Tsvangirai to visit scene of 2008 Chiweshe massacres

One of the many scenes of violence during the 2008 election period

By Tichaona Sibanda
26 October 2012

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will on Saturday visit the scene where 14 party activists were killed in a single night at Chaona village in Chiweshe, Mashonaland central province.

The deadly May 2008 massacre, described by some of the surviving victims as vicious and despicable, has been blamed on ZANU PF militia who were allegedly led by two well known legislators and a senior member of the CIO.

No one has been arrested for the attacks despite the MDC in 2009 submitting a list to the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, with the list of the perpetrators.

The ZANU PF MP for Muzarabani South, Edward Raradza, is believed to have provided transport for the militia to Chaona, while Mazowe North MP, retired Major Cairo Mhandu, and CIO director Elias Kanengoni, directed the massacre.

Kanengoni is well known for his role in shooting and maiming Gweru businessman Patrick Kombayi in 1990 when the late Vice President Simon Muzenda tried to stop him campaigning against him.

Kombayi was at the time the National Organising Secretary of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) led by Edgar Tekere. Kanengoni was convicted for the assassination attempt but was later pardoned by Robert Mugabe.

The MDC-T MP for Mazowe central, Shepherd Mushonga, told SW Radio Africa that the Prime Minister will take time to visit the graves of the victims.

The premier will also talk to the families of the victims and survivors still living in the area. The MDC President will later address a memorial rally at Chaona business centre, in honour of the victims.

Mushonga said the massacred villagers were men who were tied up and killed by blows to the head or by machetes. He said while the killings may have been frenzied, the attacks were well orchestrated.

‘The awful thing about this massacre is that people were executed in cold blood and in public view by perpetrators well known in the district and province. These innocent people were destroyed when all they did was to exercise their democratic right to choose their leader,’ Mushonga said.
The MP told us he has faith that one day justice will prevail as there are many witnesses to the massacre.

It was on the evening of 5th May 2008, three days after Robert Mugabe’s regime finally released the official results of the March 29th election, when over 200 ZANU PF militias rampaged through the Chaona village, killing the 14 MDC-T supporters. The massacre remains one of the bloodiest scenes of political violence in the past decade.

ZANU PF militants and men in army uniform, led by Mhandu and Raradza, brutally beat or shot dead the 14 MDC-T members.

But many more were beaten during the attacks. Women were stripped and beaten so viciously that whole sections of flesh fell away from their buttocks. The militias also resorted to genital mutilation.

The postmortem report for victims listed ‘crushed genitals’ as one of the causes of death. Mushonga said the militia and soldiers inflicted serious injuries on those they didn’t kill by dipping their knobkerries and sticks into paraquat, a highly toxic herbicide used for weed control, before beating their victims.

The herbicide blocks the healing process and many of the victims died months later from their wounds.

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