Gukurahundi sparks fresh trauma fears


HUMAN rights activists have warned that truth telling in trying to address Gukurahundi may have an unintended consequence of traumatising innocent children born out of rape during the period.

This came out during a two-day Gukurahundi symposium organised by the Public Policy Research Institute (Ppriz) in Bulawayo last week.

The symposium discussed the national healing process, implications on gender, honouring the dead, taking stock of ongoing healing initiatives, healing the living, peace-building and development among other interventions.

Ukuthula Trust representative Sibonginkosi Moyo-Mpofu lamented that little has been said about women and girls who were abused and raped by Fifth Brigade soldiers.

Moyo-Mpofu said there must be a careful approach on how to deal with the rape victims and even children born out of rape.

"In most cases people speak about the number of people who were killed, but there is no talk of women and girls who were raped,” Moyo-Mpofu said.

“Some of them were left pregnant and the children born out of those rapes are now adults.

“These children are a constant reminder for the abuses to the rape victims and up  to now these women have not been healed from that trauma.”

She said even acquiring birth certificates for those children is a traumatising experience for female victims.

“It is very important that the consultation considers what the victims and even children born from those rapes want because this issue is sensitive and may traumatise the victims and those children for life," she said.

Human rights activist Effie Ncube concurred, saying truth- telling on such a sensitive matter may result in some children born out of rape committing suicide.

"Imagine if I was born in Matobo and had been given a Ncube surname and all of a sudden it emerges that I am Mujuru, this will not heal me and how will that community take me after getting to know that I have changed surname because I am a child of Gukurahundi rape! This will be traumatic," Ncube said.

Over 20 000 innocent civilians were reportedly killed by the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade soldiers deployed by the government between 1982 and 1987 in Matabeleland and Midlands.

Some victims were impregnated by the soldiers.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently launched the Gukurahundi Manual to be used by chiefs in trying to address Gukurahundi.

Former Ntabazinduna Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni said: “How would be the conversation conducted when the individual who raped a woman is talking to that woman and asking how she feels, what are her thoughts, what does she want done?

"During Gukurahundi, there were over 150 000 women and girls who were raped by the fifth brigade.

“That is why people try to remove this issue from being a crime into a discussion over some cup of tea, over thick porridge and vegetables, that is offensive, this is a crime."

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