Police ban Gukurahundi commemorations
BULAWAYO – Police in Bulawayo have banned commemorations on Gukurahundi massacres on the “feeble” excuse that the meeting would cause disharmony and division.
The “emotional” commemorations were supposed to take place on Saturday afternoon at the Presbyterian Church in the city.
Organisers of the event, Bulawayo based pressure group, Ibhetshu Likazulu, had earlier in the week notified the police as required under the harsh Public Order and Security Act.
The event was meant to mark the annual World Genocide Day, which falls on January 25.
In this case, the commemorations were meant to remember the butchering of over 20 000 innocent civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces by a North Korean trained military brigade in the early years following independence in 1980.
In a written response to Ibhetshu Likazulu’s notification, the Officer Commanding Bulawayo District, only indentified as Chief Superintendent L.S Maninge, cited two reasons for banning the event.
“This office acknowledges receipt of your notification dated the 21st of January 2013 in which you intended to commemorate the so-called World Genocide Day on the 26th of January at Presbyterian Church from 1300 to 1700 hours,” reads the police letter.
“I regret to inform you that this office cannot sanction the event due to the following reasons. Firstly, the agenda of the meeting is likely to cause disharmony and division among the society. Secondly, the district is overstretched with other commitments on the day,” reads the letter.
The Daily News witnessed scores of people flocking to the venue only to be turned away.
Speaking to the Daily News, Ibhetshu Likazulu secretary Mbuso Fuzwayo said the police action was uncalled for.
“I still don’t understand why the police will deny us a clearance just for a commemoration. After all, these kind of commemorations are taking place across the world since it is World Genocide Day.
“Besides we have been doing these commemorations for years, why not now?” fumed Fuzwayo.
“Gukurahundi was unquestionably one of the worst genocides ever in the world hence our move to remember the innocent souls who perished in this part of the world,” he said.
Minister of Water Resources, Development and Management Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, National Healing minister Moses Mzila Ndlovu and Matabeleland Civic Society Forum spokesperson Dumisani Nkomo were due to speak at the commemorations, which had the theme “Transitional justice towards peaceful elections”.