History Monday: Gukurahundi – Fifth Brigade Abuses Part 4

Hi, this is from Nehanda Radio and is a continuation of last History Monday. This is a summary of the abuses committed during Gukurahundi


SEMAWURU/ CUSECULU/ NINGOMBENONZI (10 km NE of Pumula Mission): FEB 1983: All the people from these villages were rounded up and beaten and some were killed. Name of one dead victim. (600, 1125) JUNE 83: 5B shot 2 cows who ate their washing off the line. (3211) **** JULY 83: as dissidents passed through the village of Semawuru, the army arrived and started shooting. The villagers ran away and a woman was shot in the foot.

Her husband took her to hospital and in their absence Army vandalized the house. (1248) Genuine crossfire. OCT 83: A villager was asked about dissidents by “Nai Ka” and then hit in the mouth, losing all his teeth. A villager found milking and the headman of his village were taken to Pumula Mission by the Commander whose nickname was “Nai Ka”, and the villager was killed. (658, 590) An old man from the neighboring kraal of EMPISINI was hit with rifle butts. (608) A villager was assaulted when he asked a soldier to pay for goods taken from a child. (1120) Dead: 1 known victim. Beaten: 150 est

BONKWE/NYANGANYUNI (15 km NE of Pumula Mission) FEB 1983: A young woman from Bonkwe going to buy mealie meal was beaten for wearing her husband’s watch. Her husband was summoned to Nyanganyuni and beaten to death. Every bone in his body was broken – he is referred to as being “like a cloth”. (612) Another local was abducted to Pumula Mission and killed there. (file H) Dead: 2 Beaten: 1

FOLOSI (7 km due east of Pumula Mission): 3 FEB 1983: Whole village beaten with sticks. Boys were made to fight each other, while other villagers were forced to dig a mass grave. 4 men were made to lie face down in the grave and were then shot. (1169-1174 incl) 2 other men were abducted and tortured to death and buried in shallow graves. (file H). Dead: 6 Beaten: 50 est.

LUBESI (10 km south east of Pumula Mission): 7 FEB 1983: The entire village was rounded up, was forced to sing songs and was then beaten. 3 men were made to dig a grave (2 were “curfew-breakers” from neighboring Nxuma). They were made to jump in to the grave, and were then shot. They were buried while still moving. 5 Brigade also killed and ate a cow and some goats around this time, while camped at Lubesi Dam. (1135-7 incl, 1139, file H also refers to 2 of these dead) Dead: 3 Beaten: 50 est

MBIRIYA and NXUMA (15 km south east of Pumula Mission): END JAN 1983: All villagers in these two neighboring settlements were assembled in Mbiriya. They were accused of cooking for dissidents and everyone was beaten, after being placed in small groups. 10 people were shot dead at the dam (9 names). 4 were beaten to death, while others were badly beaten, including a 4mth old baby. Some of the injured went to Pumula hospital. After the beating, the villagers of Mbiriya deserted the village for a while, and 5 Brigade came back and burnt 15 homesteads to the ground. 10 others were killed at Nxuma, and buried in 1 grave (all names, file H). In another incident in February 1983, 2 teachers at Mbiriya School were badly assaulted, one was killed, and a house was burnt down. (1182-4, 1199, 1186-92 incl, 1257, 1262-1268 incl, 1292-93, 2016ff) APRIL 83: an army Puma carrying villagers after a rally where Mugabe spoke, was fired at and people were injured near Nxuma. (3273) Dead: 25 Beaten: 100 est Burnt: 15 homesteads

BUMBU (just east of Mbiriya): END JAN 1983: A Councillor and a man back from working in South Africa were shot dead. 11 homesteads were torched to the ground. When other villagers saw the fires, they ran away, but 5B fetched them back. 1 man was made to bury the dead and another was taken away and never seen again. (628, 634, 1116-18 incl, 1128-32 incl, 3261) JAN 1983: a man trying to return to work in Harare from here has never been seen again. (1272). **CCJP case files names another man who went missing in 1983. Dead: 2 Missing: 3 Burned: 11 homesteads.

BUTSHENA (just West of Mbiriya): 11 FEB 1983: The villagers moved out of their houses after witnessing what had happened in neighboring villages. On 11 Feb they saw 5 Brigade burning all their homesteads. (1143) Burned: 22 homesteads, 9 granaries

SANDAWANA (approx 10 km East of Mbiriya): 4 FEB 1983: A man accused of telling others to bury their property to save it was taken to Pumula Mission and killed. (1279) 10 FEB: all the villagers assembled and some were selected and beaten. At least one was taken away and killed. (1275) After this, the villagers deserted the village, and 5 Brigade found it empty and burnt down 30 homesteads – names of 28 owners given. (Exact date not clear – reports say variously Jan, Feb, April, – Feb seems most likely, as the curfew was still in force).

On this same day, a girl found near the homesteads were severely beaten. She was hidden by her parents and then smuggled by scotch cart 30 km southwards to Ndolwane clinic. (1179, 1254-58 incl, 1288-91 incl, 1300-17 incl, 1261) 2 men killed after being tortured at a borehole in this area. (file H) MAY 1984: a villager from here was among 5 taken from a bus for having no ID, and was apparently tortured and killed at Bhalagwe Camp in Kezi. [see Part Two, II for Bhalagwe Camp].(1278) NOV 1984: a man from here had his house burnt down, ran away and was never seen again, although rumor had it that he was buried at Empandeni Mission, in Bulilimamangwe. (1280) Dead: 5 known Beaten: 1 named, plus others Burnt: 30 homesteads

KALANE: (near Sandawana) 18 FEB 1983: The day the villagers saw neighboring Sandawana go up in flames they ran away. One villager came back to let his cattle out and was badly beaten. 11 kraals were burnt down that day. (1261) SEPT 1983: a villager was beaten to death and 3 homesteads were burnt. (1273-4) Dead: 1

Beaten: 1 Burnt: 14 homesteads

TSHOMWINA and DZOKOTZE (5 km due south of Mbiriya): Between January and February 1983 All the villagers of Tshomwina were forced-marched to Dzokotze nearby. They were beaten, and 5 were killed. One man died after terrible mutilations which included having his jaw broken and his tongue cut out. This man ran away and was found by his family in a neighboring village. He took 8 days to die, without medical care. (1186-98) 20 homesteads in Tshomwina were burnt down. (1186-98) A ZNA member home on leave was taken to Pumula, tortured, taken from there in a car and never seen again. (1144) Another interview refers to 6 villagers from TSHOMWINA detained in Jan 1983, taken to Pumula Mission, where they were beaten and released after 6 weeks. (1140-41) Dead: 5 Missing: 1 Beaten: 100 est Burned: 20 homesteads. Detained: 6

DZOKOTZE: OCT 83: **** DISSIDENTS shot dead 4 and injured a 5th, accused of conniving with the Army. (1295-99incl) Dead: 4 GSW: 1

GARIYA – near BUTABUBILI (12 km due south of Mbiriya): 5 Brigade referred to as raping all the women in the village, and forcing them to cook for them. (Time not given, but probably early 1983). They are then said to have returned some months later, posing as dissidents and beating people.(569) Another interview refers to 3 killed by 5 Brigade, including the kraal head, in 1983. (569-70) JUNE 1983: a few villagers found at a nearby dam were beaten and 9 villagers were killed. (1292-4) SEPT 1983: 5B came at night and took away 4 men in the village, who were then shot at a nearby kraal. One survived.(575) OCT 1983: 6 homesteads are burnt, and 3 villagers are beaten. The woman who was ZAPU chairwoman for the area was burnt to death in her hut. (1270-71, 1279) DEC 84: 5B interrogated villagers about dissidents. They injured one man, and woman had her leg broken . They then burnt one villager to death in his hut. (576-7, 670) Dead: 17 Raped: several GSW: 1 Beaten: 6 known plus others Burned: 6 homesteads

MGODI MASILI: (5 km east of Butabubili) 2 FEB 1983: villagers heard 5B coming and ran away. 2 who stayed behind were bayoneted and beaten to death. An old woman was also killed, and 7 huts and 2 granaries were burnt. (555, 557, 581) Young men were taken from the villages in the area to train as “youth patrol” to look out for dissidents. Some youths were shot dead by 5 Brigade during the training exercise. (1259-60) 15 FEB 83: an ex ZIPRA was picked up and never seen again. (1253) FEB 84: a man was picked up and stabbed 32 times with bayonets by 5B, and thrown in a pit – he survived. (554) 1984: a man and his wife were picked up at the shopping center and beaten, then were taken to an Army camp in Plumtree for a week, before being hospitalized. (1723-24) 1 other man was also killed. (546) 1 other man also beaten. (574) Dead: 6 known victims plus others Missing: 1 Stabbed: 1 Beaten: 3 known Burnt: 7 huts 2 granaries

SIKENTE (approx 10 km due south of Sandawana): END JAN 1983: The whole village was marched to Sekatawu Pan. Many were beaten and some were accused of being dissidents and were shot and buried in one grave. Number of dead not given, one named victim. (562 )

Early 1983? Villagers were gathered at Sikente School and beaten. Some were shot dead, others were shot and injured. Details including time are vague. (558) **2 FEB 1983: CCJP reports store keeper and one other shot dead, also one woman with a GSW 3 teachers were also robbed and told to leave the area, and all the homesteads along the Nata river were burned down. (file B – this sounds the same day as 558) LATE 1983: one man detained at night and never seen again. (560) JUNE 1984: a man was taken off a bus in this area, was never seen again. (573) Missing: 2 Dead: 3 known – plus several others from Jan incident GSW: 1 Beaten: 100 est (incl 2 incidents) Burned: Most homesteads – more than 10 estimated

Another incident, SIKENTE area, time not clear, but probably not during early 1983, but later. 5 Brigade are accused of posing as dissidents, collecting a group of men and women, taking them into the bush and chopping them with axes. Interviewee suffered serious injuries – unclear how many others died or were injured.(568)

Another incident, SIKENTE area, time not clear – or perpetrator – this might have been dissidents although it sounds more like an early 5 Brigade incident. An unspecified number of villagers is referred to as having been “killed while worshiping” in the bush. 5 Brigade could well have killed people here as curfew-breakers – the dissidents almost without exception kill only sell-outs and usually make their motive clear. Is this possibly the same incident as the one above? Or it could be same as a church shooting incident among the Plumtree reports? (567) (Plumtree is 544) Dead: 2 named victims, plus others Injured: 2 named, plus others

JALUME (5 km north east of Sikente) 1983: a man was killed on his way back from a cattle sale. He was tortured with burning plastic and then shot. (580). 6 NOV 1985: 5B in plain clothes badly beat a woman, and axed her husband. They then burnt him to death in a hut along with his eldest child. Their footprints led back to the army camp nearby. (571, 572) Dead: 3 Beaten: 1

TSHIBIZINA (between Nengombenshango and Dhlamini airstrips) 3 FEB 1983: mass beating of the village, by 5B from Dlamini Camp, and the headman was shot dead. 2 women who were beaten too badly to walk were also shot dead. At least one homestead was burnt. (1122-3, 1126, 1142) **** FEB 83: 6 dissidents are referred to as beating 2 villagers in Tshibizina (1133-4). 1983: 5B shot dead a man in the village, and then next day the commander apologized. (1180). ** CCJP reports closure of school here after the Headmaster was beaten up in front of the pupils, after which he fled the area. (file B) SEPT 83: 3 taken to Pumula Mission for interrogation, one then killed (1121). **** NOV 1985: dissidents pulled a man out of bed and shot him dead. (1115) Dead: 5 Beaten: 50 est

TSHAKABANDA (approx 20 km due east of Pumula Mission): 7 FEB 1983: the whole village was beaten by 5 Brigade, and 2 were shot dead. Another interview refers to 2 people found chopping wood, who were accused of being dissidents and were bayoneted to death in front of the other villagers – it is not clear when this was. (497) SEPT 1983(?) Tshakabanda: 3 homesteads were burnt, villagers were beaten, and one victim was beaten to death. (1273-74) Dead: 5 Beaten: 50 est Burnt: 3 homesteads

BEMBA: (10 km due north of Tshibizina) 6 FEB 83: 5B marched villagers from Bemba to the school, where there were some from Pumula Mission. They were beaten for the whole day (7 named victims plus others). They also broke window panes and killed chickens and a goat. Beaten: 50 est Property:2 chickens, 1 goat.


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

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