History Monday : Gukurahundi – Human Remains Part 2

Hi, this is from the CCJP report of 1997


Murders in the 1980s were perpetrated by both government agencies and dissidents. The case studies in Part Two illustrate that approximately 98% of deaths and disappearances in the communal lands were at the hands of government agencies, and 2% were murders by dissidents. In Tsholotsho, for example, 18 murders by dissidents were claimed by civilians, while a further 900+ deaths and disappearances, mainly perpetrated by 5 Brigade were identified, most occurring in February 1983.

In addition to murders in communal lands, dissidents murdered people living in the sparsely populated commercial farming areas. Approximately 70 deaths in these regions were at the hands of dissidents, not government agencies.

Dissidents would typically murder one or two civilians in the communal lands in any one incident, almost invariably people they believed to be sell-outs. The victims would be murdered and the dissidents would then make a hasty departure before the authorities arrived. This meant that families of victims were able to give their deceased traditional burials.

Other dissident victims were typically commercial farmers and their families or employees, who would also be murdered in hit and run raids or ambushes. These victims too would be left behind and were accorded proper funerals.

There are a few notable exceptions here, namely the six tourists who were abducted and buried in shallow graves, in July 1982. There was also an abduction of two commercial farmers in Bubi, one of whose remains were only recovered years later. Such cases of abduction were not common. In both these cases, remains were ultimately recovered and identified.

Those in mass graves, and those who were not given decent burials are the civilians killed by state agencies, in particular the 5 Brigade. Part Two, III, indicates 1437 killings and 354 disappearances in which the names of victims are known. Of these, 1134 deaths and 169 disappearances were by 5 Brigade.

These figures are known by researchers to be incomplete, with substantial indications on record of large numbers of dead in areas not extensively researched for this report, in particular in Lupane and Nkayi, where mass graves and bodies in mine shafts have been reported. Matabeleland South, including Matobo, Gwanda and Bulilimamangwe also have mass graves and reports of bodies down mine shafts.


1. Nehanda Radio (2013) ‘Gukurahundi Massacres: Human Remains (Part 15)’

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