History Monday: Gukurahundi – The Onslaught Part 1

Hi, this is sourced from Nehanda Radio and a 1997 report commissioned by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP)



In February 1983, the northernmost areas of Matabeleland South felt the effects of the first 5 Brigade onslaught, which primarily affected Matabeleland North. Civilians using the main Bulawayo – Plumtree road were particularly vulnerable, with several recorded instances of people being taken from buses at road blocks, and never being seen again.

The 5 Brigade was first reported further south in Matabeleland South in July 1983, where they were reported at Brunapeg Mission, in Bulilimamangwe. By late 1983, there were several major 5 Brigade incidents on record, including some deaths, beatings and the burning of 24 homesteads in Mbembeswana in Matobo.

However, it was in February 1984 that the 5 Brigade launched a systematic campaign of mass beatings and mass detentions in Matabeleland South, lasting several months. These tailed off after May 1984, after which the 5 Brigade was withdrawn for retraining. Sporadic reports of violations by both the army and dissidents continued throughout the ensuing years, until the Amnesty in 1988.

Apart from abuses at the hands of 5 Brigade, there was a far higher incidence of CIO as perpetrator than in Matabeleland North, mainly because of their involvement at Bhalagwe Camp and Sun Yet Sen. In addition, there were several reports of “Grey’s Scouts”, or a mounted unit, abusing people while on follow-up operations. There were no complaints filed against mounted ZNA units in Tsholotsho.


  1. Nehanda Radio (2012) ‘Gukurahundi Massacres: First 5 Brigade Onslaught (Part 11)’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s