Friday, 22 March 2013 08:48
Lovemore Kadzura in Rusape
A MASS grave where hundreds of people were buried after execution by the Ian Smith regime was recently discovered in Rusape.
The mass grave has been authenticated by the Fallen Heroes' Trust of Zimbabwe and the Department of National Museums and Monuments who are leading the exhumation process. Reburial is expected to start soon.
The mass graves were discovered by residents of Magamba Extension who were digging foundations for their homes, sinking boreholes as well as extracting pit sand.
Fallen Heroes' Trust of Zimbabwe's national chairman, Cde George Rutanhire, said although they were still in the preliminary stages of the process, they had gathered vital information on how people were tried, executed and buried.
"We are still in the preliminary stages, but we have managed to gather critical information on what exactly happened here.
“The area was a martial court where a magistrate would travel from Mutare and a court would sit on an anthill.
“Unfortunately a house was built on that anthill. The only sentences that were passed at the court were death.
"We also gathered that most people who were killed here were unarmed civilians and were mainly killed for petty crimes such as violating the unjustified curfews.
“There is also a place whites called The Butcher where people convicted of 'war crimes' were either hanged or shot. It was more of a shooting range for the Smith regime, but it was unfortunate that their targets were humans.
"To show how cruel and shameless the settle regime was, the whites who executed people wrote their names on the walls of the 'butcher', but during ceasefire they cemented them to conceal evidence. We are also going to exhume another mass grave at Nyazura Police Station where people were arrested, killed and thrown into a pit at the station," he said.
Cde Rutanhire said the exhumation and reburial exercise was non political and open to all members of the public.
"We are expecting to exhume hundreds if not thousands here. We are waiting for the traditional beer to mature.
“The exercise is not attached to any political organisation, hence everyone is free to come and witness the exercise. It is also an opportunity for the youths to fully understand how some people sacrificed their lives for the independence of this nation. We are also calling for all those who suspected that their relatives were executed here to be present during the process," Cde Rutanhire said.
Meanwhile Chief Makoni has called for the demolition of houses built on the shrine, saying it was unacceptable to construct houses on top of graves.
"We will approach the town council so that all the houses built on this mass grave are demolished because it is taboo to do so.
“These people died in pain and anger so we must treat them with respect. The council must find another space because this is a scared one. We are happy that finally our children who were killed by whites will be reburied with dignity," said Mr Johnson Tekere, Chief Makoni's chief aide.