity by acting on the Bhalagwe plaque which continues to be destroyed by some unknown hooligans, who often have the cheek to use explosives to blow up the plaque.

As far as we are concerned, the State’s apparent failure to expeditiously act on the Bhalagwe plaque will irreparably destroy its image which is already in tatters after being the main actor behind the Gukurahundi massacres when soldiers attached to the then notorious North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade ploughed through Matabaleland and Midlands provinces indiscriminately killing civilians under the guise of flashing out suspected dissidents.

It is no laughing matter that a reported 20 000 innocent souls, some of which are interred at Bhalagwe, were snuffed out by their own government, which continues to show its insincerity to appease both the dead and living who are still suffering the pain of the State’s wrath.

Bhalagwe became one of the most notorious detention camps during Gukurahundi where thousands of people were detained and tortured. Many of them were tortured to death for no reason and it has taken forever for the State to acknowledge its horrendous blunder which the late former President Robert Mugabe described as “a moment of madness”.

Decades later the madness persists with the State showing little to no concern over the destruction of the Bhalagwe plaque which is rudely opening up old festering wounds.

The Bhalagwe plaque sticks out like a sore thumb and the more the State continues to turn a blind eye to it, the more it leaves some of us with no choice, but to believe the allegations that it is behind the plaque’s continued destruction.

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