History Monday: Gukurahundi -Fifth Brigade Abuses Part 1

Hi, this is from Nehanda Radio


Deaths have been assessed in terms of both sex and age of victims, with 3 age categories being used, for each sex:

MALE: 83% of all deaths FEMALE: 17% of all deaths

MALE: Under 20 yrs: 4% of all deaths Aged 20 – 60 yrs: 70% of all deaths Aged over 60 yrs: 9% of all deaths

FEMALE: Under 20 yrs: 4% of all deaths Aged 20 – 60 yrs: 9% of all deaths Aged over 60 yrs: 4% of all deaths

Men aged between 20 – 60 yrs are of `breadwinning age’ (ie 70% of all dead). However aprroximately 30-40% of them can be assumed to have had no dependants, as many had just returned from the war and had not yet married. Many others, at the top end of this age group, had fully grown children.

This means between 42% and 50% of all those killed can be assumed to have had dependants. In addition, a few of the women killed were widows with dependants, whose children were henceforth orphans. Around 2% fall in this category.

Total Breadwinners killed is likely to be around 45% of total deaths.

In terms of current figures on Nyamandlovu/Tsholotsho: TOTAL Deaths: approx 900+

BREADWINNERS Dead: approx 400

The vast majority of these were self-employed farmers, who supported themselves from their fields and occasional labour on surrounding farms and in nearby towns


This is the largest category of offence, involving both isolated beating incidents and also at least 60 incidents in which most or all villagers in a village were beaten. Both men and women were beaten, with no obvious preference for beating men in the mass beatings. Preference was sometimes shown to the elderly, who would be beaten less severely or not at all.

Individual or small group assaults: 314

Mass village beatings: 70 villages

Mass railway siding beatings: 4

If approx 50 villagers is assumed per mass beating, 3 400 villagers can be estimated to have been beaten.

Most common beating technique: People would be forced to lie face down on the ground, and then would be repeatedly beaten, often for several hours, with thick sticks or gun butts.

Most common complaints:

Permanent back\arm\leg\neck\hand aches, inhibiting any heavy work.

Fractured fingers\arms and other bones

Permanent scarring of buttocks and back

Recurring headaches, dizziness and high blood pressure

Permanent eye damage and hearing disorders

Jaw damage including loss of teeth

Permanent uterine disorders

Permanent kidney damage, also male impotence

For a region by region breakdown on all offences, see previous History Monday.


  1. Nehanda Radio (2012) ‘Gukurahundi Massacres: Overview of 5 Brigade Abuses (Part 10)’

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