History Monday: Gukurahundi – Fifth Brigade Abuses Part 2

Hi, this is from Nehanda Radio and a continuation from last week


NOTE: Numbers in brackets: indicate source numbers of Bulawayo Legal Projects Center (BLPC) interviews from which information was derived.

** indicates source document is in a Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) file

**** indicates an incident involving dissidents. For all other incidents, the perpetrators are identified as Army units or other Government agencies such as the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), or Police Support Unit (SU). 5 Brigade (5B) may be assumed as the perpetrator unless another unit is mentioned.

Tsholotsho has been roughly divided up into four regions for this section, each one being an area within the vicinity of known 5 Brigade Base Camps. In practice some villages were affected by more than one of these units, and in early 1983 the far south of Tsholotsho was probably affected by the unit based in Tsholotsho, as the one at Mbamba Camp appears to have been established later in 1983. The four regions are:

1) Pumula Mission, covering the whole western area and much of the south.

2) Mbamba/Nanda, in the extreme south and east

3) Tsholotsho town and the central part of Tsholotsho, west towards Dhlamini Rest Camp.

4) Gwayi/Sipepa region, in northern Tsholotsho.

The spellings of names of “villages” or “lines” have been standardized in accordance with the 1975 Surveyor General’s map of the Nyamandlovu region (Sheet SE-35-15).


In general, this seems to have been very badly affected by 5 Brigade, who set up camp close to the Mission, from late January 1983. From interviews, it is clear that many settlements within a very wide radius of the mission experienced mass beatings, or were burnt to the ground because villagers had fled the area.

A few parts of this area, to the west of the Mission ( e.g Korodziba, Soloboni), have been entirely resettled since the early eighties, so reports on 5 Brigade activities here trickle in from other locations in Tsholotsho, wherever people have been resettled to. Fortunately, events around Pumula Mission were well documented by CCJP, and File H also has comprehensive accounts of events in some villages. It has therefore been possible to place those few interviews which lack detail in context within the broader data framework.

NESHANGO LINE (next to Ningombeneshango Airstrip): 3 FEB 1983: Mass beating of villagers and shooting of 2 young pregnant girls, followed by their being bayoneted open to reveal the still moving foetuses. These two girls (already pregnant) and several others had been raped by members of the ZNA in November of 1982, who reportedly left by helicopter after several days of raping these girls. (1146 – 1168 inclusive, also file H). Raped: 8 Dead: 2 Beaten: 6 named victims, 50 estimated total

KUMBULA SCHOOL, PUMULA VILLAGE (approx 5 km SE of Pumula Mission) 13 FEB 1983: Whole village beaten, and 7 shot dead, including a teacher, after digging their own grave. Witnesses refer to a fountain of blood from the pit. (file H, all named,** CCJP case files confirms 1 name, also 298-9, 310-11)

APRIL 1983: Several ZAPU officials badly beaten, one named victim (323) Dead: 7 Beaten: 50 estimated (January), plus 10 estimated (April).

DINGANDAWO: (near to Kumbula School): 11 FEB 1983: The villagers were rounded up and beaten, and then some were shot dead at 7p.m. (458-9). **CCJP case files has name of 1 dead here, 1983 Dead: 3 named, plus others Beaten: 50 est

SAHLUPEKA (approx 7 km due South of Pumula Mission) FEB 83: the whole village was rounded up in the evening and very severely beaten. 5 members of 2 families were chosen and shot to death in a shallow mass grave.(file H has all names) Dead: 5 Beaten : 50 est

PATALIKA: (2 km south of Tankahukwe) 2 men were abducted and their decomposed bodies were later found in the bush. (319, also file H) Another villager from here was abducted from Bulawayo, where he had gone for safety, and was later shot dead at Tshitatshawa in Tsholotsho. (482). Dead: 3

PELELA: (approx 8 km due South of Pumula Mission) FEB 83: Man killed coming home from a beer drink. A stranger to the village was also tortured and left for dead. He managed to crawl almost to the village and died – nobody knows who he was. (File H, 303) FEB 83: Man accused of supporting dissidents and killed. (320). FEB 83: a villager from here fled to Plumtree, where he was killed by 5B. (294). APRIL 83: villagers who were in church were forced to leave by 5B and made to sing and dance all day. 5B also killed and ate 3 goats. (3257) Dead: 4

DANDA: (approx 9 km due South of Pumula Mission) FEB 83: 3 ex ZIPRA from Mkubazi were among many taken to the pan here and shot. One escaped with gun shot wounds to Botswana and one was killed. The other went missing. (3246/7/8) Missing:1 Dead:1 GSW:1

MUZIOMUTSHA (10 km South of Pumula Mission) 14 FEB 1983: 4 villagers were badly beaten, then 3 were taken to Pumula Mission. One was tied to a tree and was later shot. The other 2 had to bury him. (257, 2259-60) Dead: 1 Beaten: 3

CAWUNAJENA (10 km SW of Pumula Mission): 8 FEB 1983: Entire village rounded up, and many were beaten very severely. 12 men and women, including 2 school teachers, were shot dead. This happened during the night. The 5B camped nearby and the dead were not buried until a year later, by which time many bones were scattered around.(File H has all names, also 479). 2 other men abducted and killed here in FEB. (315, 318) A woman was also abducted into the bush and shot with her baby on her back. (314) Another woman was also abducted in FEB and shot. (481) Dead: 17 Beaten: 50 est

TEMBILI: (adjacent to Cawunajena) FEB 83: People here were beaten by 5B after church and made to cook daily for the soldiers, who killed and ate some of their livestock. (3258-60) APRIL 83: a man visiting from Patalika was shot by 5B. (3256) Dead:1 Beaten:20? Property:livestock eaten.

GULAKABILI (approx 20 km SSW of Pumula Mission) 12 FEB 1983: Whole village abducted from nearby to the Pumula Mission area, where they were beaten. Some were then forced to dig a mass grave, made to climb in, and were shot. They were buried while still moving, and villagers were made to dance on the grave and sing songs in praise of ZANU-PF. Number of dead given as 12. (File H has all names, also BLPC 300, 305-9 incl) One victim locked in a hut and burned to death. (296) MARCH 83: 5B burnt 5 homesteads one morning. (3246-48) ZNA soldier killed while trying to visit his mother, on leave.

(304) 2 others from this area also killed by 5B, circumstances unclear. (478, 484) A woman was accused of cooking for dissidents and was shot dead. (293). A woman and her child were taken from here to Pumula Mission and killed (292, also file H) 7 others from this area met individual deaths – one was detained trying to get to Plumtree and was never seen again, another went missing from a house in Bulawayo, and his wife and child were apparently killed by 5B, while trying to flee to Botswana. Another man had his throat cut and bled to death. (file H) Dead: 25 named victims Beaten: 50 est Destroyed: 7 known homesteads.


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

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