Gukurahundi: 21 selected cases at ST JOSEPH’S MISSION (approx. 30km south west of Kezi)

Gukurahundi: 21 selected cases at ST JOSEPH’S MISSION (approx. 30km south west of Kezi):

by Nja Yo Thuvi (Taurai Njayothuvi Njekete) on Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 9:46am

1. November 82: Bango Area: unknown people came at night and shot dead 2 men, an ex-ZIPRA and his uncle.

2. November 1982: dissidents tied up a woman and abducted her daughter and 2 other young girls, whom they raped and released in the morning.

3. End February 1983 (CCJPZ report): Enos Nkala addressed a rally at Kafusi Dam and people were trucked there from all over Matabeleland South. The Provincial ZAPU treasurer was detained for 2 months after this meeting, was given electricshock treatment, and severely beaten. He was detained because he challenged Nkala who said people willingly supported dissidents: the ZAPU official asked Nkala when in history people withoutvguns had been able to arrest those with guns. He also asked if the 5 Brigade really intended to kill all the Ndebele, as they kept saying. This same man had been badly beaten by the army month earlier. The Chronicle also reports on this rally (on 1 March), and on the first comment made by this man, although it neglects to mention the man’s subsequent detention and torture for this comment.

4. December 1983: Mgulatshani area; 8 named men and women plus “many others” were detained by a ZNA unit (not 5 Brigade). Some were demobbed ZIPRAs. All were severely beaten. They were tortured by CIO and given electric shocks to the testicles, at Kezi Air Strip. One of those detained in 1983 was detained again in May 1984 at Bhalagwe. He was with other ex – ZIPRAs, held for 4 months and regularly tortured. Many of the ZIPRAs just disappeared during this time, and others were threatened with ending up “down mine shafts”, 5 named.

5.January 1984: ZANU-PF officials addressed a rally at Mbembeswana in central Matobo. People were forced to attend and were trucked in from all over the region, including St Joseph’s. On the way home from this rally an army puma crashed, killing 6 school children from St Joseph’s Mission and injuring 104 others, some very seriously. The CCJPZ report comments that The Chronicle reports the incident, but gets the location of the accident wrong.

7. February 1984: villagers in the area were rounded up first to the 5 Brigade camp near St Joseph’s and then to Bhalagwe. (Tshipisane village mentioned, among other unnamed villages.) Victims, both men and women, refer to being beaten with “logs” and also thorn branches. People talk of being tortured into making false confessions. There is also reference to women having sharp sticks pushed into their vaginas.

8. A man found herding donkeys west of the mission was beaten by 5 Brigade for “curfew breaking”, taken to Bhalagwe where he was tortured and detained for three months.

9. February 1984: an elderly woman who ran a grinding mill was severely beaten by 5 Brigade at Bidi Store for breaking the curfew and the food embargo. The next day her female co-workers were also beaten, and forced to open the store so the 5 Brigade could drink beer.

10. 2 villagers (ZAPU branch secretary and 1 other) were severely beaten by 5 Brigade in the bush, and were hospitalised for 3 months.

11. 2 villagers, a man and a woman were severely beaten in their home by 5 Brigade one morning.

12. 2 women, 1 with a baby, badly beaten by 5 Brigade, one of them on 2 occasions.

13. A husband and wife found on the road were badly beaten, the wife stripped naked first. Another was beaten with them and taken to Bhalagwe.

14. A woman, her brother and 2 others were removed from their homes, beaten, taken to Bhalagwe, and the woman had sharp objects forced into her vagina, along with further beatings.

15. February, 1984: an old man and 1 other were severely beaten for “parenting dissidents”, and were taken to Bhalagwe for several months.

16. February 1984: Mzola Dam area: a group of at least 8 elderly men (named) were severely beaten by 5 Brigade for eating at 11 in the morning. They were forced to do strenuous exercise while being beaten throughout the day. One was then released, while the others were kept overnight, transferred to Guardian Angel and then Mabisi Dip. Torture continued and several of the men collapsed completely and one was finally beaten to death (named).

17. February 1984: near St Joseph’s dam: 5 Brigade summoned an old man across a field and beat him for not running. He fell over and was beaten with sticks until his nose and mouth bled. His family took him home by wheelbarrow.

18. April 1984: a man found driving a car at Bidi Shopping Centre was accused of being senior ZAPU and beaten. His wife and child were beaten and his car was shot full of holes. He was then detained at Bhalagwe for 3 months and was tortured by CIO.

19. November 1984: Mtsuli village: 9 members of 5 Brigade severely beat a man in front of others and kicked him in the diaphragm until he vomited blood.

20. 11 February 1985 (CCJPZ formal report): a man from Bidi was among many abducted throughout Matabeleland in nightly raids by CIO. By November 1985, he had not been located. 2 other named men went missing in this area in February 1985.

21. May 1987: dissidents accused people in Mtsuli village of being sell -outs. They severely beat 2 men. The incident was reported to ZRP and the 2 dissidents were later shot


1. NESHANGO LINE (next to Ningombeneshango Airstrip):3 February 1983: Mass beating of villagers and shooting of 2 young pregnant girls, followed by their being bayoneted open to reveal the still moving fetuses. These two girls (already pregnant) and several others had been raped by members of the ZNA in November of 1982, who reportedly left by helicopter after several days of raping these girls.
.Raped : 8
Dead : 2
Beaten : 6
named victims, 50

2m KUMBULA SCHOOL, PUMULA VILLAGE (approx. 5 km SE of Pumula Mission):13 February 1983: Whole village beaten, and 7 shot dead, including a teacher, after digging their own grave. Witnesses refer to a fountain of blood from the pit. (File H, all named,** CCJPZ case files confirms 1 name, also 298-9, 310-11)
April 1983: Several ZAPU officials badly beaten, one named victim.
Dead : 7
Beaten : 50

3. CAWUNAJENA (10 km SW of Pumula Mission):8 February 1983: Entire village rounded up, and many were beaten very severely. 12 men and women, including 2 school teachers, were shot dead. This happened during the night. The 5 Brigade camped nearby and the dead were not buried until a year later, by which time many bones were scattered around. (File H has all names, also 479). 2 other men abducted and killed here in February.
A woman was also abducted into the bush and shot with her baby on her back.
Another woman was also abducted in February and shot.
Dead : 17
Beaten : 50

4. GULAKABILI (approx. 20 km SSW of Pumula Mission):12 February 1983: Whole village abducted from nearby to the Pumula Mission area, where they were beaten. Some were then forced to dig a mass grave, made to climb in, and were shot. They were buried while still moving, and villagers were made to dance on the grave and sing songs inOne victim locked in a hut and burned to death.
March 83: 5 Brigade burnt 5 homesteads one morning.
ZNA soldier on leave was killed while trying to visit his mother. 2 others from this area also killed by 5Brigade, circumstances unclear.
A woman was accused of cooking for dissidents and was shot dead.
A woman and her child were taken from here to Pumula Mission and killed. Seven others from this area met individual deaths: One was detained trying to get to Plumtree and was never seen again, another went missing from a house in Bulawayo, and his wife and child were apparently killed by 5Brigade, while trying to flee to Botswana. Another man had his throat cut and bled to death.
Dead : 25 named victims Beaten : 50
Destroyed : 7 known homesteads

5. SOLONKWE: (4 km north west of Pumula Mission, now resettled):**June 1983: CCJPZ Comm of Inquiry report of 22 villagers including women and children burnt to death in a hut, after first being brutally beaten. The owner of the hut begged for the lives of his 4 youngest children to be spared, and this was allowed, although the life of an older daughter was not spared.
Dead : 22
Burnt :1 hut

6. PELANDABA (west of Pumula Mission):29 January1983: 5B rounded up many men from the area, tortured them until they couldn’t walk and shot them. File H names 8 victims, **CCJPZ case files also reports 11 other named deaths herein 1983, probably same day, and 1 death in 1984. BLPC names 2 more victims from Jan incident. 3 others killed, including a married couple who went to report dissidents in the area.
Dead : 25 named victims
Beaten : 50 estimated

7. SEQWINI:(approx. 15 km due north of Pumula Mission):15 April 1983: 1 person killed by 5 Brigade, bayoneted to death.

Dead : 1

8. KORODZIBA (west of Pumula Mission, now resettled):February 83: 5B came to the school and took about 60 pupils aged over 14 years. They were all beaten and asked about dissidents. 20-30 girls were raped and then ordered to have sex with some of the boys while the soldiers watched. They were beaten for 3 hours.
4 March 1983: 5 villagers were murdered at night for being PF-ZAPU members.
Also March: 2 children out of a group of children died of starvation trying to runaway from 5 Brigade in this area. They were trying to reach Ngamo railway siding, which is about 100 km NE of Korodziba. The dead were aged 9 and 14, the survivor was 15.
Dead : 5
Raped : 25
Beaten : 60
8. Bhalagwe Camp Bhalagwe Camp was originally a military camp. In 1982 the mainly ZIPRA army unit there were accused of being dissidents. The camp was shut down and not used much. It became a feared place in 1984, when thousands of civilians from all over Matabeleland South were trucked in and detained there. They were brutally tortured and many were killed. People were kept in very bad conditions. They were overcrowded and beaten daily. CIO as well as 5 Brigade also gave people electric shocks, submarine and other forms of torture. There was a lot of sexual torture at Bhalagwe. Women were raped and had sticks forced into them. Men had their genitals tied in rubber and beaten. People had to dig graves for those killed. Later, these bodies were removed and those who died were thrown down mine shafts in the region. The detentions of people, thousands at a time, continued from January until May 1984. After this detentions eased off, although some ZIPRA ex-combatants and ZAPU officials were kept on in detention for some months.The figures for atrocities in Matobo do not reflect the scale of what happened, because only a few people were interviewed. But the following numbers are what we were told bout.

Dead or missing : 220
Tortured / assaulted : 610
Mass beatings : 27 villages
Mass detentions : 18 villages
Property burnt : 35 homesteads
The following “village” summary reflects events in one area of south-western Matobo. Some villagers in the more northern part of this area were taken directly to Bhalagwe after their detention. This is particularly the case for those who lived in the vi cinity of St Joseph’s Mission. There was a small 5 Brigade base near to the mission, at Bidi, and people were often rounded up at this base, and from there to Bhalagwe.


3 responses to “Gukurahundi: 21 selected cases at ST JOSEPH’S MISSION (approx. 30km south west of Kezi)

  1. Fred Gurumani

    November 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    I feel sorry for these atrocities but the Ndebele people did the same if not worese things to shona people as far afield as Nyanga. They plundered our livestock,raped,abducted our women and even killed old useless men and women. This went on for 200 years until the whites came in 1890 and demarcated the country according to vernacular ie Manicaland, Mashonaland, Masvingo, Midlands and Matebeleland. So what goes round comes around. Revenge is always sour.

    • lungisani Nyandezulu Bhelemu

      February 13, 2014 at 1:03 am

      Msathanyoko wena sfebe sothuvi

    • john dube

      July 14, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      Find the definition of tribal wars and genocide before you make such a comment. What happened due to Mfecane was tribal wars to acquire land and survive, these wars were going on amongst the Shona tribes themselves and such wars have happened in all civilisations before constitutional governance.
      The people who suffered from the Gukurahundi include some Shona people who have lived all their lives in Matabeleland. The perpetrators include Ndebele people mainly Enos Nkala. Most of the atrocities were actually committed by government agents ie CIO and PISI. There were a few deserters from ZNA who did not want to be used as fodder in Mozambique, they had no political objective but just wanted to survive. That is why they were quietly intergrated into society after the unity accord.
      If you do a bit of research you will find that because of the cold war the British , despite having a millitary presence in the country.allowed the atrocities to go on to discredit Zapu who had agreed to help the ANC in the struggle against apartheid. Zanu worked with the Boers to cripple Zipra/Umkhonto weSizwe alliance. The west wanted to stop the spread of communism in southern africa.
      Get the bigger picture. The events are not as simplistic as you are made to believe.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: