By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
26 February 2014
Exiled victims of the Gukurahundi genocide have approached South African lawyers seeking help in their bid to compel the authorities there to investigate the 1980s massacres.
Representatives from the Patriotic Alliance of Mthwakazi Union (PAMU) said 40 people gave evidence before human rights lawyers in Johannesburg last week. SW Radio Africa heard that some lawyers were moved to tears as the victims gave their testimonies. PAMU said more people will give testimonies in the next few weeks.
Spokesman Cosmas Ncube told SW Radio Africa’s Cutting Edge programme that they want the South African government to investigate the episode which claimed lives of an estimated 20,000 people.
Ncube said: ‘We will soon be approaching the authorities here with evidence and if they don’t act on it we will go to court.’ He added: ‘Gukurahundi is Mugabe’s worst crime since 1980 and he together with his goons must be tried.’ Ncube said it was ‘disappointing’ that Gukurahundi was not being given the prominence which he said it deserves.
The Gukurahundi occurred in the mid 1980s and the victims were mainly supporters of Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU party. The North Korean trained Fifth Brigade, created outside the national army, led the atrocities under the pretext of flushing out dissidents in the Matabeleland and Midlands areas.
Mugabe has since ‘regretted’ the episode which he said was ‘a moment of madness’ but he has never apologized. In 2010 Genocide Watch, a US-based human rights group, said the Guhurahundi was officially an act of genocide and the perpetrators must be brought before the International Criminal Court.
Ncube said South African authorities must take advantage of this pronouncement and ‘move fast against the perpetrators before they die.’
PAMU is not the first group to try to get South Africa to take action against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
In 2008 the Southern African Litigation Center (SALC) and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) approached the South African government asking them to investigate cases of torture against MDC members. After the South African authorities failed to act, the human rights groups then approached the High Court which ruled that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the country’s police must investigate state terrorism in Zimbabwe.
The NPA immediately appealed against the decision but in November last year the Supreme Court upheld the High Court decision. The Supreme Court said Pretoria had a duty to probe the allegations of human rights violations as required by the Rome Statute, which South Africa is a signatory to. The NPA has since appealed to the Constitutional Court as South Africa continues to resist taking any action against it’s neighbour.
The Rome Statute is the founding law of the International Criminal Court.