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REPORT ON THE 1980's DISTURBANCES MATABELELAND S THE MIDLANDS 
Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 

"It is also acknowledged that since Independence, Matabeleland and the Midlands are not the only parts of the country to have suffered as the result of internal disturbances. In the late 1980s, there were human rights abuses in the eastern districts of the country, as a result of MNR bandit activity. The South African-backed, Mozambique-based MNR bandits were responsible for serious human rights abuses, particularly in Mount Darwin in the north east of Zimbabwe and in Chipinge in the south east, from 1988 onwards. While these abuses involved only small areas of the country, their effects were extremely harsh for those civilians involved. Scores of innocent people in this region were murdered, mutilated, or had to live with daily insecurity as a result of this conflict."
REPORT OUTLINE 
PART ONE - BACKGROUND 

i) Statement explaining who CCJP and LRF and BLPC are. 
ii) A Brief Chronicle of Events (1-2 page summary for reference). 
iii) A List of Abbreviations 

I.INTRODUCTION: 
a.)Political and military violence in 1980s 
b.)The Intentions of this Report - an Outline 

i.) National Acknowledgement 
ii.) Reconciliation - a Chance to be Heard 
iii.) Systematic Collation of Data 
iv) The Legacy of the 1980s for its Victims 

c.)Timing of the report 
II.DATA SOURCES AND METHODOLOGY: 

l.)Selection of Case Study Areas 
2.) Summary of Data Sources 
3.)Discussion of Data Sources 
i.) CCJP 
ii.) BLPC 
iii.) Human Rights Documents 
iv.) The Chronicle 
v.) Academic Works 

vi.) Interviews 

vii) Material Evidence 

4.)Methodology 
i.) Named Victims - HR Data Base 
ii.) The Chronicle Data Base 
iii.) Unnamed Victims - HR Data Base 
iv.) Unnamed Victims - Case Study Areas 

III.A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW: 
l.)The Legacy of the 1970s 
a.) Colonial Rule 
b.) The ZANLA-ZIPRA Split. 
2.)South African Destabilisation Policy 
a.) A Two-fold Approach 
b.) "Operation Drama" 

3.)"The Dissident Problem" 
a.) A Summary of Contributing Factors 
b.) The Dissidents' Perspective 
c.) "Super ZAPU" 
d.) Other "Dissident" Groups 
e.) Dissident numbers 
f.) Popular Support 
g.) Dissident Activities 
h.) Summary 
4.)Government Action: 1980 to 1982 
a.) The Arms Caches 
b.) Banditry Rises 
c.) Government Response 
d.) The Abduction of the Tourists 

i) Indemnity Regulations 
ii) "Dissidents" or Ordinary Civilians? 

5.)5 Brigade Mobilisation: "Gukurahundi" 
a.) The Commissioning of 5 Brigade 
b.) The Training of 5 Brigade - 198 1\2 
c.) Early 5 Brigade Exercises 
d.) Passing Out Parade 

6.)Deployment of 5 Brigade - Matabeleland North, 1983 
a.) January to March, 1983 - initial impact 
b.) Early Indications of Events 
c.) ZCBC Response - "Reconciliation is Still Possible" 
d.) Government Response 
e.) April to Dec 1983 - 5 Brigade Impact 
f.) Disappearances 

7.)5 Brigade Deployment, Mat South, 1984 
a.) Jan to May 1984 
b.) 5 Brigade - Retraining and disbandment 
c.) Exceptions to the Rule 

8.)Military Rationale for 5 Brigade 

9.)Political Impact of 5 Brigade Activities 

10)Summary - 5 Brigade 

ll.)General Background of Events - 1984 to 1988 
a.) Commission of Inquiry 
b.) The Food Embargo and Mat South 
c.) ZANU-PF Youth Brigades and Election Violence 
d.) CIO: Detentions, Torture and Political Kidnappings 

e.) PISI 

f.) Dissident Violence in 1984/5 

g.) More Detentions and ThreatenedTreason Trials 

h.) Other Events during 1986/7 

i.) The Unity Accord: Amnesty 

PART TWO - FINDINGS 
CASE STUDY ONE - NYAMANDLOVU 

1.) Archival Data 
a.)CCJP 
b.)The Chronicle: an Outline, and a Quantification of dissident atrocities 
2. interviews in 1995/6, and Integration of Sources 
3.)Summary of 5 Brigade Impact 
4.)Overview of Human Rights abuses in Nyamandlovu/Tsholotsho 
5.) Village by Village Summary - including maps of sub-regions 
6.)Tables summarisng Atrocities by Sub-region 

CASE STUDY TWO - MATOBO 
1.) Archival Data 
a.)CCJP 
b.)The Chronicle 
2. interviews in 1995/6 
3.)Overview of Events revealed by Data 
a.)A Brief Chronology 
b.)The Food Embargo 
c.)The 5 Brigade and CIO 
d.)Mass Detention 
e.)Bhalagwe Camp 
4.)Table Summarising Atrocities by Sub-region 
5.) Village by Village Summary, including Maps 

IRESULTS - ALL NAMED VICTIMS 
l.)Key - brief mention of difference in Chronicle Data Base and HR Base 
2.)Tables of Offences by Year and Perpetrator 

3.)Graphs of Tables in Two, III, with discussion of trends shown. 

4.)A Discussion of How to assess the Impact of the 1980s Disturbances, in Terms of Real Numbers of Victims 

PART THREE - DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS 
ORGANISED VIOLENCE - THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE 1980S DISTURBANCES FOR ITS VICTIMS 
I. 
a.)Definitions of Organised Violence. 
b.)Forms of Organised Violence - examples from the 1980s 
c.)Consequences of Organised Violence 
d.)Consequences of Organised Violence for Society 
e.)Relevance to Matabeleland - Conclusion 

LEGAL DAMAGES 

a.) 10 typical cases of abuse assessed for damages - suppositionary. 
IHUMAN REMAINS - THEIR POSSIBLE RECOVERY 

a.)Categorisation of types of human remains likely at this point. 
b.)Some recommendations on how best to recover them in each case, if that should prove to be the will of affected communities. 

PART FOUR - RECOMMENDATIONS 
GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS 



REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 
Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 

CHRONICLE OF EVENTS: APRIL 1980 - JULY 1990 

1980 

APR 

Zimbabwe gains independence. ZANU-PF win 57 seats out of 100 and Cde Robert Mugabe assumes leadership of the nation. 

Before and after Independence there are sporadic outbursts of violence in the vicinity of Guerrilla Assembly Points (APs) all over the country. 

JULY 

State of Emergency, in place since 1965, renewed: it is further renewed every six months until July 1990. 

OCT 

Prime Minister Mugabe enters into an agreement with North Korea for the training and arming of a brigade of the Zimbabwe defence forces. 

NOV 

There is a battle between ZIPRA and ZANLA Guerrillas, moved from rural Assembly Points to Entumbane near Bulawayo. 

1981 

FEB 

There is a second, major outbreak of violence at Entumbane which spills over to Ntabazinduna and Connemara in the Midlands. More than 300 die. 

The Dumbutshena Report is commissioned by the government to investigate events surrounding the Entumbane uprising: to date its findings have been suppressed. 

AUG ~ 

Inkomo Army Barracks are sabotaged by South African agents destroying $50 million in ammunition and equipment. 

AUG ~ 

North Korean instructors arrive to begin training the "5 Brigade", which will be used to "combat dissidents". 

DEC ~ 

South African agents sabotage ZANU-PF headquarters, killing 7 and injuring 124. 

1982 

FEB ~ 

"Discovery" of arms caches in Matabeleland leads to arrest of ZIPRA high commanders and expulsion of ZAPU leaders from cabinet. Ex-ZIPRAS defect in large numbers and banditry increases. 

JUNE- 



There is an abortive attack on Prime Minister Mugabe's residence. A ZIPRA connection is established, leading to curfews, detentions and weapon searches in Bulawayo. 

JULY- 

6 foreign tourists are kidnapped and killed, although their deaths are only confirmed years later. Curfews are imposed in Matabeleland, troop numbers and detentions are stepped up. 

JULY ~ 

Thornhill Air Base in Gweru is sabotaged by South African Agents, and 13 military planes are destroyed. 

JULY- 

Government reinstates the Indemnity and Compensation Bill first used in 1975, granting immunity from prosecution to government agencies. 

NOV 

CCJP sends a confidential report to the Prime Minister expressing concern at army excesses. 

DEC- 

The 5 Brigade has its "passing out" parade and is ready for deployment. 
1983 

6 JAN- 

The Government allows farmers to re-arm, to protect themselves against dissidents, after a spate of attacks killing 6 people on commercial farms. Between Nov 1982 and Dec 1983, 33 people will be murdered by dissidents on commercial farms. 

26 JAN - 

The 5 Brigade is deployed in Matabeleland North. Reports of atrocities begin within days. 

FEB- 

Atrocities continue and first documentation is presented to government. 

MAR- 

Nkomo is placed under house arrest and flees to Botswana. A 4 day cordon around Bulawayo leads to 1000 detentions. 

MAR - 

Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) speak personally to Prime Minister Mugabe and present their paper "Reconciliation is Still Possible". 

5 APR- 

The curfew is lifted in Matabeleland North. 

22 JULY - 

5 Brigade is withdrawn from Matabeleland for a brief retraining session. 

29 AUG - 

5 Brigade is redeployed in Matabeleland North. 

SEPT- 

Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry is set up to investigate atrocities in Matabeleland. 

1984 

JAN- 

It is announced in Parliament that since Jan 1983, dissidents have murdered 120, mutilated 25, raped 47 and committed 284 robberies. 

JAN- 

The Chihambakwe Committee begins to collect evidence of army atrocities in Bulawayo. 



4 FEB- 

A food embargo is imposed on Matabeleland South and 5 Brigade is simultaneously deployed in the region. Mass detentions follow, with thousands of civilians being incarcerated at Bhalagwe Camp in Matobo District. 

7 APR- 

ZCBC expresses deep concern over conditions in Matabeleland South. 

10 APR ~ 

The curfew is relaxed and the food embargo is lifted. 

JULY- 

It is announced in Parliament that since Jan 1984, dissidents have killed 45 civilians, raped 37 and committed 253 robberies. 

LATER 

The 5 Brigade is withdrawn and retrained and in 1985 it is redeployed in Matabeleland. 1984Pre-election violence begins, mainly at the hands of the ZANU-PF Youth Brigades. Areas notably affected include Gweru, Kwekwe, Beitbridge and Plumtree. 

1985 

ZANU-PF Youth rampages continue before and after the July elections, resulting in 2000 being left homeless and scores dead in Matabeleland, the Midlands and Harare. 

FEB - 

The CIO orchestrates a spate of detentions of ZAPU officials countrywide. Many of those detained disappear permanently. 

MAR- 

CCJP send a confidential report to the Prime Minister condemning the bullying of opposition party members. 

JULY- 

It is announced in Parliament that since January 1985, dissidents have killed 45, raped 40 and committed 215 robberies. 

JULY- 

Zimbabwe has its second General Election and ZANU-PF wins convincingly although ZAPU retains all 15 seats in Matabeleland. There is a spate of post election violence targetting ZAPU supporters. 5 top ZAPU men including 2 MPs are detained on grounds of treasonous activity. 

AUG- 

Dissidents target Shona-speaking civilians in an attack in Mwenezi, killing 22. CCJP is among those who condemn the attack. 

NOV- 

It is announced the Chihambakwe Commission's report will not be made public. 

1986 

MAR 2- 

ZIPRA commanders in jail for 4 years are released. 

DEC- 

A ZIPRA High Commander is released, to facilitate unity talks. 

1987 

JAN- 

It is announced in Parliament that during 1986 dissidents killed 1 16 civilians, raped 57, abducted 20 and committed 210 robberies. 



CCJP release a confidential report on Torture in Zimbabwe to the Prime Minister. 



FEB- 

It is announced at a rally in Bulawayo that Unity is imminent. 

APR- 

Unity talks break down. 



JUNE- 
AU ZAPU rallies and meetings are banned. 

SEPT- 

ZAPU is effectively banned: offices are raided and officials detained. 

OCT- 

Unity talks resume. 

NOV- 

Dissidents murder 16 on a mission farm in Matobo. 

DEC- 

The Unity Accord is signed by Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe. 

1988 

APRIL - 

An Amnesty is announced for all dissidents, and 122 surrender. 

JUNE- 

The Amnesty is extended to include all members of the army who committed offences before the Unity Accord. 

1990 

JULY 

The State of Emergency is not renewed. 



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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 

5B 5 Brigade 

ANC Africa National Congress 

AP (s)Assembly Point(s) 

ASS Assault 

BLPC Bulawayo Legal Project Centre 

CCJP Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace 

CIDC entral Intelligence Department (Police) 

ClO Central Intelligence Organisation 

Col Colonel 

DA District Administrator 

Detn Detention 

GSW gun shot wound 

HR Data Base Human Rights Data Base 

LCFHR Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights 

LRF Legal Resources Foundation 

Lt Col Lieutenant Colonel 

MNR Mozambique National Resistance 

PISI Police Internal Security Intelligence unit 

PV protected village 

RDF Rhodesian Defence Force 

SUS upport Unit (Police) 

UNHCR United Nations High Commission for Refugees 

WHO World Health Organisation 

ZANU-P Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front 

ZANLA Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (armed wing of ZANU-PF) 

ZAPU Zimbabwe African People's Union 

ZIPRA Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (armed wing of ZAPU) 

ZCBC Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference 

ZNA Zimbabwe National Army 

ZRP Zimbabwe Republican Police 



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REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 

Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 



PREFACE 



PART ONE: BACKGROUND 

* INTRODUCTION 

* DATA SOURCES 

* A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW 



PART TWO: FINDINGS 

* CASE STUDY ONE 

* CASE STUDY TWO 



* RESULTS: ALL NAMED VICTIMS 



PART THREE: IMPLICATIONS OF RESULTS 

* ORGANISED VIOLENCE: ITS IMPLICATIONS 

* HUMAN REMAINS: THEIR POSSIBLE RECOVERY 



APPENDIX 

* INTERVIEW FORMS 

* CCJP DATA EXAMPLES 

» THE RECONCILIATION TRUST DEED 



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REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 

Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 



PREFACE 

The writing of the current report has been possible only because Zimbabwe is currently enjoying a period of stability 
and national unity which did not exist ten years ago. The country now known as Zimbabwe has, in the last hundred 
years, had a history marred by internal conflicts: the current state of peace in the nation is unprecedented. The signing of 
the Unity Accord in December 1987 brought an end to the disturbances which this report documents. In 1990, the lifting 
of the Emergency Powers Regulations, which had been in existence since the Rhodesian Government first instituted 
them in 1965, did away with the Zimbabwe Government's extra legal powers, many of which had allowed for the 
infringement of basic human rights. 

Zimbabwe's current human rights record, while still not perfect, is better than it has ever been since Independence in 
1980. 

The disturbances documented in this report also need to be placed in a historical context. Zimbabwe did not come to 
Independence easily: the decade which preceded Independence was one which saw the fighting of an increasingly 
violent civil war, a war which cost many thousands of civilian lives and caused untold hardship and suffering. While the 
full number of casualties will never be known, it has been estimated that at least 30 000 people died countrywide, 
although real numbers of dead could be more than double this figure. Most of these casualties were in the north and 
eastern regions of Zimbabwe, or in external training and refugee camps in Zambia and Mozambique, although there was 
no region of the country that was not severely affected by the Liberation War. 

As in any conflict, damage cannot be measured in deaths alone: tens of thousands of Zimbabweans were displaced from 
their rural homes in northern and eastern Zimbabwe into "Protected Villages" (PVs), run by the Rhodesian Defence 
Forces. The relocation of people into these PVs was done in an effort to prevent rural civilians from feeding, and 
providing intelligence to, the guerrilla armies: conditions were cruel, and led to massive human rights abuses, including 
wide-spread malnutrition. The PV policy was combined with 

"Operation Turkey", the code name given to the policy of destroying crops in rural areas in an attempt to cut the 
guerrillas off from their food supplies. Needless to say, such a policy also impacted adversely on innocent civilians, 
exacerbating the starvation already being caused by life in the PVs. The placing of people in PVs was a form of state 
organised violence against civilians: no doubt many, especially children raised in such places, still suffer the mental 
consequences of this experience. 

Thousands of civilians were also detained indefinitely without trial during the 1970s, including many of those at the 
forefront of the nationalist movements, ZANU and ZAPU. President Robert Mugabe and Vice President Joshua Nkomo 
were both detained for many years. 

Thousands of young men and women who left the country to train as freedom fighters also sacrificed their own 
opportunities to gain an education, while others ended the war with permanent physical or mental disabilities. While 
there are legal mechanisms in place through which war veterans can claim help and compensation, not all ex-fighters 
are aware of this, or know how to take advantage of the law. For many hundreds, possibly thousands, of war veterans 
and their families, the hardship continues. 

It is also acknowledged that since Independence, Matabeleland and the Midlands are not the only parts of the country to 
have suffered as the result of internal disturbances. In the late 1980s, there were human rights abuses in the eastern 
districts of the country, as a result of MNR bandit activity. The South African-backed, Mozambique-based MNR 
bandits were responsible for serious human rights abuses, particularly in Mount Darwin in the north east of Zimbabwe 
and in Chipinge in the south east, from 1988 onwards. While these abuses involved only small areas of the country, 
their effects were extremely harsh for those civilians involved. Scores of innocent people in this region were murdered, 
mutilated, or had to live with daily insecurity as a result of this conflict. 

The injustices and suffering caused by ninety years of colonial rule, and in particular by the ten years of civil war that 
brought Zimbabwe to Independence, have been well documented. The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace 
(CCJP) has played an important role in this process. As one of the few independent human rights organisations active in 

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the country, CCJP played an important, politically impartial role in the 1970s: they were able to collect evidence of 
human rights abuses committed by the Rhodesian Defence Forces, and were able to publicise these abuses 
internationally. CCJP facilitated the international publication of several reports, including The Man in the Middle (May 
1975), and The Civil War in Rhodesia (August 1976), both published by the Catholic Institute for International 
Relations (CIIR) in England. Since Independence, CCJP archival information has also been used to document the 
history of the 1970s. In 1992 Reaching for Justice, a history of CCJP was published (Mambo Press), and in the same 
year a CCJP video entitled Caught in the Crossfire was released: this detailed the plight of rural Zimbabweans in the 
Liberation War. Apart from CCJP, many other individuals and organisations have also recorded aspects of pre- 
Independence history. 

This process of documentation means that a crucial period in Zimbabwean history is on permanent record for the 
generations yet to come. 

The whole southern African region is now enjoying unprecedented peace and stability. The coming of Independence in 
South Africa drew to a close the colonial history of Africa. It also began a new process of accountability, and 
highlighted the realisation that true reconciliation between people who have traditionally been opposed, is often best 
facilitated by honest public acknowledgement of the past. This process need not be vitriolic, but it is important, 
particularly to victims, to have their suffering publicly acknowledged. While the suffering caused by colonial rule is 
widely documented and internationally recognised, the suffering in 

Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 1980s is a history that is unknown except to those who experienced it at first 
hand. It is also apparent that while the signing of the Unity accord in December 1987 was an important step towards 
national reconciliation in Zimbabwe, there nonetheless remains in rural Matabeleland a deep seated mistrust of the 
Government, and a fear that events of the 1980s could be repeated in the future. 

This report acknowledges the historical context within which events of the 1980s occurred, and does not seek to 
apportion blame. It seeks merely to break the silence surrounding this phase in the nation's history, by allowing 
approximately one thousand people who have approached the report compilers in the last year, a chance to tell the 
stories they want told. It is hoped that greater openness will lead to greater reconciliation. At the same time, the report 
alone cannot result in reconciliation: it is therefore accompanied by a Project Proposal, which puts forward some 
concrete suggestions as to how the hardship caused by the 1980s disturbances can now be redressed. 



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REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 

Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 



PART ONE INTRODUCTION 



When Robert Mugabe assumed office as the first Prime Minister of Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980, he was faced with the 
task of uniting a country which had been subjected to 90 years of increasingly repressive, racist rule. There had also 
been over a decade of escalating military activity, which had served not only to accelerate the process of liberating the 
majority, but also to create some divisions within it. In addition, the new Zimbabwe had a powerful and hostile 
neighbour, South Africa. 

It was obvious that integrating a community that had serious divisions within itself would be no easy task. Mugabe 
himself had long been an assassination target, and attempts on his life continued. He escaped an attempt on his life near 
Masvingo during the election campaign. He and others narrowly escaped a "Rhodesian" assassination attempt planned 
to coincide with Independence Day in 1980. In December 1981 South African agents attempted to kill him by blowing 
up the new ZANU-PF headquarters, and in July 1982 there was yet another abortive attempt on his life, involving ex- 
ZIPRA combatants, when shots were fired at his residence in Harare. 

In addition, there were sporadic outbreaks of violence emanating from the guerrilla assembly points (APs) countrywide. 
Such outbreaks began before Independence and continued throughout the early 1980s. This violence was committed by 
both ZANLA and ZIPRA ex-combatants, sometimes against civilians and quite often against each other: the causes of 
this were complex. 

The net result of the unstable situation was that by early 1982, Zimbabwe had serious security problems in various parts 
of the country, particularly in the western half. Bands of "dissidents" were killing civilians and destroying property. 

The Government responded with a massive security clampdown on Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands. What is 
apparent in retrospect and will be shown in this report is that there were two overlapping "conflicts" going on in 
Matabeleland. The first conflict was between the dissidents and Government defence units, which included 4 Brigade, 6 
Brigade, the Paratroopers, the CIO and the Police Support Unit. The second conflict involved Government agencies and 
all those who were thought to support ZAPU. This was carried out mainly against unarmed civilians in those rural areas 
which traditionally supported ZAPU; it was also at times carried out against ZAPU supporters in urban areas. The 
Government agencies which were engaged in this second conflict were primarily 5 Brigade, the CIO, PISI and the 
ZANU-PF Youth Brigades, as shown in this report. These units committed many human rights violations, which 
compounded the plight of civilians who were once more caught in the middle of a problem not of their own making. 

The Government's attitude was that the two conflicts were one and the same, and that to support ZAPU was the same as 
to support dissidents. Rural civilians, the ZAPU leadership and the dissidents themselves all denied and continue to 
deny this allegation. Whatever the ultimate truth on that issue, it is indisputable that thousands of unarmed civilians 
died, were beaten, or suffered loss of property during the 1980s, some at the hands of dissidents and most as a result of 
the actions of Government agencies. 

THE INTENTIONS OF THIS REPORT -AN OUTLINE 



1. NATIONAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 

One of the most painful aspects of the 1980s conflict for its victims is their perception that their plight is 
unacknowledged. Officially, the State continues to deny any serious culpability for events during those years, and 
refuses to allow open dialogue on the issue. In effect, there is a significant chunk of Zimbabwean history which is 
largely unknown, except to those who experienced it at first hand. All Zimbabweans, both present and future, should be 
allowed access to this history. 



15 



Only by fully exploring how the 1980s crisis developed, can future Zimbabweans hope to avoid a repetition of 
such violence. 

It is only once all Zimbabweans have acknowledged this part of their history, that it can be put aside. The belief that 
truth and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive is the belief of those who have motivated this project. In fact, it is 
believed that lasting reconciliation is contingent on truth. 

Those who would rather that events of the 1980s should remain shrouded in secrecy have claimed that discussing them 
will "reopen" old wounds. However, it was clear during the interviewing procedure that, for thousands of people, these 
wounds have never healed: people still suffer today, physically, psychologically and practically as a result of what 
they experienced in the 1980s. Far from "reopening" old wounds, the victims' being allowed to speak out and having 
their stories validated by a non-judgmental audience has begun what is hoped will be a healing process, after more than 
10 years of people suffering in fear and isolation. 

Critics of this project have been quick to point out that in April 1980, Mr Mugabe made a magnanimous speech, in 
which he "drew a line through the past", and forgave those whites and others who had persecuted the black majority in 
the country, particularly during 10 years of increasingly bitter war in the 1970s. Why, then, it is asked, does this report 
seek to hold the very Government, which was so forgiving, accountable for its own shortcomings in the next decade? 

It is not the intention of this report that its evidence be used to hold individual human rights violators 
accountable. The report seeks rather to promote greater openness to certain truths, currently denied, in the 
belief that this will lead to greater reconciliation of communities and will help victims to rise above their 
memories of pain and any desires for retribution. 

There may be individuals not only among victims, but also among the dissidents and security agencies responsible for 
violations, who need an atmosphere of truth-telling in order to purge themselves of their memories of events. 

It also needs to be pointed out that while the perpetrators of offences in the war for Independence have not been held 
accountable as individuals, many documents exist, including a substantial body of academic books and memoirs, 
ensuring that this part of the nation's history is accessible to those who wish to know it. These have been written not 
only by those who once opposed the colonial order, but also by those who were part of this old colonial order, as well as 
by international academics. While far from complete in its documentation, an important record of events surrounding 
the Second Chimurenga has been produced over the years. For example, the names Nyadzonia and Chimoio arouse deep 
emotions in all Zimbabweans, and not only those who lost loved ones in the brutal raids on these external guerrilla 
camps. While nobody was ever held accountable for the terrible massacres, Zimbabweans have access to details of these 
events if they wish to know more. 

But many, both nationally and internationally, are unaware that the name "Bhalagwe" arouses similarly deep emotions 
for people who live in Matabeleland. It is only those in affected areas who attach significance to this name. 

That many parties were at least partly culpable in the unfolding of events is clear. These include ZANU-PF, those ex- 
ZIPRAs and others who became dissidents, those remnants of Rhodesian state agencies which sought to disrupt unity, 
and South African agents who both actively disseminated misinformation and who also trained and equipped dissidents. 

It is the intention of this report to broaden the debate on how these events unfolded, which has so far been restricted to a 
very small number of academics and human rights activists, and to allow all concerned parties to enter into healthy 
public debate over issues they dispute, so that a more complete picture of the truth can emerge. 

2.RECONCILIATION - A CHANCE TO BE HEARD 

There is a need for a deeper and more lasting reconciliation in Zimbabwe. This is only possible when the magnitude of 
the happenings in the affected areas is more widely understood by all those concerned. Only when those who inflicted 
untold hardship are prepared to acknowledge that they did so, can a lasting reconciliation take place between all who 
live in Zimbabwe. Only then can bitterness and fear finally be eased. Once the fact that thousands suffered atrocities 
during those years has been acknowledged, once fear has finally receded, then victims will feel able to speak out about 
their experiences without dreading retribution. 

What those we have spoken to in Matabeleland want more than anything else is lasting peace in Zimbabwe. 

They do not want a witch hunt, just a chance to be heard. 

16 



They have survived two terrible civil wars in as many decades, and they have received no guarantee that it will not 
happen again. Only one senior minister in the last 13 years has expressed public regret for what happened. In fact, 
ministers are on public record as saying they will never apologise. 

The single exception to this is Minister Mahachi, who said in the Sunday Mail of 6 September 1992 that: 

"...events during that period are regretted and should not be repeated by anybody, 
any group of people or any institution in this country." 

However, if mostpeople do notknow in the first instan c e what it was thathappened.and why it happened, how can a 
repetition be avoided? 

Part of the process of psychological healing for any victim of abuse, is being given the opportunity to recount that 
suffering to a supportive, non-judgmental audience. It is at least partly in recognition of this principle that truth 
commissions have taken place in other parts of the world in recent years. Those involved with taking testimony for the 
South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission have noted: 

In many instances the act of telling their stories to a sympathetic statutory body which acknowledges their pain has 
proved a cathartic one for witnesses. A common thread running through their testimonies is an extraordinary 
capacity to forgive, if they can only know the truth. 

One of the most tragic effects of events in the 1980s is that it served to harden "ethnic" differences in Zimbabwe, 
resulting in what could be referred to as "quasi-nationalism". Recent events in Sri Lanka, Rwanda and Yugoslavia 
provide sad testimony to what happens when such conflicts are not satisfactorily resolved. Recent conflicts in all these 
countries have their roots in previous, unsatisfactorily resolved internal conflicts. 

While the signing of the agreement of National Unity in 1987 was an important step towards reconciliation, there are 
many issues that still need to be aired by ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe and taken into account by its national 
leadership, if we are to prevent a recurrence of violence between future generations of Zimbabweans. 

More than a thousand ordinary citizens came forward in the last five years to relate their experiences to the compilers of 
this report. People often travelled long distances to give evidence, and waited overnight to tell their stories. For many, 
this was the first time they had been given the opportunity to have their experiences formally recorded. Many wept, or 
expressed anger, or voiced confusion as to why violence of the 1980s ever took place. 

Many expressed pain at the memory of how senior officials had refused to acknowledge events at the time: the 
disappearances of people were repeatedly denied in the 1980s, and death certificates were denied for corpses who 
officially had not been murdered. Others related how their pain at the loss of a loved family member was compounded 
by a death certificate with a fallacious cause of death filled in: for example, one murdered person had "stomach injury" 
recorded as the cause of death. 

All evidence was given entirely voluntarily, and without suggestion of reward or future compensation. The need to 
document events historically was explained as the primary intention of this report, and the desire to help set the record 
straight was apparently motivation enough for witnesses. 

While those who came forward gave evidence freely, some told of other victims who were still too afraid to tell their 
stories. That this fear was not unjustifed was borne out in our second case study area, where the CIO made what were 
perceived as intimidatory appearances at interview sessions and interrogated at least one person who helped the data 
collection process, and where certain councillors also actively discouraged their ward members from giving statements. 

According to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, enabling the victims to talk freely and not to be 
dismissed as liars without being given due consideration is an important aspect of "restoring the dignity and honour as 
well as the good names of victims". 

3. SYSTEMATIC COLLATION OF INFORMATION 

A substantial body of evidence, some published and most previously unpublished, has long been in existence detailing 
the broader historical events and the abuses suffered by individuals in the 1980s. This report aims to bring together data 

17 



collected in the 1980s, when the disturbances were taking place, as well as information from interviews conducted in 
the 1990s. 

Claims of casualty numbers have varied dramatically over the last decade, with the then-ZAPU opposition party leader 
Joshua Nkomo mentioning a figure of 20 000 dead, and other sources putting the figure as low as 700. There is a need 
to resolve these disparities by methodical investigation, in order to set the historical record straight. 

Data sources have been used to reconstruct a chronicle of events and, more importantly, to detail the reported impact of 
these events on communities and individuals. Sources document atrocities across most of Matabeleland and in parts of 
the Midlands. 

Interviews in 1995/6 were centred on two case study areas, as time and funding did not allow for comprehensive 
research across all affected areas. The case studies aim to quantify as accurately as possible, within the acknowledged 
limitations of the data available, the extent of the abuses, and their perpetrators, in the two specified areas between 1982 
and 1988. Research in the case study areas was extensive in the first targetted area, and less extensive but nonetheless 
very revealing in the second targetted area. It has resulted in a much clearer picture of the nature of abuses in these two 
areas, and in the process much evidence of atrocities in other districts has also been documented. 

While the precise number of dead will almost certainly never be known, more accurate estimates are now possible. 

Apart from murders, many other atrocities took place in Zimbabwe between 1982 and 1988, such as the destruction of 
homesteads or even entire villages, mass detentions of civilians, and the physical torture of civilians, including rape and 
the phenomenon of mass beatings. 

The findings in the two case study areas are documented in Part Two. The pattern of abuse in all areas of Zimbabwe as 
revealed by a variety of sources is also summarised in this section, in the form of tables and graphs. Part Three discusses 
some of the implications of these findings. 

4.THE LEGACY OF THE 1980s FOR THE VICTIMS 

The full scale of the impact of the civil conflict on those who survived it has yet to be forensically established. 
However, from interviews now on record, it is apparent that those years have left people with a legacy of problems 
which include physical, psychological and practical difficulties. Some of these negative legacies, as apparent from the 
data base, are listed below. - 

Families were left destitute, without breadwinners and without shelter. - 

Many people, possibly thousands, suffered permanent damage to their health as a result of physical torture, 
inhibiting their ability to seek work, or to maintain their lands and perform daily chores such as carrying water. - 

Possibly hundreds of murder victims have never been officially declared dead. The lack of death certificates has 
resulted in a multitude of practical problems for their children, who battle to receive birth certificates, and for their 
spouses who, for example, cannot legally inherit savings accounts. 

-Others who fled their homes to protect themselves were considered to have deserted their employment without due 
notice, and forfeited benefits including pensions as a result. - 

Many people, possibly thousands, who were either victims of physical torture, or forced to witness it, continue to 
suffer psychological disorders indicative of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Such disorders as unexplained 
anxieties, dizziness, insomnia, hypochondria and a permanent fear and distrust of senior government officials are 
evident in victims. Typically, such victims pass on their stress to their children and create a heavy extra burden on 
existing health care structures. 



TIMING OF THE REPORT 

The timing of the report is significant: enough time has now elapsed that many victims have been able to overcome the 
memories of fear sufficiently to tell their stories. At the same time, to have delayed any longer would have meant 
increasing difficulties in locating source documents and people. Much of this data has already been lost, destroyed, or 
thrown out: people who were involved at the time have died, moved away from Zimbabwe, or have begun to forget 
precise details, such as dates of events. This report attempts to rescue and order a substantial proportion of what 
information remains, although there are doubtless documents that have not been located. 

18 



During the 1980s, the continuing disturbances and the fact that the Emergency Power Regulations were in place, 
severely limiting freedom of movement, freedom of association and freedom of expression, made the prospect of 
actively canvassing information from victims not practical. However, in July 1990, the state of emergency was repealed 
and Emergency Powers were dropped for the first time since 1965. Also in 1990, the Bulawayo Legal Project Centre 
(BLPC) opened its first paralegal office, in Lupane in Matabeleland 

North. Almost immediately, reports of practical problems arising from events in the 1980s were brought to the attention 
of this paralegal office. People who were in need of death certificates for relatives said to have been murdered began to 
seek help. People wanting to know their rights in terms of claiming damages for losses suffered at the hands of 
government agencies also began to report their experiences. As other paralegal offices opened in other parts of rural 
Matabeleland, similar requests and reports began to come in. 

It was also apparent that the Government had decided that there would be no compensation given to people who 
suffered as a result of Government action during the years 1982/88. However, the data base reflecting the present 
consequences of events in the 1980s continued to grow. The decision to order this data base, first and foremost to 
establish an accurate historical record, and secondly to suggest ways of helping victims on the strength of it, was made 
by BLPC in conjunction with CCJP in 1993. The process of establishing funding and personnel, and the devising of 
suitable interview forms and a computer data base, took some time. 

It was in 1995/96 that the archival material was examined in detail and also in 1995/96 that interviewing took place in 
earnest in the 2 case study areas. The interviews conducted in the 1990s reflect how the years 1982/88 are currently 
perceived by the more than a thousand people who reported to project personnel. This report is therefore focussed on 
events of the 1980s both as a history and as a part of the present. 



19 



REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 

Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 



PART ONE : DATA SOURCES AND METHODOLOGY 

A substantial body of largely unpublished evidence has long been in existence detailing thousands of atrocities 
perpetrated by both dissidents and the security forces in Matabeleland and the Midlands of 

Zimbabwe, between Independence in 1980 and the Amnesty in 1988. This report has collated and analysed this 
evidence, which includes data records that were contemporary to the 1980s, as well as information from interviews 
conducted during the 1990s. 

As well as tabulating available data for all areas, this report also provides a comprehensive outline of abuses within two 
chosen case study regions of Zimbabwe. 

The report also draws attention to the legacy of practical and personal difficulties which continue to affect those who 
suffered human rights abuses in the 1980s. 

1. SELECTION OF CASE STUDY AREAS 

Archival material provided evidence that human rights abuses were widespread throughout Matabeleland North and 
South, and also at times in the Midlands of Zimbabwe. It was decided to canvas actively additional data, but time and 
funding excluded collection on a national scale. After consideration it was decided to concentrate data collection in two 
administerial districts only; Tsholotsho/Nyamandlovu in Matabeleland North and Matobo in Matabeleland South. 

Data on record made it clear that the two parts of Matabeleland had qualitatively different experiences of the 
Government action, with Matabeleland North being subjected to a massive 5 Brigade onslaught in 1983, and 
Matabeleland South experiencing an extremely long and harsh food embargo, together with mass detentions, in 1984. 
The decision as to which administrative district to target in each province was made partly with practical criteria in 
mind: the two chosen areas are near to Bulawayo, and readily accessible from it. CCJP also already had a substantial 
number of interviews from Tsholotsho on their files. The presence of Bhalagwe Camp in the second chosen area, 
Matobo, was an important selection criterion. 

The two areas targeted for the case studies were: 

1. TSHOLOTSHO/ NYAMANDLOVU: in the early 1980s, Tsholotsho Communal Land north of Bulawayo, 

2. was administered together with the more sparsely populated commercial farmland of Nyamandlovu adjacent to it. 
(This adjacent commercial farmland has since been incorporated into an administerial district known as Umgusa: 
the map of Zimbabwe on page designates district boundaries as used in this report, which in a few cases do not 
coincide with district boundaries recognised in 1996). Atrocities by Government agencies were known to be severe 
in Tsholotsho in 1983: the adjacent commercial farmland of Nyamandlovu was known to have been hard hit by 
dissidents. Making Nyamandlovu part of the case study area allowed for the inclusion of data on dissident atrocities 
in the commercial farming and forestry resettlement areas of Nyamandlovu: there was almost no information on 
dissidents forthcoming from people based in the Tsholotsho Communal Lands. 

3. MATOBO (known as KEZI District prior to the 1980s), a largely communal area south of Bulawayo, where 
atrocities were known to be severe in 1984. In particular, there was already substantial data on record of detentions, 
beatings and killings at Bhalagwe Camp, near Maphisa (previously called Antelope). 

Further evidence of atrocities in other parts of the country came to light during this process, and tables showing known 
atrocities in all affected areas can be found immediately following the two main case summaries in Part Two of this 
report. 



20 



2.A SUMMARY OF DATA SOURCES 

...reliable statistics [of human rights abuses] are extremely difficult to come 
by in Zimbabwe. It is often all but impossible to verify reports of army 
abuses. The reports one hears in Harare about atrocities committed by 
dissidents often sound indistinguishable from the reports one hears in 
Bulawayo about atrocities committed by the security forces; neither side 
acknowledges any legitimacy in the other's version of events. 

This report has sought to overcome the difficulties in collecting data on human rights abuses by relying upon a variety 
of data sources. The nature and quality of these sources are very varied and, in the case of press reports, at times 
conflicting, but together the data provide a complex picture of the 1980s conflict, and probably as complete a record as 
there is now ever likely to be. An outline of main sources follows. 

I. Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJP) archival material, collected in the 1980s. 

II. 

i: Bulawayo Legal Project Centre (BLPC) archival material, including records of legal clients, 
ii: BLPC current material: current paralegal clients with legal problems arising from the 1980s, and interviews 
conducted in the case study areas in 1995/96. 

III. Human Rights Reports, including: 

i) Zimbabwe: Wages of War - A Report on Human Rights, published by the Lawyers Committee 
for Human Rights, New York, 1986. (Referred to in this report as LCFHR). 

ii) Zimbabwe - A Break With the Past? Human Rights and Political Unity: An Africa Watch 
Report, Richard Carver, October 1989. 

iii) Amnesty International Reports and Memoranda. 

iv) CCJP Report on Torture in Zimbabwe, presented to the Zimbawe Catholic Bishops 
Conference (ZCBC), January 1987. 

IV. Media reports contemporary to thel980s, both local and international, including newspapers, magazines and video 
clippings. The most comprehensive source here proved to be The Chronicle, Bulawayo's daily newspaper. As well as 
detailing much dissident activity, The Chronicle provides useful insight into the "official view" of events, recording the 
opinions and pronouncements of Government office bearers as events unfolded. 

V. Academic research, including most notably: 

i) two conference papers written by Jocelyn Alexander and JoAnn McGregor: these are part of a 
broader collaborative research project undertaken with Terence Ranger, which will cover a wide 
range of twentieth century history in Matabeleland North. 

ii). Richard Werbner, Tears of the Dead: The Social Biography of an African Family, Baobab, 
Harare, 1992. 

VI. Selected interviews with CCJP officials, commercial farmers and others. 

VII. Medical and other material evidence: medical records and evidence from 3 sets of exhumed bodies. 

3. A DISCUSSION OF DATA SOURCES 



1: CATHOLIC COMMISSION FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE 

The CCJP provided invaluable archival files on atrocities, compiled when the 1980s disturbances were taking place. As 
data were being collected simultaneously with events occurring, CCJP accounts remain the most accurate and valuable 

21 



source, particularly in terms of dates: they also capture the horror of those years in a way less contemporary accounts 
cannot. Priests and doctors were recording events and noting the broader picture as well as the details, such as the 
movement and numbers of troops, as well as civilian casualties. CCJP files provide a firm framework within which data 
from other sources has been placed in context. 

Strict curfews prevented the movement of all civilians in Northern Matableland during parts of 1982 and in early 1983, 
and in Southern Matabeleland in early 1984. This meant that resident mission staff were among the few who observed 
closely and recorded the unfolding of events during these years. They also made strenuous efforts at the time to protect 
people and to bring an end to the atrocities. 

TSHOLOTSHO has three Catholic missions: Pumula Mission in the southwest, Magama Mission in the east, and Gwayi 
Mission in the north. In addition, there is Regina Mundi Mission, which is on the Tsholotsho-Lupane border, and whose 
parishioners are all from Tsholotsho, as there is only forestry land on the Lupane side of this border. Reports on events 
filtered back from all these missions. St Luke's Mission, which is also in neighbouring Lupane, has a hospital, and 
recorded some Tsholotsho victims among its patients. 

MATOBO has two Catholic missions: St Joseph's Mission in the south-west, and Minda Mission in central Matobo. In 
addition, there are several Catholic schools - Guardian Angel School, St Thomas School and St Mary's School, along 
the western border of Matobo and Bulilimamangwe. There are also Brunapeg, Embakwe and Empandeni Missions in 
Bulilimamangwe. Again, mission staff at all these missions monitored events in their regions and kept invaluable 
records. 

Presentation of CCJP data is of various types, and includes the following: 

1. Seventeen very detailed statements, sworn and witnessed in front of lawyers, which were prepared for the 
Government Committee of Inquiry into alleged atrocities by security forces in 1983 and 1984. These are each several 
pages long and are accompanied by copies of medical records in a few instances. In all instances they give full details of 
victims, times, perpetrators and places where events occurred. There are also other well-documented and prepared 
statements by civilians, which were not notarised, as they were not ultimately selected for presentation to the 
Committee. 

2. Detailed hospital records from mission hospitals, recording precise name, age, date of arrival, village of origin and 
the nature of injuries suffered by hundreds of victims. Injuries include evidence of beatings, bayonetings, burnings and 
gun shot wounds. There is a long statement of events in early 1983, made by a doctor at St Luke's. In addition there is 
also a long written statement from a government doctor working at Tsholotsho District Hospital, sent in February 1983 
to the CCJP and detailing information given to him by patients, as well as his own observations of events in the village 
of Tsholotsho itself. There are also details of victims beaten and shot by soldiers from a doctor at Embakwe Mission, in 
Matabeleland South in 1984. 

3. A significant data base, known as "Matabeleland Case Files", listing names and other details of approximately 1000 
victims. There are several thick interview files which contain some, but not all, of the source interviews for this data 
base. 

4. Letters written by priests at the various missions, recounting their horror at what they were witnessing and appealing 
for intervention and help. 

5. Many other letters from Catholic priests or parishioners appealing for help in locating missing family members, or 
detailing other atrocities. Some of these are written by priests resident in Bulawayo or elsewhere, who have had news of 
events affecting their friends or families in the rural areas of Matabeleland. 

6. General reports which were submitted to the Government at various times during 1983 and 1984, giving evidence of 
human rights violations by both security forces and dissidents, and appealing for a more humane approach to the 
security problem. 

7. Files with lengthy legal documentation concerning specific people detained without trial, including requests for 
information as to their whereabouts, requests for detention orders to be reviewed, requests for medical treatment for 
certain detainees. There are also other files on detainees listing page after page of people known to be in detention at 
Chikurubi, or other centres, at certain points in time. 

8. Statements taken by CCJP members based in Bulawayo in the 1980s, made by refugees from the rural areas. 

22 



Taken together, the CCJP raw data amount to well over a thousand pages, providing a comprehensive record of what 
happened in those years. 

SHORT-COMINGS OF CCJP DATA 

1. Letters or accounts written when atrocities were ongoing frequently do not name victims or informants, in order to 
protect them from further harm should the evidence be intercepted. There is one recorded instance of a person being 
murdered subsequent to making a phone call to Bulawayo reporting atrocities, and other instances in which people were 
detained and tortured after making phone-calls, and told this was the reason for their detention: concern for the safety of 
informants was very real. However, it makes it difficult to decide whether events described, perhaps by 3 or 4 different 
sources in Feb 1983, are all referring to the same set of victims or different ones. For example, there are 4 accounts 
among CCJP records of 2 pregnant girls being bayonetted to death by 5 Brigade in Tsholotsho in Feb 1983. In all 4 
accounts the victims are not named and the exact location is imprecise. This was treated as one case validated from 
several sources, probably the one given in great detail in BLPC interviews 1 146-1 168 incl. It is impossible now to try to 
validate such CCJP accounts independently. 

A conservative approach has always been taken when trying to quantify atrocities: it is always assumed accounts 
overlap unless there is a very good reason for not doing so, such as clear difference in location or timing of the alleged 
events. For this reason, many brief accounts of atrocities had to be completely disregarded as they lacked the detail to 
enable their distinction from other atrocities on record. 

2. There is often no follow up on file to a letter of inquiry about a "missing person". Many young men in particular fled 
the country for Botswana or South Africa, or moved into town with relatives, but were too afraid to write and inform 
their families, so it is possible at least some "missing" persons turned up, perhaps even years later. Many may have 
turned up in detention centres and been released, or may have joined a gang of dissidents, but there is no way of 
knowing from available evidence. 

Again, a conservative approach has been taken, so that people are not presumed missing unless the report of their 
disappearance is substantiated by other evidence suggesting they remained missing. Numbers of actual missing may 
therefore be higher than numbers given in the case studies. 

3. Information on those in detention is incomplete. Typically, all one can say is that a person with a certain name was in 
a certain jail during a certain month. Where that person was originally detained, how long he had already been in 
detention or remained afterwards in detention, and who originally detained him, are details that are usually not given. 

For example, there is a large file on Chikurubi detainees from 1985, merely listing names of those in Chikurubi at the 
time. 

Some people were in detention for 3 or 4 years, and others for a few weeks. Many were tortured. Certainly, the vast 
majority of those detained never made an official report of their detention and release to an independent body such as 
the CCJP: figures of those in and out of detention between 1982 and 1988 run to thousands, according to some sources. 

"Detention" is therefore not a uniform experience with the same implications for every detainee, and the actualities of 
every individual case, or real numbers of detainees, will remain speculative. 

4. The "Matabeleland Case Files" had some short-comings: many names were ultimately discarded as being 
accompanied by too little information to make them useful. In some cases, information consisted of a name only, with 
no clear indication of alleged offence against that person, or district or perpetrator. Other entries contained some of the 
relevant information, but not enough for this project. Entries had to be accompanied by details of at least offence and 
year to be entered into the HR Data Base. At the same time, many hundreds of entries contained full details, and 431 
victims were added to the HR Data Base from the Matabeleland Case Files. 



// ; BULAWAYO LEGAL PROJECTS CENTRE 

i) ARCHIVAL DATA 

LEGAL CASES: The BLPC original data base consisted of approximately 100 legal cases. The bulk of these cases 
involved representation of people by lawyers working for private law firms, who made their data available to BLPC. 



23 



Most clients were people who had been detained under the Emergency Powers legislation. Several involved "missing 
persons". 

ii) CURRENT DATA 

PARALEGAL CASES: Approximately another 100 cases, predominantly deaths, were brought to the attention of the 
BLPC by their paralegals who, from the time paralegal offices began opening in rural Matabeleland in 1990, started 
receiving requests from clients for help in obtaining death and birth certificates. These cases involved people from all 
districts in Matabeleland. 

INTERVIEWS: CCJP personnel had already collected many interviews from Tsholotsho residents in 1993/94, and this 
data had been incorporated straight into the BLPC Data Base. This base was extensively increased by further interviews 
in 1995/96, using the combined resources of CCJP and LRF. 

TSHOLOTSHO - data was collected in Tsholotsho on a ward by ward basis. Tsholotsho is divided into 16 
administrative wards, and all were visited in the course of 1995. Twelve visits were made, each lasting two days and 
taking in one or two wards. In most cases only one person was available to record the interviews, although on a few 
trips, a second interviewer was able to dramatically increase the number of cases processed in the short time available. 

Interviews were conducted in Ndebele, and written up simultaneously in English. Arrangements were made in advance 
with the ward councillors, who were asked to inform the inhabitants of their ward that the interviewer would be 
attending a certain central point in the ward on a certain day. Councillors and people giving evidence were told that the 
interviewer wished to collect data relating to what happened in the 1980s, to document any injuries or losses suffered by 
people during those years, whether at the hands of security forces or dissidents. 

All evidence was given entirely voluntarily, and without suggestion of reward or promise of future compensation. 
Speaking about those years was visibly traumatic for many of its victims. While those who came gave evidence freely, 
some told of other victims who were still too afraid to come forward and tell their stories. A number of key witnesses 
made appointments to speak to the researcher and then felt they could not do so, and stated that it was fear of possible 
harm to themselves that had made them reconsider. 

An examination of the data base also makes it apparent that while some victims are reportedly too afraid to speak out, 
there are others who have now told their story to various different bodies in the last 13 years. The same interviewee 
names and details of events are, in a few dozen cases, on file in CCJP archives, on BLPC paralegal files, recorded in 
interviews conducted by CCJP personnel in the early 1990s and/or recorded in interviews in 1995/96. 

In other instances, many different interviewees recount the same incidents, naming a constant list of victims, 
particularly in incidents involving substantial numbers of deaths, such as hut burnings. These collaborating accounts 
span more than a decade and are often collected from widely distanced parts of the country. 

The number of people who turned up to give evidence varied from ward to ward: in certain wards, particular councillors 
were inefficient about informing residents about the impending visit in good time. In one ward of Northern Tsholotsho, 
virtually no information was forthcoming on the first visit, and this appeared to be owing to lack of information given to 
residents. In 1996, the interviewer conducted a final series of visits to all the wards to identify some of the people who 
had been unable to give evidence the previous year. This brief trip resulted in a further 160 named victims, and once 
again, the small area in northern Tsholotsho produced very little data. It therefore seems reasonable to conclude that 5 
Brigade missed this area in their initial sweep through Tsholotsho, as the reported cases only refer to 5 Brigade passing 
through the area in pursuit of dissidents in August 1983. 

However, data collection in Tsholotsho remains far from complete: those who gave evidence in the final round of 
sessions in 1996 spoke of yet others who had not come forward. It was also noteworthy that out of all the testimonies 
collected on this last round, fewer than a dozen of the named victims were already on record. 

A total of 910 named victims in Tsholotsho was collected through these interviews, many of whom suffered more than 
one human rights violation. The interview data also indicated huge numbers of unnamed victims. A more detailed 
discussion of this can be found in "Methodology" (see section 4 of this chapter), and in the case studies themselves. 

While the data collection process was far from exhaustive, it helped provide a clearer picture of the scale and nature of 
the violations of human rights in the 1980s. 



24 



MATOBO - the process of data collection here followed a similar pattern to that used in Tsholotsho. However, time ran 
out before interviewing had been carried out in all wards. Only 10 weeks were devoted to data collection in Matobo, 
with most of this time being devoted to publicising the project and setting up sessions. The Matobo Case Study is 
therefore more of an extended pilot study than a complete record of events in all areas. Interviewing was limited to 9 
one day sessions at 6 different venues. Local councillors were not always supportive of the exercise, and in some cases 
actively undermined it, ordering people not to come forward. The CIO also put in what was perceived by the 
interviewers to be an intimidatory appearance at some sessions. In spite of this, a total of 350 named victims were 
identified, and thousands of others were implied by witnesses. 

SHORT-COMINGS OF BLPC INTERVIEW DATA 

1. Inadequate interviews: of the interviews made by CCJP personnel in Tsholotsho in 1993, approximately 50 left 
serious gaps in their accounts. Interviewees assumed local knowledge of places, which were therefore not always 
named. Interviewees would also be primarily concerned with their own experience, and so fail to provide general details 
of events on a certain day. For example, an interview might read: 

"They came and took everyone in the line to the school. They beat 
us and then they shot people dead, including my brother, named 
XX." 

Such information produces more questions than answers, and only one named victim. Fortunately, these interviews all 
referred to events in the Pumula Mission area, an area which was well covered by other data sources, in particular File 
H. 40 names from BLPC sources coincided with more comprehensive accounts of events in File H, and many other 
names coincided with events in villages documented by CCJP. Cross referencing of these multiple data sources allowed 
for a clear picture of events in the case study areas. 

A revised interview form devised by BLPC and used thereafter by CCJP personnel, provided more comprehensive data. 
This form required precise details of the perpetrator, including clothing, weapons etc, and precise details of where the 
alleged incidents took place and who else was involved or witnessed events, and caused a dramatic improvement in the 
quality of information collected. A further handful of interviewees nonetheless were unable to give adequate details, 
usually because they were now very old and forgetful, and in a very few other cases because interviewees were mentally 
confused: in these cases the interviewer always noted his assessment of the interviewee. For example, one old man 
whose child went missing in 1983 was only able to keep repeating: "I want my son." 

2. The Time Lapse: The BLPC interviews were conducted a full 12 years after the bulk of atrocities occurred in early 
1983. While people interviewed were very clear as to the nature of their loss or injury, other details were forgotten. A 
person might know that on a certain day, his entire homestead was burnt down, or that his son was killed, and remember 
the perpetrators clearly, but not know whether this event happened in February or March, or even what year it 
happened. While dates have been recorded as given, there is every likelihood that some are inaccurate. Fortunately, data 
collected closer to events (such as CCJP files) have frequently cross-referenced with data collected in 1995/96, and has 
helped clarify the timing of certain events. 

3. Rape: this remains dramatically under-reported. While CCJP reports - and The Chronicle - referred to widespread 
rape at the time, people are not willing, 12 years later, to report it. This is understandable and reflects a general 
reluctance of women to report rape under any circumstances. Many victims will now be married with families and will 
have put the incident behind them: to probe too deeply would be counter-productive. Reading between the lines, some 
interviews pointed to rape having occurred, but when interviewees were asked directly by the interviewer if rape took 
place, this was denied. The following extract is one such instance: 

"The 5 Brigade came after dark when we were sleeping. They forced their 
way into the house and asked if we had any daughters. When we said our 
daughters were only young and were sleeping, they went to the bedroom, and 
took our 2 daughters aged 12 and 14 to the forest, where they beat them for 
half an hour, then brought them home...." 

This interview was coded in the HR Data Base as a beating, not a rape, in accordance with the interviewees' assessment 
of the event. 



25 



In Matobo, men referred to widespread rape, especially in Bhalagwe, although the number of women admitting to rape 
remained far smaller than the men's accounts suggested. 

4. False Information: This of course cannot be entirely ruled out, but it seems improbable that many people would be 
motivated to bear false witness at this stage. People do not easily invent dead relatives, and were not led to believe they 
stood to benefit by doing so: interviewers were careful to point out that the data collection process was for the 
historical record only, and not for purposes of individual compensation. 

There are often more than 30 interviews testifying to events in a small area, and on occasions, some of these reports are 
made many miles away from the concerned village, by somebody who has been resettled or married away from that 
village in the last decade. It seems almost impossible for such witnesses to have colluded, so many years later and at 
comparatively short notice. There is also the obvious distress - and fear - that many people show in recounting these 
times, indicative of real, as opposed to invented, suffering. 

In addition recent interviews have often served to confirm events on record in CCJP files since the 1980s. People giving 
witness also provided full personal details, so knew they were not making statements anonymously. Some interviewees 
even submitted death certificates or medical records to the interviewer for photocopying and returning. 

5. Dissidents: Information on dissident atrocities was barely reported in Tsholotsho. Yet other sources indicate that 
dissidents were indeed a menace in the area. In particular, dissidents coerced food from villagers, and also committed 
rape. For the reasons described above, rape was under reported: furthermore, 10 years after the event, people may not 
feel it is worth specifically reporting occasions on which they were coerced into killing chickens in order to cook for 
and feed dissidents. The degree of sympathy for dissidents during those years and the role this might play in under- 
reporting, is discussed at greater length under "The Dissident Problem" in Part One, III: on the whole, there was 
apparently little sympathy for dissidents. 

Independent research in adjacent districts of Northern Matabeleland suggest dissidents did not commonly murder 
villagers, unless they were considered sell-outs, were ZANU-PF officials, or had informed on dissident movements. In 
Lupane, for instance, independent researchers estimated a minimum of 750 deaths during the 1980s, of which only 25 
were thought to have been committed by dissidents: of these 25, some were considered to have been committed by 
Government agencies in disguise. 

In Tsholotsho, among an estimated 1000 dead, a total of 18 murders by dissidents were reported to interviewers. In 
addition, 21 deaths were inflicted by dissidents in the commercial farming area of Nyamandlovu adjacent to Tsholotsho. 

There were, however, many other references to army members disguising themselves as dissidents and committing 
crimes. This phenomenon is reminiscent of the war for Independence, when the Rhodesian Selous Scouts used to dress 
and pose as members of the guerilla forces. 

BLPC DATA: EVIDENCE OF ATROCITIES COMMITTED IN THE 1970s 

While it was not the primary intention of this report to collect data on events relating to the 1970s war of liberation, 
some information on people who went missing during the late 1970s was reported both to paralegals and to those 
interviewing specifically for this report. A total of 23 such reports was made involving people who left the country for 
guerrilla training and never returned. The relatives of such "missing persons" are eligible for compensation under the 
War Victims Compensation Act (see final section of this report for more details), and these reports were accordingly 
dealt with by paralegals. 

In total, BLPC data amounted to more than 5 000 pages of raw information. 



///: HUMAN RIGHTS DOCUMENTS 

Lawyers Committee For Human Rights: Zimbabwe: Wages of War, New York, 1986. 

The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (LCFHR) has served as a public interest law centre since 1978. The 
committee works to promote international human rights and refugee law and legal procedures in the United States and 
abroad. Their Zimbabwean report was compiled after two visits to Zimbabwe in 1985 and 1986, during which 
committee members interviewed a wide range of Zimbabweans, including a large number of Government officials. 



26 



Wherever possible, information given in interviews was independently checked and verified. The final report was 
written in May 1986. 

This report provides a well-documented account of the conflict in Zimbabwe during the years following Independence. 
Its findings coincide to a useful degree with those of the current report. In addition, it provides an overview of various 
aspects of those years which it has not been possible for this project to research independently, and which would now be 
difficult to research, a decade after the events. For example, the timing and magnitude of various mass detentions and 
events in the Midlands, in particular in 1985, were well covered by LCFHR. Their scholarship is thorough and their 
estimates conservative: this is now apparent in the light of the evidence used for the present report, which indicates far 
larger numbers of dead and injured people and destroyed homesteads in the case study areas than LCFHR suggested. 

This makes the consideration of LCFHR estimates in non-case study areas seem reasonable. 

The main shortcoming of the LCFHR report is the fact it was written in 1986: the disturbances continued for a full two 
years after its publication, until the Amnesty in 1988. This means potential key interviewees were in detention, or were 
hesitant to come forward at the time: the committee therefore had to rely on Government versions of figures, for 
example of damage caused by dissidents, there being no other data source. It also means there is no information in the 
report on events during the last two years of the disturbances, including the second Treason Trial in 1986 and the wave 
of detentions that accompanied this. 

1) Richard Carver, Zimbabwe: A Break With the Past? Human Rights and Political Unity:an Africa Watch 
Report, October, 1989: 

2) Richard Carver, Zimbabwe: Drawing a Line Through the Past, Amnesty International, June 1992: CCJP 
Confidential Report on Torture in Zimbabwe, January 1987. 

3) Memorandum to the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Amnesty International, May 1986. 

All the above human rights reports contributed both to the data base and to the overall historical record of events in 
Zimbabwe in the 1980s. They added a limited but well authenticated number of named torture victims to the HR Data 
Base, and also provided names of prisons where torture and other human rights violations took place. Carver's reports 
also gave a useful insight into the human rights violations in Zimbabwe as being a partial consequence of Rhodesian 
personnel having been retained in government agencies after Independence. 



IV: THE CHRONICLE 

This report dealt with The Chronicle as a separate entity, with a separate data base of recorded victims and perpetrators. 
The picture resulting from this can be seen in Part Two, III and IV. 

The Chronicle remains one of the primary sources of dissident atrocities during the 1980s. There was without any doubt 
a serious dissident problem at the time, although it is also now clear that there were several separate groups of "bandits", 
with varying motivations. [For a more detailed discussion of dissidents, see Part One, III]. 

A total of 562 offences, committed between June 1982 and March 1988 and involving mainly dissidents but also some 
Government agencies, were identified from approximately 1500 media reports extracted from The Chronicle. Those 
media reports which did not refer to offences contained a record of public statements by Government officials and 
running details on various trials of dissidents, politicians and government agents. 

The Chronicle records many attacks by dissidents on civilians, tourists, Government construction projects, and 
Government resettlement programmes. There were also many robberies and rapes perpetrated by dissidents. However, 
certain aspects of The Chronicle's reporting suggested it was better kept as a separate entity: in particular, it was 
difficult to cross-reference the incidents it reports with other data sources. 

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS: 

1. Peasant victims are seldom named, but tend to be referred to as a number of victims: 

eg. "5 peasant farmers in Tsholotsho were killed by dissidents since the beginning of the month." As names are not 
given, nor precise villages, it is impossible to cross-reference these sorts of statements with, for example, BLPC 
interviews or CCJP data. 

27 



2. The perpetrator is almost invariably given as "dissidents" or "bandits", with very few acknowledgements of atrocities 
by security forces. It is only in instances where individual members of the security forces were prosecuted, which were 
rare, that the newspaper reported such atrocities. Most references to security force atrocities take the form of vociferous 
denials. 

3. When acknowledged, deaths of civilians at the hands of security forces are at times referred to as being "deaths in 
crossfire", implying the unintentional killing of innocents where dissidents were the target. This is reminiscent of the 
statements made by security force headquarters during the 1970s, where civilian deaths were invariably accounted for in 
this way. Of the approximately 3500 named victims on file from other sources, there are in fact only 7 interviews which 
refer to 5 people killed and 2 homesteads destroyed in genuine cross-fire. 

4. Detainees were named only if they were prominent members of society, or white. Similarly, white murder victims 
were invariably named. 

5. The political nature of the disturbances is very clear from The Chronicle reports. Speeches made by Government 
office bearers and quoted in the press, make it apparent that it was PF-ZAPU that the ruling party sought to destroy, as 
well as the handful of dissidents operating at the time. This issue of these two overlapping conflicts has been referred to 
above, and is further explored in the Historical Overview following: in general, there are many statements referring to 
supporters of PF-ZAPU and supporters of dissidents as being one and the same menace, deserving of one and the same 
fate - "to die or go to prison ", as Minister Enos Nkala, put it. The LCFHR also makes a strong case for the perception 
of the problems as being primarily political. 

6. The Chronicle lists atrocities in 2 ways. 

i) SPECIFIC REPORTS: there are weekly or monthly news reports, detailing incidents during these short time- 

spans. These could be considered "Specific Reports", as there is often some accompanying detail as to location 
and events, such as precise date and value of property stolen or destroyed from a particular store or mine. In 
articles listing "bandit" or "dissident" activities, large and small incidents are often given almost equal 
coverage. 

ii) ii) GENERAL REPORTS: The second listing of atrocities occurs in reports of speeches made in Parliament, 

stating general totals of atrocities, usually for the previous six months. These were read out as evidence for the 
need to continue the state of emergency, which had to be renewed by Parliament every six months. 

It is very noticeable that the numbers of atrocities announced in Parliament is always significantly higher than the sum 
of the Specific Reports for the same time-span [see Part VII, comparative Tables III and V page ***]. Particularly 
noteworthy here is the disparity for "murders" reported in 1986. "Specific Reports" record only 9 murders by dissidents 
in that year, while the "General Report" for 1986 refers to 1 16 civilian deaths. A further confusing factor, when 
Government statistics are considered, is the phenomenon of Government agencies committing crimes "disguised" as 
dissidents (see below). As all official information and sources for Government figures on dissident atrocities were state 
controlled, it is impossible to resolve these discrepancies now. 

7. Incidents which occur in very different parts of the country are not always clearly distinguished from each other, but 
may be listed together in one article. In fact, there were atrocities being committed by the Mozambique-based MNR in 
northern and eastern Zimbabwe during the 1980s and an analysis of Specific Reports shows that 10% of atrocities were 
not committed in Matabeleland or the Midlands. 

It is not always clear to a casual reader which events occurred where, and whether ZIPRA sympathetic or Renamo 
(MNR) dissidents, or ordinary criminals were responsible. This type of reporting seemed to confuse the foreign press at 
times: for example, in the Sunday Times of London, 6 March 1983, there is a report called "Timetable of a Massacre". 

In it, the murder of a white farmer in Chinhoyi, the raiding of an armoury in Mutare, and the murder of three British 
tourists in Nyanga are included by this foreign journalist in a list of "dissident" atrocities which he represented as giving 
some justification to the Government's decision to send 5 Brigade into Matabeleland. All the above events actually took 
place in northern and eastern Zimbabwe, and in fact, the murder of the three British tourists strongly implicated 5 
Brigade itself, which was training in Nyanga at the time. 

8. Once The Chronicle reports had been collated for all issues between June 1982 and March 1988, with victims' names 
(where possible), dates and perpetrators extracted, these were cross referred with names collated from other sources into 
the Human Rights Data Base. The Chronicle Specific Report data amounted to 562 entries, and other sources amounted 
to 3 534 entries. It was discovered that fewer than 40 names could be cross-referenced. [If time and money allowed, no 

28 



doubt many more cases could be verified: the 40 coinciding cases are merely those that overlapped without every 
newspaper reference being actively pursued.] 

Of the names and incidents that could be cross-referred, 21 involved murders by dissidents in the commercial farming 
area of Nyamandlovu. Here all data sources agreed the perpetrators were dissidents in every case. Approximately 10 
other cross-references involved the detentions of prominent ZAPU leaders, some of whom were in detention for many 
years. Here all sources agreed on obvious aspects of the detentions, such as who detained the men and when, although 
the sources may have disagreed on other aspects, such as allegations of torture of victims in detention. 

In the remaining 7 incidents, which included a bus burning, the murders of 3 chiefs in Matabeleland, a shoot-out at a 
rural shopping centre in Inyathi, and the murders of health clinic staff in a car ambush in Nkayi, there were glaring 
disparities between eye-witness accounts given to independent sources, and the official version of events as represented 
in The Chronicle. In every one of these cases, The Chronicle attributes events to dissidents, but eyewitnesses put 
forward convincing arguments that the perpetrators were in fact government agencies. 

Usual arguments for concluding that Government forces were the perpetrators include: 

i) the inability of perpetrators to speak Ndebele fluently (all dissidents were, by both the dissidents' and the 

Government's own definition, Ndebele speakers). 

ii) the fact that victims were often known to be hostile to the Government or have other political significance. For 

example, the Inyathi shopping centre shoot-out involved a prominent opposition ZAPU party member. While 
he in fact survived, seven others died, including several from the party member's family. 

iii) the police and CIO either did nothing to prevent events taking place even if they were on the scene of the 

crime, or showed no interest in solving the crimes, even when perpetrators were positively identified to them 
by witnesses. 

iv) the perpetrator was personally recognised as a specific member of a Government agency, known to the witness 

due to prior contact. On occasions, for example, members of 5 Brigade would parade as dissidents, then appear 
as 5 Brigade the next day, and punish villagers for having failed to report their own "disguised" presence the 
previous day. 

However, as previously mentioned, most of The Chronicle reports did not specifically name victims. If the reports 
which specify location of atrocity are totalled for the first case study area, The Chronicle attributes 50 murders to 
dissidents in Nyamandlovu and Tsholotsho as a whole, including murders on commercial farms. 

This is fairly similar to the total of 39 murders arrived at via the HR Data Base. However, as most of The Chronicle's 
victims in Tsholotsho are unnamed, specific cross-referring of victims is not possible. 

Reports in The Chronicle do not always indicate where murders took place, and the official view was certainly that 
Tsholotsho was a hot bed of dissident activity, which does not correlate well with the mere 14 murders in Tsholotsho 
that The Chronicle specifically identifies. The impossibility of reconciling such disparities at this stage is a major reason 
for keeping The Chronicle data separate: the two sets of data results are presented in parallel in Part Two, III, and 
readers of the report must draw their own conclusions. While dissidents are seldom regarded as perpetrators of crimes 
by villagers interviewed, The Chronicle almost never acknowledges atrocities by the army. 

In summary, it seems fair to say that while there is certainly much substance in The Chronicle's portrayal of the 
"dissident menace", there are also contradictions and apparent inaccuracies within its reports, which justify maintaining 
its data in a separate base. 



V: ACADEMIC RESEARCH 

There is very little published academic research dealing with the history of events in Zimbabwe in the 1980s. Most 
historical research still seems to be concentrated on the less politically contentious task of establishing a more complete 
picture of the War of Liberation and the colonial years that preceded the war. However, there are a few key documents 
on the 1980s which have provided invaluable background for this report. 



29 



1. Richard Werbner, Tears of the Dead: The Social Biography of an African Family, Baobab, Harare, 1992. This 
anthropological work provides a comprehensive history of one extended family, based on interviews conducted in 
1960/61 and further interviews in 1989. The "family", which consists of almost 500 people in all, is primarily located in 
Matabeleland South, in an area immediately adjacent to the second Case Study Area. This document therefore provided 
an invaluable insight into how the arrival of 5 Brigade was perceived by those in the Bango chiefdom in 1984. 

2. Key research is currently being conducted into events in Lupane and Nkayi. This research is part of a broader 
research project in which Jocelyn Alexander, Jo Ann McGregor and Terence Ranger will document the social history of 
this region for the last one hundred years. Events of the 1980s are therefore a small aspect of their research, but it has 
produced two papers of particular interest. These are: 

i) Jocelyn Alexander, Dissident Perspectives on Zimbabwe's Civil War, Seminar Paper, St Antony's College, 

Oxford, 1996. 

ii) ii)Jocelyn Alexander and Jo Ann McGregor, Democracy, Development and Political Conflict: Rural 

Institutions in Matabeleland North After Independence, presented at the International Conference on the 
Historical Dimensions of Democracy and Human Rights in Zimbabwe, Harare, September 1996. 

This research is based largely on first hand interviews with civilians, including those who were dissidents in the 1980s, 
and has been of key importance in reconstructing the history of those years. 

3. Various other academic documents have contributed to the writing of the Historical Overview in this report, 
including: 

i) D. Martin and P. Johnson, The Struggle for Zimbabwe, ZPH, Harare, 1981 

ii) D. Martin and P. Johnson, (Eds), Destructive Engagement: Southern Africa at War, ZPH, Harare, 1986. 

iii) N Bhebe and T Ranger, (Eds), Society (Vol 1) and Soldiers (Vol 2) in Zimbabwe's Liberation War, UZP, 

Harare, 1995 

iv) J Hanlon, Beggar Your Neighbours: Apartheid Power in Southern Africa, Indiana University Press, 1986. 

v)K Yapp, Voices From the Conflict: Perceptions on Violence, Ethnicity, and the Disruption of National Unity, 
Paper from The Britain Zimbabwe Research Day, St Antony's College, Oxford University, 8 June 1996. 

Other written sources were used for very specific information, for example in the chapters on "Legal Damages" and 
"Implications of Organised Violence": these references are cited in the appropriate chapters. 



VI: INTERVIEWS 

A few selected, in-depth, interviews were conducted in 1995/96 by the research coordinator, to answer specific 
questions which needed clarification after other data had been analysed. In particular, commercial farmers were 
approached, as it was hoped their evidence could shed some light on dissident activities in the case study areas. 

Remarkably little evidence of dissident presence or activities was apparent from other data sources, yet there were, 
without question, dissidents committing atrocities during the 1980s. Farmers were in fact able to confirm dissident 
atrocities in the commercial farming areas. 

A few interviews were also conducted with CCJP officials to clarify aspects of troop movements, and some gaps in the 
chronicle of events. These interviews were for general background purposes. 

Interviews were also conducted in Johannesburg in September 1996, with a few individuals who it was hoped might 
know details of the extent of South Africa's involvement in destabilising Zimbabwe in the early 1980s. These included 
two journalists, and two ANC officials, one of whom works for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. To date the 
South African role in Zimbabwean events still remains largely shrouded in mystery, although some new details are 
gradually coming to light. Hopefully more details will surface as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission continues. 



30 



SHORTCOMINGS OF INTERVIEWS 

As with the BLPC interview data, the time lapse has taken its toll on what people can now remember of events. The 
interviewer was, on occasion, more in touch with those events, having better cause to be so, than those who were more 
involved at the time. People also destroyed key documents, having felt such documents were endangering their personal 
safety during the years when house searches and detentions were commonplace. Other documents have been destroyed 
more recently, in the belief that they were no longer of interest to anyone. 

These shortcomings notwithstanding, personal interviews with people with a "larger view" of events proved very 
enlightening. 



VILMATERIAL EVIDENCE 

Project personnel established that corroborating evidence for claims of epidemic violence in 1983/84, now made by 
over a thousand victims, exists in bulk in some places: some rural hospitals have, on their admission records, listings of 
hundreds of civilians admitted to their wards during the 1980s, suffering from beatings, bayonetings, gun shot wounds, 
and burns. Some of these records have already been referred to under CCJP data above. Hospitals where such records 
are known still to exist include not only the Catholic mission hospitals but also other mission hospitals. 

The Government hospitals in Bulawayo and rural Matabeleland and the Midlands are also known to have admitted such 
patients, some of whom were referred to these better equipped hospitals, such as Mpilo in Bulawayo, by mission doctors 
unable adequately to treat seriously ill patients. Doctors who were employed in Government hospitals during the 1980s 
have independently confirmed this. The orthopaedic surgeon who was at Mpilo in the 1980s has confirmed that from 
mid-1982 onwards, he saw patients suffering from gun shot wounds. The 1982 patients were army personnel and 
"dissidents" allegedly wounded in shoot-outs. The latter were kept under armed guard in the wards. Then in early 1983 
this same surgeon became alarmed at the sudden influx to his wards of gun shot wound and assault cases affecting 
civilians: at the request of colleagues, in March 1983 he compiled a list of current patients including their names, 
injuries and treatments and submitted it to the Minister of Health. These included gun shot victims, and patients so 
severely beaten by soldiers that some later died of renal failure. He also took photographs of patients and submitted a set 
to the Minister, who insisted that the photographic negatives be surrendered too. A duplicate set of prints had been made 
by the surgeon, and these are still on file in the Nederlands, as is a complete duplicate set of these medical records. 

There are a few individual cases well substantiated by medical records, notably victims whose cases were prepared for 
the Committee of Inquiry by CCJP in 1984. 

Apart from these cases, there are currently on project files only a handful of medical records substantiating claims made 
by interviewees, although many other victims claimed to have such records, but did not bring them to the interviewing 
venue. In other cases, victims brought records with them, but there were no photocopying facilities in the rural areas 
where interviewing took place, and interviewers, having no medical background themselves, were not in a position to 
note relevant details from such records. They were also hesitant to take such records away with them, as the logistics of 
returning them to remote rural dwellers were daunting: in any case, such records were in some cases needed on a current 
basis, by people paying regular visits to clinics. 

In many other cases, victims did not still have medical records, or had never had them, having been too afraid to seek 
medical attention at the time. 

There were also very few post mortem or death certificates issued for the dead which acknowledged violent causes of 
death, although a handful of death certificates acknowledging violent deaths are on project files. 
There has been to date no large-scale, co-ordinated exhumation of the bodies of those persons whom others claim to 
have been murdered, in order to conclude independently their cause of death. However, bodies were exhumed from 
mine shafts in the Midlands and Matabeleland South in the 1990s, with coins in their pockets dating their violent deaths 
to the 1980s: bodies exhumed at Cyrene Mission in 1984 showed clear evidence of recent gunshot wounds. There is 
thus a handful of cases which have forensic post mortem evidence to substantiate the types of atrocities claimed by 
many hundreds of people. 

Other material evidence is the existence of many mass grave sites, throughout the curfew areas of 1983/84. Many such 
sites were indicated in the interviews in the two case study areas, and were also brought to the attention of report 
personnel by those doing independent research in Matabeleland North. A few such sites were actually visited by project 
personnel, to confirm their location. People in both Matabeleland North and South also refer to the way in which bodies 

31 



were thrown down mine shafts by Government agencies, and the findings in the two mines mentioned above point to 
the probable truth of this claim, and also to the possiblity of many other shafts which still contain bodies not yet 
exhumed. 

People who had homesteads burnt down have also often not rebuilt on the identical foundations to the missing huts: the 
floors and foundations of such destroyed huts are recognisable in the case study areas. 

The lack of specialised examination of such material corroboration of claimed abuses is a shortcoming readily admitted 
to by this report, which operated under severe funding and personnel constraints. It would have been unethical for 
personnel involved in this report to have tried to conduct forensic investigations, and to have thus tampered with 
potential evidence: this report seeks merely to bring to the attention of properly authorised and qualified personnel, the 
existence of material evidence which could be used to corroborate or contradict the report's claims, if the State so 
decided. 

Similarly, claims of psychological disturbances still experienced by victims of the 1980s upheavals has to remain 
inferential in this report, based on what victims themselves said in their interviews, where they frequently referred to 
insomnia, anxieties, dizziness, headaches and other possibly psychosomatic symptoms which they date as having onset 
after particular events in their lives. Inferences can also be made based on known psychological consequences, which 
have been forensically established in work with civilians who suffered similar types of trauma in Zimbabwe during the 
1970s. That those who experience psychological and physical torture suffer recognisable types of stress in consequence 
has been widely established, but to date there are no studies forensically corroborating this for 1980s victims in 
Zimbabwe. 



4.METHODOLOGY 

INAMED VICTIMS - HUMAN RIGHTS DATA BASE 

The names of victims were collected from all the above-mentioned sources. With the exception of The Chronicle data, 
names were collated in the Human Rights Data Base (HR Data Base), which included all named victims from all 
districts of Zimbabwe. 

The bulk of the named victims in the HR Data Base is from BLPC sources, with CCJP archival material providing the 
next largest number of victims. Human rights documents and academic sources provided a small number of named 
victims, whichfrequently validated names from other sources. In approximately one thousand cases, names would 
ultimately be validated from more than one source, with 3 or more confirmations occurring for more than three hundred 
victims: additional sources on any name were noted on the file print-outs. 

Each victim was categorised and had the following information recorded in a running table: 

LA NUMBER was allocated 

2. The SOURCE of data was indicated by a set of letters, such as CC for Catholic Commission, or PL for paralegal: the 
initials of lawyers, authors, or persons conducting interviews were also used. 

3. The OFFENCE was indicated by a further set of letters, with most serious offence listed first in cases of multiple 
offences. More than half of the victims suffered multiple offences, such as physical torture and detention, or death and 
homestead destroyed. A complete key for offences is given in Table One below. 

4. The NAME of the victim, including his or her surname and first names, was recorded. If the victim's own name was 
not completely indicated, the name of his or her spouse or parent was included. 

5. The DISTRICT in which offence took place. 

6. The PERPETRATOR, as alleged by interviewee. 

7.The YEAR and MONTH of the offence. 

8. The AGE of the victim was recorded, but only if the victim was under 18 years of age. 



32 



The sex of the victim was not recorded in the running table, although the distribution of male to female victims was 
separately assessed, by returning to the raw data in the case study areas. (Sex is usually apparent from the names of 
victims in any case.) 

Periodically, data were sorted by the computer alphabetically according to districts and names, including first names, to 
eliminate the same victim being listed several times from different sources. At times, more than one person with the 
same name was established as having died or suffered injury, but this was only concluded after returning to the raw 
data, to compare the complete circumstances allegedly surrounding each incident. 

TABLE ONE - CODE FOR OFFENCES 

XDead 

MMissing 

PProperty loss 

ASPhysical torture: Assault with Sticks, gun butts or blunt object 

ABPhysical torture or injury resulting from Burns 

AByPhysical Torture: Assault with Bayonette, knife or sharp object 

AGGunshot wound 

TPhysical Torture: including electrocution, water torture and other tortures not covered by 
above categories. 

DDetention 

RRape 

It will be noted that various types of physical torture have been differentiated: in the case study areas, the phenomenon 
of "mass beatings" is also dealt with as a separate entity. This is to draw attention to beating, and in particular "mass 
beating", as the preferred means of physical torture during those years, in particular by 5 Brigade. 

SUB-SECTIONS OF HR DATA BASE 

When it became apparent that the data base was going to run to several thousand victims, it was sub-divided. 

l.HR.l consisted of 2 152 entries, including all data collated up until February 1996, from BLPC and CCJP sources. 

2.HR.2 consisted of 41 1 entries, including data collated from academic and human rights sources, and two files of CCJP 
interviews conducted in the early 1990s. 

3.HR.3 consisted of a severely reduced version of the CCJP "Matabeleland Case Files", excluding all those names already 
listed from other sources and all those without sufficient details. Remaining names amounted to a further 431 entries. 

4.HR.4 consisted of 540 entries, representing all data collected from interviewing from July 1996 to October 1996. 

5.HR.5 was a temporary data base constructed by moving all named victims from Matabeleland South already listed in 
HR.l, 2 and 3 into a sub-section, to facilitate comparing of names coming in from interviews in the Matobo region in late 
1996 and being filed in HR.4, with those already on file from Matabeleland South. 

The HR Data Base, inclusive of sub-sections HR.l, 2, 3 and 4 consists of 3 534 names, inclusive of all sources and districts 
of Zimbabwe. 

The data base was closed at the end of October 1996 in order to facilitate graphing of existing data. However, data continued 
to be submitted to the BLPC, through the paralegals. Within a week of the base being closed, a further 8 deaths were 
reported to BLPC. In 7 cases, 5 Brigade were allegedly the perpetrators and in 1 dissidents were blamed. In the same week 

33 



reports came in of one gun shot wound caused by dissidents, 4 cases of property losses (2 allegedly caused by ZANU-PF 
Youth and 2 by 5 Brigade), and 2 cases of assault, allegedly by 5 Brigade. This serves to highlight once again both the 
continuing problems facing people in areas affected by the 1980s disturbances, who continue to seek legal help, and the fact 
that the data base collated for this report is far from complete. 



IITHE CHRONICLE DATA BASE 

All The Chronicle news reports relating to the 1980s disturbances were extracted, from June 1982 to March 1988. 
Information about alleged victims was entered into a data base separate from, but identical to, the HR Data Base, for reasons 
discussed already. 

As previously mentioned, these reports could be referred to as consisting of either "Specific" or "General" information. Only 
"Specific Reports" were entered into the data base. "General Reports" were treated separately (see Part Two, III for 
comparative tables and graphs). 

As victims were often not named, the given number of victims in a news report frequently had to be entered instead of 
names. The names of farms, stores and bus companies were entered, when these were available and names of actual persons 
were not given. The value of property lost was entered if specified. 

The Chronicle Data Base consists of 562 entries. 



IIIUNNAMED VICTIMS - HUMAN RIGHTS DATA BASE 

Apart from named victims, there were vast numbers of unnamed victims evident, not only from the interviews, but also from 
CCJP archival material, where victims were more often represented as numbers than names. Certain other documents, such 
as the LCFHR account, also referred at times to numbers of people injured or detained, without naming everyone. 

In addition, in all districts apart from the two Case Study districts, named victims on file were from unsolicited sources, 
either archival CCJP names, or the names of legal clients with problems pertaining to these years. Most districts are 
therefore considerably under-represented on the named data base. 

It became obvious that while it was important to keep the data base of named victims running, additional ways of assessing 
numbers of victims had to be found, if a realistic picture was to emerge. 

On the HR Data Base, a number of victims unsubstantiated by every name was therefore occasionally entered. This was only 
done when the collator was certain that those victims were not already on the data base as named victims, and where the 
source seemed reliable. For example, several CCJP archival files refer to "2 school teachers shot dead at Dete Road turn-off" 
in February 1983. No interviews of named victims on file described these conditions for any death, so it seemed reasonable 
to assume these were new victims, and to include them in the data base. On the whole, very few cases involving purely 
unnamed victims in the CCJP archives were included in the HR Data Base, because of the problem of double-counting 
victims. 

Occasionally numbers from other sources were included, such as those from the LCFHR document. This report often uses 
broad numbers to indicate people detained or injured, or property destroyed in a certain city within a given time span. For 
example, in its account of the disturbances in Matabeleland South in 1984, there is the following statement: 

An American doctor, Dave Boyd, reported that he had treated more than a 100 assault victims with 
broken bones and stab wounds at his mission hospital Tin Gwanda District] between February and 
the end of April T 19841. ^~ 

The HR Data Base had no named assault victims from Gwanda, although it had named deaths from Gwanda on record. This 
above statement was therefore entered into the HR Data Base, as "100 assault victims, Gwanda". 

Similarly, the LCFHR document refers to numbers of properties destroyed in the Midlands during the 1985 disturbances. 
Compilers of the LCFHR document actually visited some of the affected areas in the immediate wake of these disturbances, 

34 



and were therefore in a position to comment reliably. The HR Data Base had comparatively few of the Midlands offences on 
record, particularly from Silobela, so these figures were also introduced into the HR Data Base. 

The LCFHR document was well researched and substantiated, and only those figures which the compilers considered fair 
were included in the HR Data Base. If the compilers were not sure that a certain figure could be substantiated, they said so. 
For example, when commenting on the post 1985-election wave of detentions in Bulawayo, LCFHR states: 



A Zapu Spokesman... said that 415 Zapu members had been detained during the month of August, 
but this number could not be independently confirmed. Repeated attempts to obtain the names of 
those whom Zapu claimed to be in detention were unsuccessful. 

This figure was therefore not included in the HR Data Base. There are, however, some named detainees from other sources 
included under Bulawayo in the HR Data Base, supporting at least in part the contention that detentions took place at that 
time. 

The LCFHR general figures were also not included for Tsholotsho and Matobo, the 2 case study areas, because of the very 
different and more detailed way in which these two areas were analysed. 



IV UNNAMED VICTIMS - THE CASE STUDY AREAS 

As mentioned in the discussion of data sources, BLPC interviews always included the names of victims, while CCJP records 
tended to deal in numbers of victims, rather than consistently naming victims However, both CCJP and BLPC records of 
victims tended to record "village" where events took place in the case of each victim. In the two Case Study areas it was 
therefore decided to use "village" as the common parameter across data sources. In this way, it was possible to integrate 
information on both named and unnamed victims, without counting the same victim twice. 

THE "VILLAGE BY VILLAGE" SUMMARIES 

This method involved going back to all the raw data in the case study areas, and re-arranging it in terms of villages where 
offences took place, rather than in terms of overall district, or type of offence. 

The "village by village" summary of events proved to be a very productive strategy when analysing data on Tsholotsho and 
Matobo, and helped reveal broader patterns of events. The locations of army units at different times, in particular 5 Brigade, 
was also apparent with this approach. 

The presence of dissidents was also indicated, but they were comparatively rarely referred to as perpetrators. Those 
statements indicating dissidents were therefore highlighted in the summaries by ****. 

As villages were mentioned in source data, they were located on a map, and a section on every village was opened in the 
"village by village" summary. Interview data on each village was included in highly abridged form, and this data was added 
to as new details came to light. 

Total offences were included at the end of each village summary, once all data had been processed in this way. 

A conservative approach was taken when assessing numbers of victims. For example, if CCJP recorded 8 deaths in a given 
village in Feb 1983, and BLPC had 10 named victims for that village, BLPC's victims were assumed to coincide completely 
with CCJP's, and 10 deaths were considered the total. In such cases, the CCJP archival record served as corroboratory 
evidence of statements being made in the 1990s. A reading of the case studies themselves will illustrate more precisely how 
different sources were used in conjunction with each other. CCJP sources are indicated by **, while source interviews are 
indicated by their HR Data Base file number. 

As there was a high level of corroboration between sources throughout the case study areas, CCJP numbered victims were 
included for villages where there had been no information gathered in the 1990s. 

In many of the interviews conducted in 1995/96, witnesses often tended to concentrate on a few named victims, without 
specifying more general numbers of victims exactly. For example, an interview could include the comment: " besides my 

35 



father, many, many people died that day". No attempt has been made to quantify such statements: they are merely indicated 
in the Total Offence summary at the end of that village as " 1 known victim, plus others". 

PHYSICAL TORTURE 

Mass beatings of villagers was a significant phenomenon of 5 Brigade activity. Interviews and CCJP files refer repeatedly to 
its occurrence, but what this means in terms of actual numbers of victims is difficult to assess. Many interviews refer to "all 
the people in their line" being marched at gun-point to a certain point and then being beaten. 

The term "line" can mean very different things, in terms of population. Generally speaking, it refers to the way villagers 
were made to lay out their settlements when they were forcibly resettled in Tsholotsho by the colonial Government in the 
1950s and 1960s. Homesteads were literally arranged in long lines, along the dirt tracks in the area. A "line" can indicate 
anything from 3 "sabuku" areas, to an entire school catchment area, running for several kilometers. A "sabuku" is an official, 
sometimes elected, but usually inherited or appointed, presiding over usually 6 to 10 families. So a "line" could be from 
around 20 to 30 families, to at least treble this number. Each family could conservatively be estimated to have 5 members (2 
adults and 3 children), although in reality most families are larger than this. This means numbers of people present at a 
"mass beating" could be anything from 100 to several hundreds. 

The problem then still remains as to what is meant by "everyone" being beaten. In some cases, even the elderly were beaten, 
and certainly women were beaten: interviews will refer at times to the women being allowed to take turns holding the babies 
in between beatings. Children aged 12 and upwards were also frequently beaten. 
The number of villagers forced to witness mass beatings runs to thousands, and includes all age categories. 

Everyone present at such beatings was a victim of torture - either physical, if they were actually beaten, or psychological, if 
they were forced to witness the beating of others. For a full discussion of this, see Part Three, I . 
A conservative estimate of 50 present at such beatings has been made. 

DETENTION 

Detentions have proved difficult to quantify: at one level, anyone who is held at gun-point or translocated against his or her 
will can be said to have been detained, and to have experienced intimidation and trauma. At another level, there were many 
hundreds of people who were detained for long periods of time in police or army camps or buildings of one sort or another. 
Again, it is not easy now to quantify how many. 

The number of "detainees" indicated in this report can therefore be assumed to be substantially lower than those actually 
detained. 



SUMMARY 

This report makes use of all currently available sources, both archival and contemporary. These sources include human 
rights documents, legal records, academic sources and media reports. These have all been assessed as conservatively as 
possible, in order to prevent exaggerating events or double counting victims. 



36 



REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 

Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 



PART ONE: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW 

l.THE LEGACY OF THE SEVENITES 

In the last 15 years much has been written about the liberation war and its legacies: it is not the intention of this brief 
overview to re-enter this complex subject in great depth. However, some understanding of the problems facing 
Zimbabwe at Independence helps elucidate the events that followed in the 1980s. For the purposes of this summary, the 
"Legacy of the 70s" will be dealt with as two-fold: 

A.The legacy of colonial rule, which included not only a vast array of repressive legislation, designed to silence political 
opposition at the expense of human rights, but also a number of personnel in the armed forces and the CIO, who had 
committed human rights abuses in the 1970s, and who were also ideally placed to work as double agents for South 
Africa in the 1980s. 

B.The legacy of antagonism between the two guerrilla armies, ZIPRA and ZANLA. Up until Independence, ZIPRA was 
the military wing of the political party, ZAPU, which was under the leadership of Joshua Nkomo, and ZANLA was the 
military wing of ZANU-PF, which was under the leadership of Robert Mugabe. 



A) THE LEGACY OF COLONIAL RULE. 

The new Prime Minister, Mr R. G. Mugabe, was highly acclaimed for his magnanimous speech at Independence, in 
which he agreed to "draw a line through the past", in order to achieve reconciliation of all parties involved. This speech 
did much to build up confidence in all those who were outside ZANU-PF. It also enabled the new nation to maintain 
economic stability and attract investment and aid from abroad. It was perceived as an important and laudible gesture. 

This speech had been preceded by the Amnesty Ordinance 3 of 1979 and the Amnesty (General Pardon) Ordinance 12 
of 1980, both of which had been passed during the interregnum of Lord Soames. These ensured that no prosecution 
could lawfully take place for any acts done either by members of the former Government or security forces or persons 
or forces acting in opposition to that Government. 

However, the policy of forgetting the past, as well as the general amnesties granted by the Governor during the 
interregnum before Independence, meant that those who had committed crimes and human rights abuses in the 1970s, 
were not made answerable for their actions. Many of the old Rhodesian guard resigned and emigrated after 
Independence. Others remained, and in many instances became key personnel within the ranks of the Zimbabwean 
forces and secret services. Here some personnel continued to commit human rights violations on behalf of the new 
government in the 1980s, before once more being granted immunity. The message to armed personnel first in Rhodesia 
and then in Zimbabwe has remained the same for two decades: you will seldom, if ever, be held accountable for your 
actions. 

Repressive legislation can be dated back to the beginnings of colonialism, with various pass laws, tax laws, land laws 
and a myriad of other racially biased laws, all of which served to ensure the economic and educational supremacy of a 
small white elite, which was never more than 6.2% of the population, at the expense of the black majority. These laws, 
their purposes and consequences have been dealt with at length by others. One of the main results of 90 years of 
colonial laws was that ordinary blacks came to see the law as their enemy: 

It never occurred to them to seek redress of their grievances through the courts. It was absurd. 
They knew it would be fruitless, that the deck was always stacked against them. Since then, that 
attitude toward the law has remained. 

Even where awareness of possible legal redress existed among victims of abuse in first the 1970s and then the 1980s, 
fear of further retribution was an over-riding factor in keeping people away from suing government agencies. In the 
1980s, ZAPU leaders who were well aware of their supposed legal rights, were being persecuted and were in hiding. 

37 



They feared making their whereabouts known by seeking legal redress. In addition, people faced economic constraints: 
legal advice was often beyond their financial reach. 

The policy of protecting Government personnel was established during the rule of the Rhodesian Front (RF). As the war 
for majority rule intensified, so did the repressive legislation. Before UDI was declared in 1965, a state of emergency 
was announced. This gave the Government the power to legislate by regulation, rather than through Parliament. 

Regulations included the Emergency Powers (Maintenance of Law and Order) Regulations, which gave sweeping 
powers of arrest and detention without trial, the right to control meetings, and so on. Using emergency powers, the 
Government had the right to override almost all fundamental rights in existence under the Constitution, if this was 
deemed necessary to maintain law and order. 

Rights which the State could curtail under these powers included: personal liberty, freedom from arbitrary search or 
entry, freedom of exression, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of movement, and freedom from 
discrimination. These laws were used to ban political parties and meetings, detain people without trial for indefinite 
periods, and enforce extensive curfews, to mention some of their applications. 

The state of emergency had to be renewed every six months by Parliament, and remained in force from shortly before 
UDI in 1965, until ten years after Independence, being finally lifted in July 1990. During those twenty five years, 
emergency powers were used to authorise many infringements of human rights by both the RF and ZANU-PF 
governments. 

Both the RF and ZANU-PF Governments also passed indemnity laws. These were, respectively, the Indemnity and 
Compensation Act 45 of 1975, which was repealed in 1980, and the Emergency Powers (Security Forces Indemnity) 
Regulations 1982 (SI 487/1982), which fell away when the State of Emergency was lifted in 1990. 

In terms of these laws, all State officials and members of the security forces were granted immunity from prosecution, if 
their actions were "in good faith" and "for the purposes of or in connexion with the suppression of terrorism" (the 1975 
law) or "for the purposes of or in connexion with the preservation of the security of Zimbabwe" (the 1982 law). These 
laws, together with the Presidential amnesty for all dissidents and security forces declared in 1988, meant that human 
rights abusers were once more not held accountable, no matter how severe their crimes. 

In addition to inheriting a formidable array of repressive laws from the previous regime, Zimbabwe also inherited an 
army and CIO which retained some men well versed in the techniques of torture. Emmersen Mnangagwa, the 
Zimbabwean Minister responsible for the CIO in the 1980s, would point out to his visitors the old CIO members who 
had personally tortured him when the RF held power. While, on the one hand, this points to extraordinary powers of 
forgiveness, on the other hand it also could have conveyed to the old guard the message that they were not to be held 
accountable. 

The very men who had been responsible for inhuman and degrading torture in the 1970s used exactly the same methods 
to torture civilians in the 1980s. This has been well documented, by Africa Watch, Amnesty International, the CCJP 
Confidential Report on Torture (1987), and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. 

Maintaining old members of the CIO also laid Zimbabwe wide open to espionage. In fact, several members of Smith's 
CIO became double agents for the South Africans, and were in an ideal situation to inflame the brewing troubles in 
Matabeleland. 

Minister Mnangagwa maintained that he had no option but to retain the old CIO agents, as ZANLA did not have a well- 
developed intelligence unit to replace it, and the "old CIO guard" had key information in certain areas. However, 
ZIPRA had a well established intelligence unit which it was not asked to make available to the new Government, and 
consequently the unit was dismantled. 



B.THE LEGACY OF ZANLA-ZIPRA ANTAGONISM 

While it has been pointed out that too much can be made of antagonisms between, and differences in the "modus 
operandi" of ZANLA and ZIPRA, there was nonetheless a legacy of unease between the two armies of liberation and 
their respective political followings which played an incontrovertible role in the events of the 1980s. 



38 



In 1963 there was a political rift within Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU party, which until then had been the main liberation 
movement. This led to a split and the setting up of ZANU, under the leadership of Ndabaningi Sithole. The causes were 
multiple, and involved not only policy, but personal differences between members, such as Enos Nkala and Nkomo. The 
dislike between these two men in particular was to be exploited by the ZANU-PF government in the 1980s. 

During the 1970s, there were outbreaks of fierce fighting between ZIPRA and ZANLA, both in training camps in 
Tanzania, and within Zimbabwean borders. These incidents were frequent, resulted in many casualties and left a legacy 
of distrust between the two guerrilla armies. 

The training and mobilisation of ZIPRA and ZANLA also differed in some respects. While the two were united in 
wanting an independent Zimbabwe, ZIPRA was Russian-trained, and ZANLA was Chinese-trained. ZANLA had a 
policy of politically mobilising the masses by the use of the "pungwe", or night-time meetings, involving a combination 
of song, dance and politics. ZIPRA did not use pungwes. ZIPRA prided itself on superior military training, and by the 
end of the war, ZIPRA had operational tank and air units, in addition to ground forces, which ZANLA did not. ZIPRA 
also had a very well established intelligence network, unlike ZANLA. ZIPRA and ZANLA also traditionally recruited 
from different parts of the country, with ZANLA relying on the eastern half, and ZIPRA on the western parts, and also 
on black Rhodesians working in South Africa. 

ZAPU and ZANU, and their military wings ZIPRA and ZANLA were not tribalist by policy, and both Shona-speakers 
and Ndebele-speakers could be found in both groups, but increasingly regional recruitment, together with mutual 
antagonism, led to a growing association between ZAPU and Ndebele-speakers. 

Many would claim that regional antagonisms in Zimbabwe date back to the very arrival of the Ndebele in Matabeleland, 
in the middle of the nineteenth century. They believe that the Ndebele were intensely disliked and feared by the Shona, 
whose tribes were raided and whose cattle were stolen by the Ndebele. Other historians have contradicted this view of 
"the Shona" and "the Ndebele" as existing as dual tribal entities dividing Zimbabwe in the nineteenth century. 

According to these historians, the opposition of the Shona to the Ndebele is, in fact, of very recent origin and most 
significantly the product of competition for followers and leadership positions among the nationalist parties. 

The former view that such antagonism has old historical precedents nonetheless remains a prevalent one, and it took 
perhaps its most virulent form in 5 Brigade's justification of its violence as revenge for 19th century Ndebele raiding. 

The differences and similarities between ZIPRA and ZANLA, and the manipulation of popular belief about antagonism 
between "Shona" and "Ndebele" are contentious topics. Suffice it to say, first, that there were some differences between 
ZIPRA and ZANLA in training and outlook, and some negative memories of one another which added to the 
complexity of integrating the two forces into one army after independence. And, second, that divisions created by 
recruitment patterns and party loyalties played all too easily into oppositions between Shona and Ndebele speakers. 

The partial failure of this integration process is one important factor in the outbreak of disturbances in the 1980s. There 
were major outbreaks of violence between ZIPRA and ZANLA guerrillas awaiting integration into the National Army 
near Bulawayo. The first of these was in November 1980, followed by a more serious uprising in early 1981. This 
violence led to the defection of many hundreds of ex-ZIPRA members back to the bush, and the general atmosphere of 
instability and suspicion led to the concealing of arms on both sides. (Arms had also been concealed by both ZANLA 
and ZIPRA forces before they entered Assembly Points (APs) prior to Independence. They had done this as a safe-guard 
in case Independence failed, or one of the main external parties did not win the 1980 election.) 

The antagonisms between the two guerrilla armies hardened into hostilities between their political parties, as ZANU-PF 
became convinced that ZAPU was supporting a new dissident war in order to improve its standing in the country. 

ZAPU, in turn, has expressed its belief that ZANU-PF used the pretext of the disturbances as a long-awaited 
opportunity to crush ZAPU once and for all. There is no denying the political nature of events as they unfolded in the 
1980s, as the Shona-speaking, ZANU-PF-supporting 5 Brigade ruthlessly persecuted the Ndebele-speaking, ZAPU- 
supporting residents of Matabeleland. 

Indeed, one of the tragedies of the 1980s was that events served to harden regional differences along tribal and linguistic 
lines. While the Unity Agreement has, on the face of it, healed the rift, some would contend that Ndebele-speakers have 
neither forgotten nor forgiven 5 Brigade. Richard Werbner in his book, Tears of the Dead, refers to 5 Brigade as being a 
symptom of the "catastrophe of quasi-nationalism" in Zimbabwe. 



39 



Werbner states that the polarisation that occurred in Zimbabwe in the 1980s cannot be solely explained as the 
consequence of mythically hostile tribes invented by colonial settlers in their policy of divide and rule, although the 
existence of such a "history" could be seen as a necessary but not sufficient basis for what followed. Rather, quasi- 
nationalism should be seen as the product of the new Zimbabwean nation-state's struggle to assume power and moral 
authority. Werbner also argues against events being interpreted as simplistically "ethnic" in nature. 

While mainly Ndebele speaking, people in Matabeleland and targeted parts of the Midlands in 1980 were representative 
of many "tribal" and linguistic backgrounds: what they had in common was that there was widespread support in these 
regions, both historically and in the 1980 elections, for ZAPU. 

The catastrophe of quasi-nationalism is that it can capture the might of the nation state and bring 
authorised violence down ruthlessly against the people who seem to stand in the way of the 
nation being united and pure as one body.... it is as if quasi-nationalism's victims, by being of an 
opposed quasi-nation, put themselves outside the nation, indeed beyond the pale of humanity. 

In Zimbabwe in the 1980s, a certain sector in the nation had been identified as "other": the purging of this "other" 
became necessary for the purification of the rest of the nation. It is surely no coincidence that 5 Brigade was also called 
"Gukurahundi", which means "the rain that washes away the chaff from the last harvest, before the spring rains." 

SUMMARY 

In the 1980s, the ZANU-PF Government came to draw on an array of legislation from before Independence. It also 
installed personnel from the former Rhodesian intelligence services in key positions, and some of these personnel used 
their continued influence to further South African interests by destablising Zimbabwe. One of their most significant 
achievements was to enhance distrust between ZANU-PF and ZAPU and their respective military wings. Inter-party 
tension pre dated Independence, but notions of traditional hostility between the "Shona" and the "Ndebele" played into 
and were consolidated in the conflict of the 1980s. 



2.SOUTH AFRICAN DESTABILISATION POLICY 

As countries in southern Africa began to gain their independence from 1975 onwards, white-ruled South Africa began 
an increasingly coherent policy of destabilising these nations, in order to prolong its own power. Independent nations 
most notably affected by South African destabilisation in the early 1980s were Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and 
Lesotho. This policy and some of its ramifications for Africa have been admirably documented in Joseph Hanlon's 
Beggar your Neighbours: Apartheid Power in Southern Africa. As the current Truth and Reconciliation Commission 
progresses in the now democratic South Africa, further details of these events are coming to light. 

A) A TWO-FOLD APPROACH 

South African intervention in Zimbabwe in the 1980s was basically two-fold: it consisted of the systematic supply of 
misinformation to the Government, and also of military attacks on the government and on the country's infrastructure. 
Many ex-members of the Rhodesian army, police and CIO became integrated into the South African armed forces. 

Some remained in the country after Independence and actively recruited people for sabotage duties or to act as double 
agents. Some became trusted Government informers, ideally placed to exacerbate tensions between ZAPU and ZANU- 
PF by the use of misinformation. ZAPU was blamed for various events, which were in fact often at least partly the work 
of South African agents. This created an atmosphere in which distrust and dislike between ZANU-PF and ZAPU 
escalated. 

Physical attacks by South Africans in Zimbabwe included the destruction of a huge arsenal at Inkomo Barracks near 
Harare in August 1981, an attempt to kill Mr Mugabe in December 1981, and the sabotage of the Thornhill Air Base in 
Gweru in July 1982, which resulted in the destruction of a substantial percentage of Zimbabwe's Air Force aircraft. This 
last attack was probably coordinated by ex -members of the Rhodesian Special Air Services working for South Africa, 
although this has never been confirmed. Initially, local white officers (including the Chief of Staff) in the Zimbabwe Air 
Force were accused of the crime and brutally tortured. They were later acquitted by the High Court of Zimbabwe but 
were promptly re-detained and only released on condition they immediately left their country. 

40 



In addition to these major bombings, there was a steady stream of minor incidents. One of these resulted in the killing of 
3 white members of the South African Defence Force in a remote part of Zimbabwe near the eastern border, in August 
1981. They were part of a bigger group of 17, and their deaths were incontrovertible evidence of South Africa's forays 
into Zimbabwe. Of the 3 dead, 2 were former members of the Rhodesian armed forces. They were believed to be on 
their way to sabotage a railway line from Zimbabwe to Mozambique when they were intercepted and killed. 

Major arms caches which were discovered in early 1982, and which caused the final rift between ZANU-PF and ZAPU, 
were almost certainly engineered by a South African agent, Matt Calloway. Calloway was in fact head of a branch of 
the Zimbabwean CIO at the time the arms were stockpiled, although he later defected to South Africa. South Africans 
were also implicated in the timing of the "find", and in the susequent trial of Dumiso Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku. 

The kidnapping of 6 foreign tourists in July 1982 was also blamed on ZAPU and Joshua Nkomo: recent confessions by 
ex-Rhodesian CIO members now indicate that South African agents may have kidnapped and killed these tourists, with 
the direct aim of fuelling antagonisms between ZANU-PF and ZAPU. According to these South African agents, the 
operation took three weeks to plan and involved 8 ex-members of Rhodesia's notorious Selous Scouts, armed with 
Kalashnikov rifles. From the time of the tourists' disappearance, the Zimbabwean Government referred to the 
kidnapping as the work of dissidents. 

The final truth in this matter has yet to be established: this latest report and those who now make this claim may well 
prove to be unreliable, but convincing evidence either proving or disproving the claims may come to light in the course 
of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 



B) "OPERATION DRAMA" 

"Operation Drama" was the South African code name for the undercover support of Zimbabwean dissidents. It was 
carried out under the direction of Col Moeller and Col Jan Breytenbach. 

Operation Drama's primary role was the formation and funding of "Super ZAPU". This was a small band of dissidents, 
recruited from refugee camps in Botswana and trained in four camps in the Transvaal. Super ZAPU operated in 
southern Matabeleland in 1983 and 1984, exacerbating the security situation already in existence. Precise numbers of 
Super ZAPU and the degree of material support offered by South Africa to Zimbabwean dissidents remain largely 
conjecture, although it is clear the Zimbabwean operation was far less extensive than those in Angola and Mozambique, 
which operated concurrently. 

Those interviewed about the South African involvement in Zimbabwe all commented that it is noteworthy that far less 
is known about South Africa's military destabilisation policy in Zimbabwe than about its Mozambique or Angolan 
operations. The lack of available knowledge suggests that fewer personnel were entrusted with information about 
"Operation Drama", which in turn suggests that the Zimbabwean operation was not only smaller, but regarded as more 
highly sensitive. 

SUMMARY 

South Africa's policy of simultaneously destablising Zimbabwe by military means, while blaming ZAPU for the actions 
of South African agents whenever possible, helped escalate the irrevocable breakdown between ZAPU and ZANU-PF 
in the early 1980s. This in turn led to the decision of Zimbabwe's Government to retain the State of Emergency 
throughout the 1980s, and more significantly, to impose massive troop numbers and restrictive curfews on 
Matabeleland. 



3."THE DISSIDENT PROBLEM" - AN OVERVffiW 

AA SUMMARY OF CONTRIBUTING FACTORS 

Factors contributing to the growth of dissident numbers are complex. The relative importance of these factors has been 
variously highlighted in existing accounts of these years, depending in part on the implicit agenda of researchers, and in 
part on their sources. 

Some explanations as to why dissidents became an entity, include: 

41 



1. The view of the Government and ZANU-PF that the dissidents were actively sponsored by ZAPU leaders, who 
were hoping to gain through renewed fighting what they had failed to gain in the elections. 

2. ZAPU's view, that the heavy-handed Government reaction to the dissident issue, and its targeting of ZAPU as 
solely responsible, expressed a long-held desire either to punish ZAPU, or crush ZAPU totally and create a one 
party state. 

3. The well established view that South Africa exacerbated events by training and funding dissidents, known as Super 
ZAPU, with the intention of disrupting the newly Independent Zimbabwe. 

4. The dissidents' view, that they were driven to desert the National Army by the persecution of ex-ZIPRA members 
within its ranks, and that once outside the Army, they found themselves further persecuted and on the run. 

While there is evidence to support the last three views, at least in part, to date there is no documentary or material 
evidence to support the contention that ZAPU leadership concretely supported or instructed the dissidents, apart from an 
abundance of Government rhetoric at the time, insisting on links between ZAPU and dissidents. Two lengthy treason 
trials, one in 1982 and one in 1986, both failed to prove ZAPU-dissident collusion. 

The political and military violence of the 1980s resulted in huge losses for the citizens of Zimbabwe, in terms of human 
life, property, and economic development in affected areas. The dissidents themselves became answerable for this in no 
small measure, and are certainly known to have committed deeds of heinous cruelty against their fellow Zimbabweans 
during these years. Civilians who lived in the rural areas and came into contact with them describe them as "cruel, 
uncontrollable, leaderless". Their activities led to the abandonment of around 200 000 hectares of commercial farmland 
in Matabeleland, the murders of scores of civilians, the destruction of many homesteads, and scores of robberies. 

At the same time, the dissidents were few, numbering no more than around 400 at their peak, and experiencing large 
numbers of deaths, captures and desertion. It is also now clear that many dissidents consider themselves to have been 
driven to lead the lives of fugitives by the partial failure of the Army's integration process, and the persecution of all 
former ZIPRAs as the conflict escalated. 

Whatever the initial causes of the rising numbers of "dissidents", the Government certainly had a serious security 
problem on its hands by mid-1982. The situation needed a military response, but unfortunately, the Government used it 
to launch a "double edged conflict" in Matabeleland. The first offensive was against the dissidents, and involved the use 
of various ZNA units and the Police Support Unit. However, the Government also launched an offensive against the 
ordinary civilians of Matabeleland, through 5 Brigade: this served both to increase dissident numbers and to exacerbate 
the plight of those most vulnerable to the dissidents. These two conflicts escalated into what has been called, including 
by Government itself, a "civil war". While there is little love for dissidents in the memories of those who lived with 
them, it must be acknowledged that it is 5 Brigade that people remember with the most intense hatred and fear. 



B) THE DISSIDENTS' PERSPECTIVE 

One contributing factor to escalating dissident numbers, according to the dissidents themselves, was the ZNA's initial 
failure successfully to integrate ZANLA and ZIPRA into one army. The task facing the ZNA at Independence was 
unprecedented: its role was to integrate three armies, all of which had long-standing animosities towards each other, and 
form one army with a conventional military background. 

The animosities between ZIPRA and ZANLA have already been dealt with. Not only did these two antagonistic forces 
have to integrate with each other at Independence, but they had to be integrated with the existing Rhodesian Defence 
Forces (RDF), which had fought to preserve white supremacy in Zimbabwe. There were obvious long-standing political 
and military antagonisms between the RDF and both the guerrilla armies. 

From the time of the negotiated ceasefire in Zimbabwe, ex-guerrillas were held in Assembly Points (APs) throughout 
the country, from where they were gradually integrated with the RDF, or demobilised. Many ex-guerrillas from both 
sides resisted entering the APs, fearing the consequences, or rejecting the negotiated outcome to the war. In the APs, 
after Independence, there were several minor skirmishes between ZANLA and ZIPRA forces in different parts of the 
country, and also outbreaks of bad behaviour in the vicinity of the APs, as ex-combatants spent long months waiting for 
integration to take its course. 



42 



In February 1980, The Chronicle reported approximately 200 guerrillas roaming the north west, campaigning for ZAPU 
and committing crimes. In Nkayi and Gokwe, in northern Matabeleland, there was a group of ZIPRAs operating under a 
man called "Tommy", who had been renowned for refusing to obey the ZIPRA High Command structure in the 1970s. 

In addition, there was a group of ZIPRAs in Tsholotsho who refused to enter the APs, as they rejected the ceasefire. In 
May and June 1980, 400 ZIPRA guerrillas were rounded up in Northern Matabeleland and taken to Khami Prison near 
Bulawayo. 

ZANLA was considered as much of a problem as ZIPRA, if not a worse one, in these early months. ZANLA was 
involved in armed attacks in Mutoko, Mount Darwin and Gutu. Both sides were involved in the concealing of weapons 
outside the APs. 



i)TROUBLE AT ENTUMBANE 

At the end of 1980 only 15 000 out of 65 000 ex-combatants had been integrated into the Army, and the decision was 
made to remove some of the remaining ex-combatants into housing schemes near the major centres. Under a rehousing 
scheme in Entumbane, a suburb of Bulawayo, ZIPRA and ZANLA found themselves living in close proximity to each 
other, and also with ZIPRA's civilian supporters. 

Coinciding with this development, in November 1980 there was an inflammatory speech by Enos Nkala, a Government 
minister, in which ZAPU was referred to as the enemy. This contributed to the first Entumbane uprising, in November 
1980, in which ZIPRA and ZANLA fought a pitched battle for two days, before being brought under control by ZIPRA 
and ZANLA commanders. Five hundred more ZANLA soldiers were moved to Entumbane, and ZAPU officials were 
arrested. 

The fighting between ZIPRA and ZANLA was not restricted to Matabeleland, but led to deaths in holding camps in 
Mashonaland as well. 

In February 1981, a second outburst of fighting started in Entumbane, which spread to Ntabazinduna and Glenville, in 
the vicinity of Bulawayo, and also to Connemara in the Midlands. ZIPRA troops elsewhere in Matabeleland North and 
South headed for the city to join the battle, and Prime Minister Mugabe called in former RDF units to quell the uprising, 
but not before more than 300 people had lost their lives. 



ii)THE DUMBUTSHENA REPORT 

The Government instituted a Commission of Inquiry into events surrounding Entumbane, 
conducted by the then Chief Justice Enock Dumbutshena. However, Mr Mugabe complained 
about its findings, and the Dumbutshena Report has never been made public. 



iii)ARMY DEFECTORS 

The Entumbane uprising led to mass defections of ZIPRA members from the APs. Defectors interviewed in the 1990s 
have stated they saw their decisions to leave the APs as life-preserving, or alternatively as reflections of their 
disillusionment with their experiences in the APs. Some of this disillusionment was with what was perceived as a 
political bias in the army towards favouring ZANLA, especially where promotions were concerned. ZIPRA members 
also commented on the growing number of ZIPRA soldiers who seemed to be "disappearing" under mysterious 
circumstances from army ranks, and to a growing paranoia among ZIPRA members, who, for example, began to 
imagine plots to poison them in the army. It was thus disillusionment and fear, rather than any strong political 
motivation, that led ZIPRA soldiers to defect from the army and hence to a life on the run. 

Those who defected took their weapons with them, and armed banditry increased. The "discovery" of large arms caches 
in Matabeleland in February 1982 had major political repercussions for ZAPU. The ZANU-PF leadership now openly 
accused ZAPU of planning an armed revolt, to make up for ZAPU's comparatively poor showing in the 1980 General 
Elections. ZAPU Cabinet Ministers Nkomo, Chinamano, Muchachi and Msika were dismissed from the Government, 

43 



and ZIPRA's former military leaders Dumiso Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku were arrested with four others, and 
subsequently tried for treason. The High Court later acquitted all the men on the treason charges, and referred to 
Dabengwa as "the most impressive witness this court has seen in a long time" and "the antithesis of [a personl scheming 
to overthrow the government". 

However, Dabengwa and Masuku and the four others were re-arrested and held in detention for many years. 

The seriously ill Masuku was released in March 1986, to die in April, and Dabengwa was released in December 1986. 

The harsh treatment given to ZAPU leaders in the wake of the finding of the arms caches - at least some of which were 
later found to have been planted at the instigation of white former members of the CIO working as South African agents 
- convinced many more ex-ZIPRAs that they could not expect fair treatment if they remained in the APs or in ZNA 
units. Many - possibly thousands - of ex-combatants deserted at this time: the exact number remains speculative. 

The perception among ex-ZIPRA soldiers that they were being increasingly persecuted as 1982 progressed, led to more 
defections. For example, six dissidents made the decision to leave the ZNA after their company commander announced 
in Lupane, in the late 1982 search for dissidents, that he would kill "dissidents" - meaning former ZIPRA guerrillas - in 
the company first. 

By the end of 1982, there were many hundreds of ex-ZIPRA soldiers who had deserted the ZNA for one reason or 
another, and the availability of weapons in the bush helped snowball dissident growth. At first, dissident operations 
were piecemeal, and complicated by the existence of Super ZAPU, although how active Super ZAPU was, in particular 
in Matabeleland North, is still partly a matter of conjecture. They appear to have used southern Nyamandlovu as a 
corridor into the country at times, but whether they committed any crimes in that area or further north is not clear. 

The Government increasingly used the anti-ZIPRA and anti-ZAPU rhetoric which had become apparent as early as 
1980, and there was a change in semantics at this time, so that all armed robberies in Matabeleland became referred to 
as the work of "bandits" or "dissidents". There were also repeated speeches by Government officials linking ZAPU to 
dissidents. 

In addition, from 1982, ex-ZIPRA combatants - and not just deserters - increasingly faced persecution: ex-ZIPRAs who 
had been formally demobilised and those still in the army were increasingly subjected to arrest and harrassment. 

Detention camps were established at St Paul's in Lupane, at Tsholotsho, at Plumtree airstrip, and at Bhalagwe in Kezi, 
where the CIO interrogated ex-combatants. Within army battalions, tensions ran high: ZANLA and ZIPRA each 
suspected the other of concealing arms, and ZIPRA members noticed the escalating arrest and disappearance of cadres 
from their ranks. 

The response of ZIPRA ex-combatants and ZAPU officials to this was varied: many fled the country to become 
refugees in Botswana or Zambia, or to find work in South Africa, and some formed bands of armed dissidents. Some of 
those who fled to Zambia were assisted by the UNHCR to escape to various European countries, while others were 
pursued and killed by Zimbabwean Government agents. Those who left frequently lost property left in the country, and 
many have never returned. According to Alexander: 

...interviews with ZIPRA guerrillas consistently indicated that their persecution at this time, 
rather than the political rift, was the key in causing mass desertions. Many felt they had little 
choice but to flee or take up arms again to save their lives. 

The dissidents themselves reveal that the 1980s war was one with no clear goal or direction. In the words of one 
dissident: 

"... in the 1980s war, no one was recruited, we were forced by the situation, all of us just met in 
the bush. Each person left on his own, running from death." 

Another researcher who has interviewed dissidents in the 1990s, recorded comments which confirm the idea that self 
preservation was the strongest motive ex-ZIPRAs had in becoming dissidents. 

"We wanted to defend ourselves personally. Our lives were threatened." 

44 



"Apart from defending ourselves, there was very little we wanted to achieve." 
"We were threatened. That was why I decided to desert." 

Those who deserted or demobilised with the simple intention of going home to start their lives again found themselves 
driven away by the arrival of 5 Brigade. 

"They were hunting ex-ZIPRA members.. .and if they found [them], they killed those people." 

"If you say that you have been in the army, they would take you." 

"Some of us who demobilised, thought it best to return home because at least you could live in 
your own house. But little did we know that we were coming to a much worse situation. I did 
not even have time to spend my demob money before I had to leave to go to this second war.... 
Since you were a demobilised ZIPRA ex-combatant, they would immediately find you guilty 
and level you [ie kill you] as a dissident." 

In direct contrast to the Government's claims that dissidents were being supported by ZAPU, dissidents express a sense 
of "abandonment by their leaders, who were often in jail or who actively dissociated themselves from, and condemned, 
their activities." At the same time, the dissidents "maintained their loyalty to ZAPU and tenaciously clung to their 
liberation war identity as ZIPRA guerrillas." This loyalty expressed itself in the attempts of the dissidents to echo 
ZIPRA command structures and ethics, even though they lacked high level political or military leaders and were few in 
number. 

iv)OPERATIONAL ZONES 

In late 1983, the dissidents divided Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands into three operational regions, in accordance 
with ZIPRA principles. The existence of Super ZAPU was a factor which encouraged the other dissidents to organise 
themselves along the lines of ZIPRA command structures, in order to help undermine and separate Super ZAPU from 
themselves. The regions were as follows. 

1. The Western Region, mainly Tsholotsho and Bulilimamangwe, which ran from the Victoria Falls railway line to the 
Plumtree railway line, and was under the command of a dissident called Tulane. 

2. The Northern region, mainly Kwekwe, Lupane and Nkayi, which ran from the Victoria Falls Bulawayo railway line 
east to Silobela, and was under the command of three successive dissidents, first Gilbert Sitshela, then Mdawini, then 
Masikisela. 

3. Matobo, Insiza, Gwanda and Beitbridge formed the Southern region, from the Plumtree railway line east to 
Mberengwa. One dissident interviewed commented that a Matobo unit was allowed to make contact with this southern 
structure only in 1986, because of fears of Super ZAPU. This region was under the command of a man called "Brown" 
in 1987. 

Each region had a commander and a few platoons of 15 to 30 men, with sections of around five. 

The dissidents faced operational problems: shortage of ammunition was a major concern, and this in turn led to a 
defensive strategy, with most dissident activities being restricted to night-time attacks or forays into villages for food, 
followed by hurried retreats and then lying low during hours of daylight to avoid being detected by troops. "What is five 
bullets against an army?" commented one dissident. 

The dissidents' commitment to seeing themselves as ZIPRA throughout this time, in spite of the absence of direct 
instruction from ZAPU, was instrumental not only in the swift demise of Super ZAPU, but also in the quick and orderly 
surrender after the Amnesty, when the dissidents obeyed the call of senior ZAPU officials that they should lay down 
their arms. 



C.SUPER ZAPU 

45 



Super ZAPU was the group of South African backed dissidents, which operated in Southern Matabeleland from late 
1982 until mid-1984. Super ZAPU consisted of probably fewer than 100 members who were actually actively deployed 
in Zimbabwe. They were largely recruited from refugee camps and led by ex-ZIPRA members, who had been retrained 
in South Africa, in the covert operation known as Operation Drama. A Zimbabwean Government briefing paper on the 
situation in 1983 conceded "the recent efforts of the Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland have offered the South Africans 
another highly motivated dissident movement on a plate". Some sources claim that it was once again Matt Calloway, an 
ex -member of the Rhodesian CIO who acted as a double agent for the South Africans, who was a key player in the 
campaign to recruit from Dukwe Refugee camp in Botswana. 

While they operated, South Africa provided ammunition for Super ZAPU, and some of this found its way to other 
dissident groups in the country: arms and ammunition used by dissidents frequently indicated South Africa as the source 
of origin, particularly during 1983. Super ZAPU were also directly responsible for the deaths of white farmers in 
southern Matabeleland, during their time of operation. 

However, other dissident groups treated them with suspicion because of their South African link. "We said we don't 
want to be UNITA", was the comment of one ex-dissident, who saw a connection between Super ZAPU and South 
Africa's involvement in the civil war in Angola. Loyalty to ZAPU ideals by local dissidents contributed to the fact that 
Super ZAPU was comparatively short-lived. By mid-1984 Super ZAPU was collapsing, partly as a result of clashes 
with other dissident groups, and also because of official military response and complaints to South Africa from the 
Zimbabwean Government. 

Apart from its role as a destabilising force, Super ZAPU probably also played a minor anti-ANC role. Since the 1960s 
the ANC had used Matabeleland as one entry point to South Africa, and placing Super ZAPU in Matabeleland would 
have helped provide a buffer zone against their infiltration. 

While some sources contend that Super ZAPU had a brief revival in 1985, evidence in support of this is not well 
substantiated. 



D.OTHER "DISSIDENT" GROUPS 

The ex-ZIPRA dissidents could be characterised as being motivated, in 1980, by political disgruntlement, and by 1982, 
mostly by the desire to escape persecution. 

Super ZAPU were those who sought to destabilise the country at South Africa's behest. 

There were also dissidents who were not ex-ZIPRA, although they might have had similar motives. Those fleeing 
persecution included not only ex-ZIPRA soldiers, but other 5 Brigade target groups such as ex-refugees and ZAPU 
youth. Most of these became refugees in Botswana, but some joined groups of dissidents. 

A few others who became dissidents were motivated by revenge, especially in the wake of the "Gukurahundi", or 5 
Brigade massacres. 

Some were criminals capitalising on the situation, to rob and plunder. These dissidents were not necessarily ex-ZIPRA 
members, and it is possible that some of these did not surrender at the Amnesty. 

There was a final group of what has been referred to as "pseudo dissidents", including the gang led by Gayigusu in 
Matabeleland South, which was responsible for the murder of 16 missionaries in November 1987. This gang was 
allegedly the personal "hit squad" of politically powerful ZANU PF officials in this part of the country. They were 
summoned by local squatters engaged in a land dispute with the missionaries who were trying to evict them. Sixteen 
men, women and children were axed to death. 

It is difficult to estimate numbers of those who were perhaps more correctly criminals than dissidents, particularly as it 
seemed to suit Government statistics to attribute every armed robbery in Matabeleland during the 1980s to dissidents, 
while such events were attributed to criminals when they occurred elsewhere in the country. (See comments on The 
Chronicle in section on Data Sources). 

However, after the Amnesty in March 1988, the official position became reversed at times: the Government no longer 
wished to view certain crimes which had at the time been called "dissident", as the work of dissidents. The trial of a 

46 



man who allegedly murdered two German tourists in 1987 is an example of this policy reversal. While the crime was 
referred to as the work of dissidents at the time, and the accused considered himself to be a dissident, and therefore 
exempt from sentencing under the terms of the Amnesty, the State urged that he be viewed and sentenced as an ordinary 
criminal. He was in fact found guilty of criminal rather than dissident activity and sentenced to death accordingly. 

This was a heinous crime, but there was no evidence of theft. The ambush was clearly an act of terror, and others who 
committed similar crimes went free, such as Gayigusu who headed a gang responsible for murdering 16 missionaries in 
Nov 1987. This case serves merely to illustrate the way in which officialdom would use or abandon the label 
"dissident", depending what suited their purposes at the time. 



E.DISSIDENT NUMBERS 

The numbers of dissidents were probably no more than 400 at their height. Their attrition rate was very high, with 
approximately 75% being killed, captured, injured or fleeing to Botswana. At their peak, dissident numbers in 
Matabeleland South were around 200, but by the Amnesty this had been reduced to 54. In Matabeleland North, 
dissidents numbered around 90 at most, but again, by the Amnesty, only 41 remained. 

In western Matableland, dissidents numbered 90 at their peak, and around 27 at the Amnesty. Ultimately, only 122 
dissidents would turn themselves in, countrywide. It is possible that a handful of people who were more correctly 
criminals than dissidents, and who had committed similar crimes, did not surrender at this time. 



F.POPULAR SUPPORT 

Dissidents frequently point out that, in direct contrast to the war for liberation, they had very little popular support in the 
1980s. This they attribute to the comparative strength of the forces against them, and the dissidents' inability to protect 
civilians who fed them from being persecuted in turn: "quite the opposite: their activities drew Government crackdowns 
in which civilians suffered greatly." 

In addition, while civilians had been prepared to suffer to protect the armed comrades when liberation was the clear 
goal, there was no perceivable long or short term benefit for civilians in helping dissidents in the 1980s. In 1981, 
dissidents were sometimes greeted with sympathy, when they told how they had been persecuted in the army. 

However, sympathy deteriorated rapidly, partly because of ZAPU policy regarding dissidents, 
partly because of the disrespect and violence with which dissidents treated local people, and 
partly because some blamed the dissidents for the heavy costs to civilians of the government 
repression which followed. 

While the dissidents themselves did not fear 5 Brigade much, considering it to be an inefficient fighting unit dedicated 
to killing civilians, the local population feared the Brigade greatly. Locals therefore gave help only with reluctance, or at 
the point of a gun. The dissidents were particularly resented for their insistence that villagers kill chickens, a luxury 
food, to provide them with relish: they also raped young women. When help was given, the dissidents did not perceive 
this help as politically motivated: "They gave us support knowing our lives were at stake". 

Interviews in the case study areas make it clear that civilians saw themselves as once more "caught in the middle", as 
they had been in the 1970s liberation war. On the one hand, if they supported dissidents, they were likely to be 
punished, detained or killed by 5 Brigade or other army units, but if they refused this support, or if they reported 
dissidents, they were likely to be punished or killed by the dissidents. This phenomenon is marked in the resettled 
villages of Nyamandlovu. (See "Village by Village Summary", under Eastern Nyamandlovu, page ). Here dissidents 
burnt out 2 resettled villages. 5 Brigade saw the smoke, and drove over. The dissidents escaped, but villagers were left 
to face interrogation by 5 Brigade, resulting in the only death in this incident. There are on record from Tsholotsho, 
interviews which report people being beaten or killed by 5 Brigade for going to 5 Brigade camps to report the presence 
of dissidents in their area. 

In Matobo too, especially in Khumalo Communal Lands, civilians reported how they often found themselves trapped 
between dissidents who demanded food and returned on subsequent occasions making ever more violent threats about 

47 



what would happen to any villagers who reported their presence. Several families fled the area for Bulawayo or 
Botswana, rather than face the continual dilemma of what to do about the dissidents. 



G.DISSIDENT ACTIVITIES 

It is very difficult at this stage to quantify clearly the full extent of the damage caused by dissidents, because of the 
biased nature of press reporting at the time, and the fact that Government agencies such as 5 Brigade and the CIO were 
committing human rights violations concurrently, sometimes in the guise of the dissidents. 

It is, however, generally accepted by all parties that dissidents were responsible for all the murders of white farmers and 
their families in the 1980s. Between late 1982 and the end of 1983, 33 farmers or their family members were murdered. 

While the impact of dissidents on civilians in the communal lands was perceived as less harsh by far than that of 5 
Brigade, the impact of the dissidents on the small commercial farming communities was dramatic. For example, in 
Nyamandlovu, which lies in the first Case Study area, ZIPRA had been responsible for killing only one white farming 
couple in Nyamandlovu during the 1970s, but in the 1980s, dissidents killed 21 people in this commercial farming area, 
inclusive of farmers, their families and at times, their staff. Many farmers sold their ranches, or moved their families 
into nearby Bulawayo for protection, leaving productive farmland idle. 

Nyamandlovu farmers themselves say they believe their farms provided a convenient corridor for dissidents wishing to 
get from parts of Zimbabwe further east or north, back to Tsholotsho or Botswana in the west. Farms here are huge, 
frequently 5 000 hectares or more, and being mainly ranchland, they are not labour intensive. It would therefore have 
been comparatively easy for dissidents to travel through the remote parts of the ranches without being detected. Farmers 
believe dissidents did travel to and fro, keeping a low profile in between their ambushes. 

Dissidents themselves talk of using the commercial farms as "hospitals" for their injured. However, the problem in 
staying for any length of time on these farms was lack of access to food and water. 

Dissidents were also responsible for severely disrupting normal activities in Matobo commercial farming areas, where 8 
deaths were reported by The Chronicle as having occcurred on commercial farms in this district. In addition, farming 
equipment was frequently burnt out, and livestock killed. In June 1982, a cattle sale was raided by dissidents, who stole 
$40 000. 

There were also other murders of commercial farmers, apart from those in the two case study areas - see Tables in Part 
Two, III for more detail. Some of the murders were committed by Super ZAPU, particularly in the southern and south 
western part of Matabeleland. These murders involved the deaths of men, women and children. 

Its seems likely that most of the multiple murders and ambushes were committed by a few bands of dissidents, while the 
rest of the dissidents confined their activity to petty crimes. For example, on 5 October 1983, The Chronicle reports the 
arrest of a gang of 5 dissidents, part of a larger gang which is linked to the murders of twenty eight commercial farmers 
and their families: these murders occurred in Gwanda, Bubi, and Nyamandlovu, and included the murder of Senator 
Paul Savage. This latter murder was attributed by D. Martin and P. Johnson to Super ZAPU on ballistic evidence, which 
in turn implies that these 28 murders may all have involved Super ZAPU. 

Minister Simbi Mubako is also quoted in the above-indicated news report as having said it is "extremely difficult" in 
some cases to determine which people had died at the hands of dissidents and which had been killed by out and out 
criminals. 

Apart from the murders on commercial farms, dissidents also murdered civilians in the communal areas, although they 
did not appear to do so as a matter of course. Those murdered were often villagers regarded as "sell-outs", who were 
believed to have informed the security forces of dissident movements. The dissidents also targeted ZANU-PF officials, 
in a retaliatory gesture for the large numbers of ZAPU officials being arrested or murdered by Government agencies 
during these years, and also as a protest against the ZANU-PF role in repressing civilians in Matabeleland North. 

Exactly how many people were murdered by dissidents in the rural areas will remain speculation. 

Government figures would place the murdered in the region of around 700 to 800. But in areas where fairly exhaustive 
research has now taken place, these high casualty claims are not borne out. In Tsholotsho, for example, fewer than 20 
murders of civilians are blamed on dissidents by residents, and in Lupane, around 25 murders are attributed to them, 

48 



although this figure includes some murders in which witnesses believed the true identity of the perpetrators to be 
Government agents in disguise as dissidents. There was a further handful of dissident murders in Nkayi. Yet 
Matabeleland North was allegedly a hot bed of dissident activity. 

In Matobo, the second Case Study area, The Chronicle specifically reports the murders of 30 people in the district: this 
figure includes the 16 missionaries murdered, and several commercial farmers and their families, well over half this 
total figure. Civilians in the Communal Lands interviewed in 1996 attributed 11 murders to dissidents, between 1982 
and 1987. Most of these were in Khumalo Communal Lands, a mountainous region where dissidents could readily 
conceal themselves from pursuing troops. In this area certain notorious dissidents were well known to villagers and 
greatly feared and hated. These included the "pseudo dissident" Gayigusu, and also "Fidel Castro", "Danger" and "Idi 
Amin". All these dissidents are referred to by name in The Chronicle at different times. 

While murders of civilians in rural areas were not common, those that occurred were often exceedingly sadistic, as the 
following testimony shows. 

CASE 2611 ABy, 2612 X 

DISTRICTrNkayi 

PERPETRATORrDissidents 

TIMErNovember 1985 

WITNESSrWife of murder victim 

VICTIM: 47 year old farmer, married with 8 children - murdered: 

wife - wounded with an axe and beaten 



49 



REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 

Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 



PART TWO - FINDINGS : CASE STUDY I (Section 1) 

NYAMANDLOVU, INCLUSIVE OF TSHOLOTSHO: THE VDLLAGE BY VDLLAGE SUMMARY: 
INTEGRATION OF NAMED AND UNNAMED VICTIMS 

CONTENTS 

1 . Archival Data - The Chronicle, including quantification of dissident atrocities 

2. Data Integration Data Integration - CCJP Archives and Interviews in 1995-6 

4. Summary of 5 Brigade Impact on Tsholotsho 

4, Overview of Human Rights Abuses , Nyamandlovu/ Tsholotsho 

5. Village by village summary of events, incorporating maps of sub-regions 

D Pumula Mission - western Tsholotsho 
2.) Mbamba Camp - southern Tsholotsho 
3.) Central Tsholotsho 
4.) Northern Tsholotsho 
5.) Commercial farms in the south 

6.) Commercials farms, forestry and resettlement in the east. 

6. Table summarising atrocities by sub-region 

Data Sources and Methodology in Part One deals in detail with the data collection and collation process in the 2 case 

study areas. To summarise, data used consists of archival CCJP material, information extracted from the media, 

academic studies, and interviews conducted in the 1990s. All of these sources are archival, apart from the interviews: 

these latter serve to illustrate not only the past, but current perceptions of the past and current consequences of past 

events. 

l.ARCHIVAL DATA - THE CHRONICLE 

A summary of events specifically in Nyamandlovu/Tsholotsho), as revealed by The Chronicle, 
Bulawayo's daily newspaper, is given here. This tends to highlight dissident activity, and is a 
useful counterpoint to data from other sources. 



1981 

FEB 

50 



The second outburst of fighting between ZIPRA and ZANLA forces spills over into Nyamandlovu, where army units 
loyal to the Government intercept columns of ZIPRA troops heading for Bulawayo from Gwayi in the north. 

APR 

Two people are shot dead near Khami, and a third is injured, by "armed men". 

1982 

17 MAY 

A Nyamandlovu farmer is ambushed by dissidents and sustains a gun-shot wound. Two days later a lorry driver is shot 

and killed near Godzo, in Tsholotsho. In the same month, a farmer's wife drives through a dissident ambush but is not 

injured. 

JUN 

Dissidents rob a bus, a beer garden and 4 stores in Nyamandlovu. They also burn out 2 resettled villages in 

Nyamandlovu, leaving 75 families homeless. "One woman" is also killed. 

4 JUL 

The manager of Grant's Sawmills, Nyamandlovu, is shot at by dissidents - no injury. 

13 JUL 

A police auxiliary constable is shot and injured at Hillmiles store. 

23 JUL 

A local farmer drives through an ambush at the 76 km peg on the Victoria Falls road (in Nyamandlovu), does not stop 

and sustains no injury - perpetrators, dissidents. 

23 JUL 

Six foreign tourists stop when ambushed at the 76 km peg on the Bulawayo Victoria Falls road, in Nyamandlovu, and 

are abducted. 

AUG2 

mine-workers are shot dead 20 km north of Bulawayo. 7 off-duty soldiers are lined up against a wall in Ngoma beerhall, 
Nyamandlovu, and are bayonetted: 5 die and 8 are wounded - by dissidents. Three buses are robbed, and so are "stores", 
all in Nyamandlovu. 

4 SEP 

2 Swiss tourists witness a shoot out between security forces and dissidents, 90 km north of Bulawayo. 

A curfew is imposed on Northern Matabeleland, banning buses and private vehicles in the 
communal areas, and banning reporters. 

OCT 

Dissidents rob a bus in Nyamandlovu. 

DEC 

There are several incidents involving dissidents. In Tsholotsho, Z$2 million of Government equipment is destroyed. In 
Nyamandlovu, 6 people including 2 children are shot dead in a farm ambush, on 31 December. One unnamed villager 
and 2 named villagers are also reported murdered by dissidents in Nyamandlovu. 

1983 

6 JAN 

The Government agrees to allow farmers to re-arm, to protect themselves against dissidents. They had all surrendered 

their weapons at Independence. 



26 JAN 



51 



Stringent curfew regulations are introduced: at the same time, 5 Brigade is deployed into the region, and begins to work 
its way northwards, through Tsholotsho, into Lupane and Nkayi. 

MAR 

An elderly commercial farming couple and their 2 young grand-daughters are brutally beaten and then shot by 
dissidents on their farm in Nyamandlovu. 

5 APR 

The curfew is lifted. There are repeated ZANU-PF rallies in Matabeleland in February, March and April at which 
people are warned not to support PF ZAPU, and dissidents are paraded, declaring their PF-ZAPU allegiance. More than 
20 000 PF-ZAPU supporters surrender their cards and join ZANU-PF. 

MAY 

A forestry commission ranger is murdered and another abducted by dissidents in Chesa Forest Area, Nyamandlovu. 

JUN30 

youths in Nyamandlovu are reported abducted by dissidents, and are rescued. 

NOV2 

men are reported murdered by dissidents in Nyamandlovu. 

1984 

JUN 20 dissidents kill one person and beat others, in Tsholotsho 

SEP 

An unnamed boy is reported as being killed by dissidents, another as kidnapped, while unnamed, unnumbered 
"workers" are beaten and property burnt, in Nyamandlovu. 

OCT 

Inquest into the murder in Feb 1983 of 2 men and 2 women, whose car was stopped on the Bulawayo - Victoria Falls 
road by four 5 Brigade soldiers. The inquest finds them reponsible for "exceedingly cruel" murder. (LCFHR p 40) 

NOV 

Jini Ntuta, ZAPU MP, is reported murdered by dissidents. Other sources later attribute his murder to CIO (LCFHR, 

BLPC interview). 

1985 

MAR 

One woman is reported murdered and 9 injured, by dissidents 

JUL 

Dissidents burn a bus in Nyamandlovu. 

SEP 

Dissidents burn out a school complex, and kill one person, in Nyamandlovu. 

OCT 

A commercial farming couple and their foreman are shot and killed by dissidents. Dissidents also kill 3 villagers and 4 
Zanu-PF party officials in Tsholotsho. 

1986 

There are no press reported incidents involving dissidents/armed men/ bandits specifically designated as occurring 
anywhere in Matabeleland North, including Nyamandlovu, in 1986. 

1987 

JUN 

2 German tourists are shot and killed in Nyamandlovu, by dissidents 



AUG 

52 



A Nyamandlovu farmer on his way to a cattle sale is shot dead with his militia man, by dissidents. 
DECUNITY 

1988 

EARLY 

Amnesty is announced for dissidents, and then for security forces. A total of 122 dissidents surrender. 

QUANTIFYING DISSIDENT OFFENCES 

According to The Chronicle, dissidents murdered a total of 50 people in the Nyamandlovu/Tsholotsho region. 

These totals are fairly similar to BLPC interview tallies, which indicate a total of 39 murders either by dissidents or 
"armed men". 

BLPC data also refers to 5 crossfire incidents in which 4 villagers are killed and 3 sustain gun shot wounds in shoot 
outs between dissidents and security forces: whether dissident or ZNA bullets are responsible is not clear. 

The Chronicle specifies a total of 30 assaults by dissidents in Nyamandlovu/Tsholotsho. 

Specific news reports also identify as taking place Nyamandlovu/Tsholotsho the following: 2 rapes; 31 abductions; the 

theft or destruction of 94 properties. 75 of the property offences involve the burning of homesteads on a mine in 

Nyamandlovu, and the destruction of Z$2 million-worth of government equipment, being used to build dams in the 

area. 

BLPC and CCJP data refer to 32 assaults by dissidents on civilians in Tsholotsho, invariably related to people being 
accused of being "sell-outs". They also record 3 gun shot wounds and 3 incidents involving mutilations. These totals are 
again very similar to The Chronicle, which suggests civilians are not inclined at this stage to protect dissidents, and 
reported their offences to project personnel. 

Other BLPC interviews make reference to dissidents, often in passing, when villagers are beaten by 5 Brigade after 
being forced at gun point to feed dissidents the day before. 

2.DATA INTEGRATION - CCJP ARCHIVES AND INTERVIEWS IN 1995/96 

There is a vast amount of information in CCJP files on events in Tsholotsho. For a complete outline of what forms such 
information takes, see CCJP as a data source in Part One. CCJP data remains invaluable and is more reliable than most 
other sources where dates are concerned. Details given in the archives have frequently served to confirm accounts given 
in interviews in 1995/96. 

A total of 910 named victims in Tsholotsho was collected through interviews, many of whom suffered more than one 
human rights violation. For an outline of the interviewing procedure in Tsholotsho, see Part One, II, page 

Data from both CCJP archives and recent interviews were integrated in a "village by village summary", with village as 
the common parameter, allowing for the integration of named and numbered victims, without their being counted twice, 
once with and once without a name. 

The "village by village summary" of events proved to be a very productive strategy when analysing data on Tsholotsho, 
and helped reveal the broad patterns of events. In addition to facilitating the quantification of atrocities and their 
perpetrators, this method also revealed the location of Army units at different times, in particular 5 Brigade. Tsholotsho 
was therefore divided up into approximately 4 parts, to correspond with the concentration of 5 Brigade in the various 
parts of Tsholotsho. In fact, as is clear from the summaries, 5 Brigade reached most villages in the area, and camped in 
small groups in many different locations: the 4 rough divisions indicate location of larger units and interrogation 
centres, from which patrols appear to have set out. In addition, the rest of Nyamandlovu was divided into 2 sections, one 
consisting largely of commercial farms in the south, and the other of the forestry areas in the east. 

The sub regions of Nyamandlovu are: 

1. Western Tsholotsho, around Pumula Mission 

2. Southern Tsholotsho, around Mbamba Camp 

3. Central Tsholotsho, including Tsholotsho Town and Dhlamini Rest Camp to the west 
4. Northern Tsholotsho, around Gwayi and Sipepa. 

53 



5. Commercial farms in the south. 

6. Forestry, resettlement and commercial farmland in the east. 

MAPS 

A map of Nyamandlovu, inclusive of Tsholotsho Communal Areas, begins the "village by village" summary, showing 
the areas into which the entire region has been divided for the purposes of this summary, and indicating the major 
centres. 

Five larger scale maps of Nyamandlovu, corresponding to the divisions in the text, have been included in the body of 
the "village by village" summary. These indicate not only the villages but also the general type and number of offences 
experienced in the vicinity of each village. Approximate numbers killed, beaten or having homesteads burnt is thus 
visually represented on the maps. 

Three of these maps show Tsholotsho Communal Land and its rough divisions into four parts. The other two maps show 
commercial farmland, and the forestry and resettlement areas in Nyamandlovu. 

3.SUMMARY OF 5 BRIGADE IMPACT IN MATABELELAND NORTH 

The commissioning, training and deployment of 5 Brigade has already been dealt with in detail in Part One of this 
report. To summarise, 5 Brigade was deployed in Matabeleland North in January 1983, coinciding with the imposition 
of a severe curfew in the region. Thousands of atrocities, including murders, mass physical torture and the burnings of 
property occurred in the ensuing 6 weeks. 5 Brigade was withdrawn for a month in the middle of the year, then 
redeployed. Disappearances and detentions became more common than other offences. Mbamba Camp in the south of 
Tsholotsho is frequently referred to as a detention centre. 5 Brigade was mainly deployed in Matabeleland South in 
early 1984, although a platoon of 5 Brigade was in Matabeleland North at this time too. However, there was no curfew 
in force in Matabeleland North in 1984, and 5 Brigade activities were centred on the southern half of the country. 

The presence of the 5 Brigade in an area in 1983 meant an inital outburst of intense brutality, usually lasting a few days, 
followed by random incidents of beatings, burnings and murders in the ensuing weeks, months and years. It meant that 
any community which had once experienced 5 Brigade lived in a state of intense anxiety and fear, unsure where and 
when it might strike again, or who its next victims might be. 

The terror and insecurity throughout the region also led to many hundreds of people, especially young men, fleeing to 
urban centres such as Bulawayo, or to Botswana. To stay in the area if you were a young man meant almost certain 
victimisation by 5 Brigade, who assumed that all such people were ex-ZIPRA and therefore dissidents. 

Many communities suffered massive material loss in the initial onslaught, losing huts and granaries. They also lost 
village members who had been killed or abducted, and were frequently forced to watch others close to them dying 
slowly from injuries sustained from beating, burning, shooting or bayoneting. Villagers were warned not to seek 
medical help, and risked being shot for curfew breaking if they did seek help. 

Many who were beaten were left with permanent disabilities, ranging from paralysis, blindness, deafness, miscarriage, 
impotence, infertility, and kidney damage, to partial lameness and recurring back and head aches. These injuries have 
left victims with impaired ability to work in their fields or do any of the heavy labour, such as carrying water, on which 
survival in the rural areas depends. Inability to work in the fields is a recurring theme in interviews. 

In addition to the physical injuries, it is clear from interviews that large numbers of people in Tsholotsho suffered some 
degree of psychological trauma, leading in extreme cases to insanity, and in many cases to recurring depression, dizzy 
spells, anxiety, anger, or a permanent fear and distrust of Government officials. 

Wives were left without breadwinners. Children were left without one or both parents, and with the trauma of having 
witnessed appalling violence against those they loved. Families were left without the consolation of truly knowing the 
fate of their kin, or their burial places. 

Communities were left to deal with the trauma of having seen their parents, husbands and community leaders harmed 
and humiliated. 

Many families have had to face practical problems arising from the number of dead for whom death certificates were 
never issued. This has meant problems gaining birth certificates for children, or drawing money from bank books in the 
name of the deceased. Other people who fled employment in the area, in order to protect their lives, have been denied 
pensions for having broken their service without notice. 

54 



4.0VERVIEW OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES - NYAMANDLOVU / TSHOLOTSHO 

DEATHS AND DISAPPEARANCES 

Deaths have been assessed in terms of both sex and age of victims, with 3 age categories being used, for each sex: 

MALE: 83% of all deaths 
FEMALE: 17% of all deaths 

MALE: 

Under 20 yrs: 4% of all deaths 
Aged 20 - 60 yrs: 70% of all deaths 
Aged over 60 yrs: 9% of all deaths 

FEMALE: 

Under 20 yrs: 4% of all deaths 
Aged 20 - 60 yrs: 9% of all deaths 
Aged over 60 yrs: 4% of all deaths 

Men aged between 20 - 60 yrs are of 'breadwinning age' (ie 70% of all dead). However aprroximately 30-40% of them 
can be assumed to have had no dependants, as many had just returned from the war and had not yet married. Many 
others, at the top end of this age group, had fully grown children. 

This means between 42% and 50% of all those killed can be assumed to have had dependants. 

In addition, a few of the women killed were widows with dependants, whose children were henceforth orphans. Around 
2% fall in this category. 

Total Breadwinners killed is likely to be around 45% of total deaths. 

In terms of current figures on Nyamandlovu/Tsholotsho: 

TOTAL Deaths: approx 900+ 

BREADWINNERS Dead: approx 400 

The vast majority of these were self-employed farmers, who supported themselves from their fields and occasional 
labour on surrounding farms and in nearby towns. 

PROPERTY LOSSES: HOMESTEADS BURNT: 

This constitutes the largest category of property loss reported. 

Reported burnt: 345 homesteads, with others implied. 
(Involves burning of 26 villages either entirely or substantially) 

BEATINGS: 

This is the largest category of offence, involving both isolated beating incidents and also at least 60 incidents in which 
most or all villagers in a village were beaten. Both men and women were beaten, with no obvious preference for beating 
men in the mass beatings. Preference was sometimes shown to the elderly, who would be beaten less severely or not at 
all. 

Individual or small group assaults: 314 

Mass village beatings: 70 villages 

Mass railway siding beatings: 4 

If approx 50 villagers is assumed per mass beating, 3 400 villagers can be estimated to have been beaten. 

55 



Most common beating technique: People would be forced to lie face down on the ground, and then would be repeatedly 
beaten, often for several hours, with thick sticks or gun butts. 

Most common complaints: 

Permanent back\arm\leg\neck\hand aches, inhibiting any heavy work. 

Fractured fingers\arms and other bones 

Permanent scarring of buttocks and back 

Recurring headaches, dizziness and high blood pressure 

Permanent eye damage and hearing disorders 

Jaw damage including loss of teeth 

Permanent uterine disorders 

Permanent kidney damage, also male impotence 

For a region by region breakdown on all offences, see Summary following the Village by Village Reports, page . 
5.THE VILLAGE BY VILLAGE SUMMARY - DETAILING OF INCIDENTS ACCORDING TO TIME AND 
PLACE. 

NOTE: 

Numbers in brackets: indicate source numbers of BLPC interviews from which information was derived. 

** indicates source document is in a 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 Organisation (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 standardised in accordance with the 1975 Surveyor 
General's map of the Nyamandlovu region (Sheet SE-35-15). 

5.1.PUMULA MISSION AREA (WEST TSHOLOTSHO) 

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 ( eg 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. 

56 



NESHANGO LINE (next to Ningombeneshango Airstrip): 

3 FEB 1983: Mass beating of villagers and shooting of 2 young pregnant girls, followed by their being bayonetted 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. 

(1 146 - 1 168 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-ZIPRAs 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:l 

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 

57 



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:l 

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 

MPILO: (due west of Tankahukwe) 

OCT 82: ZNA took the store-keeper and killed him and assaulted his wife. (3264/5) 

JAN 83: 2 men from here were killed by 5B because they ran away when they saw 5B coming. (3262-3) 

Dead: 3 

Beaten: 1 

TANKAHUKWE (7 km SW of Pumula Mission) FEB 1983: 

All the villagers were rounded up and severely beaten. 12 were selected and shot after being forced into 2 mass graves. 

One of the chosen managed to run away, so his younger brother was killed instead. 5B came back in 1984 and stabbed 
the escapee to death, also severely beating another brother at this time. Another villager who was badly beaten ran away 
but died later of his injuries, (file H has all names, also 295, 297, 312, 324, 455, 3264-6) 
Dead: 14 
Beaten: 50 est 

EGOMENI (5 km almost due west of Pumula Mission): 

FEB 1983: Villagers were rounded up and beaten. 5 were then shot and buried in one grave. (301-2, 321) 

A villager was shot dead in February and then had his hut burnt down. (461). 

One villager killed trying to return to work in Harare (314) 

Another villager was abducted in a truck as a dissident and shot at a nearby farm (483) 

Another villager was killed in the Sonqinyana area. (463) 

13 FEB 83: One villager shot at dawn at his home. (460) 

FEB 83: woman shot dead by 5B who also burnt the homestead. (461) 

** CCJP case files report 1 named death here, could be 1st incident. 

A man was also detained and never seen again here, February 1983. (319) 

Missing: 1 

Dead: 10 

Beaten: 50 est 

58 



MAZHOU: (near Egomeni?) 

FEB 83: 4 villagers were abducted to the bush, and were tortured with sticks and knives. One villager attacked his 

assailant, allowing another to escape. 3 were then killed, (file H) 

Dead: 3 

Beaten: 1 

ST WILFRED'S SCHOOL ( Pumula Mission area) 

2 FEB 1983: Some of the ex-ZIPRAS in this area ran away in January. The mothers of 2 were tortured for "parenting 
dissidents", and were then shown 5 men including their sons. These 5 were taken to Tsholotsho town, and 2 weeks later 
one returned, with serious gunshot wounds. He had climbed out of a mass grave in which he had been shot with many 
others, and had made his way home. He died a day later. (609-1 1) 

Dead: 5 plus possibly others 
Beaten: 2 plus possibly others 

MANALA: (West of Pumula Mission, resettled) 

29 MARCH 1983: 1 beaten, bayonetted, finally killed the next day, and his body burnt, by 5 Brigade. (1230) 

Dead: 1 

SALANKOMO ( approx 5 km NW of Mission): 

**28 JAN 1983: 20 5B soldiers came in the morning and killed the village ZAPU chairman and 2 schoolboys, one aged 

14. They were beaten in front of the villagers first, and all the adults present were also beaten. (Comm of Inquiry 

Statement, also file H). 

**28 FEB 1983: same soldiers rounded up people in the village and put 2 men, 7 women, 2 with babies, and 3 children 

into one hut. They set fire to the hut, and the men inside forced the door open. As the 12 ran out, 6 were shot and killed 

including a baby and a girl, and 1 was shot and left for dead. 

**CCJP has on record the Medical Cards and Comm of Inquiry statement of the victim who suffered a GSW to the 

stomach in Feb 83 incident - records start from May 83 by which time wound is very infected, (file A, also file H) 

Two more homesteads were burnt at a later date. (BLPC 338-9, 457, 3274-5) 

Dead: 9 

GSW: 1 

Beaten: 5 plus possibly others 

Homes burnt: 3 known 

NDAWANA (6 km west of Pumula Mission): 

FEB 83: 2 villagers from here were curfew breaking and their tracks were reported by villagers from Egomeni nearby, 

who did not know who they were. 5B prepared to beat and destroy all at Egomeni, and had already dug mass graves. 

However, the 2 from Ndawana were caught before this happened, and they were killed instead, (file H, also 3273-6). 

The soldiers then moved to Ndawana, where the commander ordered the whole village into a hut and set fire to it. Once 

the commander left, another 5B soldier let the villagers out of the hut, so they were spared, (file H) 

MARCH 83: an old man from here was taken to Pumula Mission, tied to a tree and forced to make animal sounds. 5B 

also killed his ox. (3272) 

Dead: 2 

Tortured: 1 

Burnt: 2 homesteads 

SOLONKWE: (4 km north west of Pumula Mission, now resettled) 

**JUNE 1983: CCJP Comm of Inquiry report of 22 villagers including women and children burnt to death in a hut, 

after being brutally beaten first. The owner of the hut begged for the lives of his 4 youngest children to be spared, and 

this was allowed, although the life of an older daughter was not spared, (file A, file H also refers, also 316-17, 322, 462) 

Dead: 22 

Burnt: 1 hut 

PELANDABA (west of Pumula Mission): 

29 JAN 1983: 5B rounded up many men from the area, tortured them until they couldn't walk and shot them. File H 
names 8 victims, **CCJP case files also reports 1 1 other named deaths here in 1983, probably same day, and 1 death in 
1984. BLPC names 2 more victims from Jan incident. (342-346) 

3 others killed, including a married couple who went to report dissidents in the area. (345, 348) 

59 



Dead: 25 named victims 
Beaten: 50 estimated 

SEQWINI: ( approx 15 km due north of Pumula Mission): 

15 APRIL 1983:1 person killed by 5 Brigade, bayonetted to death. (1232) 

Dead: 1 

TANKENI: (NW of Pumula Mission) 

1983? a villager from here was one of 6 men beaten and then machine gunned by 5B at Mzimwatuga. 5B also burnt 

homesteads in the village and destroyed crops and livestock. (403) 

Dead: 6 

Burnt: several homesteads. 

KORODZIBA (west of Pumula Mission, now resettled): 

FEB 83: 5B came to the school and took about 60 pupils aged over 14 years. They were all beaten and asked about 

dissidents. 20-30 girls were raped and then ordered to have sex with some of the boys while the soldiers watched. They 

were beaten for 3 hours. (33 11) 

4 MARCH1983: 5 villagers were murdered at night for being PF-ZAPU members. (1223-27 incl) 

Also MARCH: 2 children out of a group of children died of starvation trying to run away from 5 Brigade in this area. 

They were trying to reach Ngamo railway siding, which is about 100 km NE of Korodziba. The dead were aged 9 and 

14, the survivor was 15. (1234-5) 

Dead: 5 plus 2 

Raped: 25? 

Beaten:60 

SOLOBONI (west of Pumula Mission, now resettled): 

23 FEB 1983: 5 Brigade rounded up entire village to the borehole. 6 people were chosen at random and were bayonetted 

to death, and buried in one grave. Everyone was then beaten. 5 people were beaten to death, and one person died years 

later, partly as a result of injuries from this beating. Another man who wept to see his brother killed, was severely 

beaten and died a few weeks later from his injuries. One old lady who was found in her hut was raped, and 5B then set 

fire to a plastic bag and burned the old lady with it, setting fire to her blanket. She died 3 weeks later from the burns. 

(3313) 

1 hut was burnt. (1238-42 incl, 1282-87 incl) 
Dead: 14 

Raped: 1 
Beaten: 50 est 
Burnt: 1 hut 

GIBIXEGU (NW of Pumula Mission, now resettled) 

2 FEB 1983: 5B entered the village in a truck and rounded all the villagers up. 2 women were tortured and a man taken 
away was never seen again. 6 people were beaten to death, including 4 women. 

(275, 697-703 incl) 

Dead: 6 

Missing: 1 

Beaten: 2 known, plus others 

EMANALENI (7 km NW of Ematetshaneni) 

On the same day that 5B beat and killed people at Gibixegu, they "did the same" at Emanaleni (698). 

A villager was taken by the Army and killed with bayonets, because he asked "World Vision" to film atrocities in their 

area. (613) 

MARCH 1983: 5B killed a headman from Filabusi and chopped off a woman's head. (1228 9) 

Dead: 4? 

EGAGWINI (approx 25 km due north of Pumula Mission): MARCH 1983: 

One young man was taken by 5 Brigade, badly beaten, returned, and while his parents were washing his wounds, 5 

Brigade came back and shot him. (1236) 

Dead: 1 

EMATETSHANENI (approx 24 km due north of Pumula Mission): 

FEB 1983 School treasurer beaten and then shot for not handing over funds, 500 m from his home. 

60 



(1237) 
Dead: 1 

SIHAZELA (30 km NNE of Pumula Mission) 

FEB 1983: an old man was shot 500 m from his home by 5B. They came back 3 days later and killed the old man's wife 

and daughter, and burned down the homestead. They also kicked a year-old child and broke his back. (599-603) 

Dead: 3 

Injured: 1 

Burnt: 1 homestead 

MKHONYENI ( Between Dzimidza-Sihazela, approx 20 km NNE of Pumula Mission): 

END JAN 1983: the first woman to die in this area was accused of feeding dissidents. She was pregnant and was 

bayonetted open to kill the baby. She died later. (350) 

FEB 1983: All the villagers were forced to witness the burning to death of 26 villagers, in the 3 huts of Dhlamini. (326- 

37 incl, 347-49, 605-7). Women and children died. There was only one survivor. 

File H lists all names of victims. The same report says that a few days before the hut burning, many men were killed, in 

punishment for having failed to catch a local thief the 5B wanted. (5 names in file H, 7 more in **CCJP case files) 

**CCJP case files also name 9 who died here, probably same incident as above. 

Just before the hut burning, at least one woman was beaten to death. (334) 

MARCH 1983: many men were shot dead at Mzimwatuga Pan. This was in punishment for having failed to catch a 

local thief 5B wanted. This report also mentions the hut burning (file H, also 604) 

Another villager was stabbed to death at Tshiyakwakiwe, near the pan. Another villager also died in this area. (332, 

353) 

**CCJP also report 1 missing here in 1983. 

Missing: 1 

Dead: l(preg): 26 in the hut: 12 named victims at the pan: 3 others = 42 

****JULY 1984: Dissidents killed the ZANU chairman as he was addressing a meeting. (1231) 

Dead: 1 

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 

vandalised 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 neighbouring 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. (1 120) 

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. (1 169-1 174 incl) 

2 other men were abducted and tortured to death and buried in shallow graves, (file H). 

Dead: 6 

Beaten: 50 est. 



61 



LUBESI (10 km SE 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 neighbouring 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. (1 135-7 incl, 1 139, file H also refers to 2 of these dead) 

Dead: 3 

Beaten: 50 est 

MBIRIYA and NXUMA (15 km SE of Pumula Mission): 

END JAN 1983: All villagers in these two neighbouring 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, 20 16ff) 

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. 1 1 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: 1 1 homesteads. 

BUTSHENA (just West of Mbiriya): 

1 1 FEB 1983: The villagers moved out of their houses after witnessing what had happened in neighbouring villages. On 
1 1 Feb they saw 5 Brigade burning all their homesteads. (1 143) 

Burned: 22 homesteads, 9 granaries 

SAND AW ANA (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 rumour 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 neighbouring 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 

62 



Beaten: 1 

Burnt: 14 homesteads 

TSHOMWINA and DZOKOTZE (5 km due south of Mbiriya): 

JAN-FEB 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 neighbouring village. He took 8 days to die, without medical care. 

(1186-98) 

20 homesteads in Tshomina were burnt down. (1 186-98) 

A ZNA member home on leave was taken to Pumula, tortured, taken from there in a car and never seen again. (1 144) 

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. (1 140-41) 

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 bayonetted 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 centre and beaten, then were taken to an Army camp in 

Plumtree for a week, before being hospitalised. (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 

63 



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 
worshipping" 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 NE 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. (1 122-3, 1 126, 1 142) 

**** 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 apologised. (1 180). 

** 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. (11 15) 

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 bayonetted 

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. 

64 



REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 

Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 

PART TWO 
FINDINGS: CASE STUDY 2 - MATOBO ( KEZI) 

CONTENTS 



1, Archival Data - The Chronicle 

2. CCJP Archives and Interviews in 1995/96 

3. An Overview of Events as Revealed by Data Sources 

a.) A Brief Chronology 
b.) Food Embargo 
c.) The 5 Brigade and CIO 
d.) Mass Detention 
e.)Bhalagwe 

3. Village by Village Summary , incorporating maps of sub-regions 

U Southern Matobo - Sun Yet Sen 
2.) Central Matobo - Bhalagwe 
3.) Northern Matobo 

The Discussion of Data Sources in Part One deals in detail with the data collection and collation process in the 2 case 
study areas. To summarise, data used consists both of archival material, information extracted from the media, academic 
studies, and interviews conducted in the 1990s. 

1 . ARCHIVAL DATA - THE CHRONICLE 

A summary of events specifically in Matobo (Kezi) District, as revealed by The Chronicle newspaper, is given here. 
There are other reports of dissident activity in Matabeleland South, particularly in the Gwanda and Bulilimamangwe 

Districts on either side, but these are not included here. In these surrounding areas there were dissident killings of 
civilians in the communal lands, a train driver, a Catholic missionary, a headmaster and his wife and several commercial 
farmers and their families. 

1982 

APR 23: 

A CSC cattle sale raided by dissidents, 50 km south of Kezi. One person is killed and 4 are injured, and 
$40 000 is stolen. A further sale has police protection. 

MAY 31:An off-duty constable in Kezi beaten to death by 3 members of National Army. 

JUNE 8: Store robbery near Kezi, perpetrators not mentioned. 

JUNE 9:3 bandits armed with a hand grenade rob a store near Sun Yet Sen. 

3 bandits with rifles rob a store in Semukwe Communal Area. 



65 



JUNE 10:2 dissidents, 1 with a hand grenade, rob headmaster atMatobo Mission, Gulati Area. 

JUNE 16:Dissidents demand food at Homestead. Army units then arrive and interrogate people, some of whom have 

since left the area because of security risk. 

JUNE 17:2 storekeepers robbed in Khumalo Communal Lands, by man with rifle. 

4 armed men rob store near Kezi. 
JUNE 19:Man stops a bus on Matobo-Byo road, but flees when he sees Police on board. 

Owner of Bidi store robbed by 2 men with rifles. 

JUNE 21:2 men with rifles rob store in Matobo commercial farming area. 

Same 2 men rob a businessman in Gulati Communal Lands. They also rob a store in Khumalo 
Communal Lands. 

JULY ?:"Some builders" killed and others attacked by dissidents in Kezi area while working on Govt projects. 

AUG 21:1 policeman killed in a dissident ambush near Mb em be sw ana. 

AUG 26:Police involved in a gun battle with dissidents on Lucydale Farm in Matobo - no casualties. 

NOV :A bus robbed by dissidents and 3 passengers assaulted, in Matobo. 

NOV 28:Nkomo addresses a rally in Matobo and tells people to keep their children away from dissidents. 

DEC 19:2 dissidents set up a roadblock just north of Kezi and stop 7 buses and a Mercedes Benz. They burn 4 buses 

and the car, before shooting breaks out and the dissidents (1 wounded) escape in a hijacked car. They later kill the car 

owner. 

1983 

JAN 17:A lone bandit in Tshatshane area fires at random at a bus, killing 1 passenger. 

FEB 10:A corporal in the ZNA ambushes a car near Antelope Mine: a 4 year old child is killed and his mother shot in 

the arm. 

FEB 26:Captured dissidents strengthen evidence that Kezi is a "core area" for Super Zapu, according to police sources 

in Kezi. 

Director of Info, Justin Nyoka conducts a press of tour of Kezi to prove no army atrocities are 
taking place. (5B is in Mat North, 100km away). 

FEB 27:7 armed dissidents beat a man and destroy construction equipment at Legion Mine. 

MAR 1 :Enos Nkala addresses a rally in Sun Yet Sen area. 

MAR 3:20 schoolchildren abducted by dissidents, and taken to Botswana. 

AUG 30:An empty bus is hijacked by 5 bandits and burnt. 

OCT :4 members of 1 family shot on a commercial farm, by dissidents. Initially 1 man and 2 women in the family are 

attacked in their farmhouse, and another family member who rushes to the scene to help is subsequently also killed. 

NOV :A commercial farmer killed by 25 dissidents in Matobo, when he went to check his cattle. 

DEC 24:2 girls aged 13 and 16 had their noses and ears cut off by dissidents, in Matobo village. 

1984 

No incidents involving dissidents\bandits\armed men specifically designated as occurring in Matobo (Kezi) District 

were reported in The Chronicle. (Incidents in surrounding areas are reported.) 

FEB :Members of the ZNA stand trial, accused of murdering 6 civilians in Feb 1984. 

1985 

JUNE 6:3 dissidents killed by security forces is Semukwe area of Matobo. 

JUNE 1 l:Bandits rob and destroy property on 3 commercial farms in the Matobo area, and order farm workers to leave. 

1986 

JAN 29:Dissidents destroy and burn property at 5 schools and also burn 2 stores in Matobo. 

FEB 21:$65 000 damage caused when dissidents burn buildings and shoot 38 cattle on a commercial farm in Kezi. 

APR 26:A lone bandit is shot in Whitewaters area of Matobo. 

JUNE 19:3 employees of Matopos Research Station are killed by dissidents. They also rob others and set a store room 

and office ablaze. 

OCT 8:1 man killed and 3 others assaulted, by dissidents in the Kezi area. 

OCT 2:Dissidents burn a clinic, 2 houses and a pump house in Matobo. 

66 



1987 

JAN 29:Dissident killed in Bezha area of Matobo. 

FEB 19:A bandit forces 7 others to burn a beerhall at Bidi in Matobo. 

MAR 30:Dissidents destroy a commercial farm homestead in Matobo, valued at $49 000. 

JULY 7:A militia man is shot dead by dissidents on a commercial farm near Figtree. 

AUG 18: A commercial farming couple is shot dead and their car burnt by dissidents in the Figtree farming area. 

NOV :16 missionaries in two adjacent farm houses in north eastern Matobo are murdered by dissidents. The dead 

include women and children. 

DEC 23:UNITY. 

1988 

MAR 28:"Gunmen"kill 34 animals on a commercial farm, and burn a house in Matobo. 

This is the last recorded act of terror in western Zimbabwe. 



2.CCJP ARCHIVAL DATA, AND INTERVffiWS IN 1995/6 



i.ARCHIVES 

The CCJP archives for events in 1984 are far better organised than those for 1983: the first arrival of 5 Brigade in 
Matabeleland North had caught everyone by surprise, but in 1984, mission staff in Matabeleland South were prepared 
for what might ensue. Mission personnel kept in regular touch with personnel in Bualwayo, who made typed records of 
phone conversations, which were on occasion conducted in German to foil whoever might be listening in. There are also 
detailed minutes of meetings between personnel in Bulawayo with outlying mission staff during the curfew. In addition, 
the CCJP was preparing to present evidence to the Committee of Inquiry by early 1984, and systematic, formal typed 
statements were taken from witnesses from Matabeleland South, and several were sworn and signed in front of a 
Commissioner of Oaths. 

ii.INTERVIEWS 

The Matobo Case Study is an extended pilot study rather than a comprehensive report on Matobo District. The process 
of interviewing was far less complete than in Tsholotsho, largely as a result of time and funding constraints, but also 
owing to other factors. While the Tsholotsho interviewing began in earnest in mid 1995 and was completed by a back- 
up session in mid 1996, in Matobo the procedure was condensed into approximately 10 weeks, from July 1996 to mid- 
September 1996. 

July was spent trying to establish contact with the local councillors, who were not previously known to project 
personnel, and to gain their co-operation in publicising the project among their ward residents. The Tsholotsho 
councillors had been well known to project personnel and had proved very co-operative, but this was not the case in 
Matobo. In spite of support for the project from the Provincial Governor and from certain Chiefs in the region, certain 
ward councillors remained wary of getting involved in the project. They were hesitant to encourage the people in their 
wards to give evidence. In some cases, councillors actively undermined the project, by ordering those in their wards not 
to attend pre-arranged interview sessions. Other councillors expressed fear of what the ZANU-PF Central Committee 
might say if it were known they had supported the data collection process. 

In addition, the CIO attended certain interview sessions, remaining visible but at a distance of about 30 metres, while 
interviewing took place. In one instance, they returned a few days after interviewing in a region, and questioned a man 
who had been involved. It was the belief of project personnel that the CIO became involved at the instigation of certain 
councillors. Their behaviour was intimidatory, and indicative of the desire of some government officials to prevent the 
facts of those years from being discussed or acknowledged. The behaviour of CIO in Matobo was partially successful in 
preventing people from coming forward to testify: project personnel had approached priests at all missions in 
Matabeleland South to help in data collection, but after news of the CIO interest spread, many decided they would 
rather not get involved with the project. 

If there is truly nothing to hide about events in the 1980s, then government resistance to establishing the facts makes no 
sense. 

In spite of the difficulties experienced, a total of 9 interview sessions were conducted, at 6 different venues. All these 
sessions were conducted in the southern parts of Matobo. No interviews were conducted in areas north of Kezi, such as 

67 



in Gulati Communal Lands or in Khumalo Communal Lands, as time ran out. A few selective interviews took place in 
Khumalo after mid-September, in order to try and establish a general sense of how affected this region had been, but 
there is clearly scope for further investigation of events in this northern region of Matobo. 

At the interview sessions in southern Matobo, many people came forward to give their testimonies. A total of 350 
named victims were identified, and thousands of others were implied by witnesses. Some witnesses who were in 
wards where their councillors were discouraging involvement in the project, actually walked to neighbouring wards to 
give testimony, or gave testimony through the local missions. People were turning up in large numbers to give witness 
in the last few sessions, indicating that if time had allowed and the interviewing procedure could have been extended, 
the data base would have been substantially added to. 

While fewer interviews were collected in Matobo than in Tsholotsho, a consistent picture emerged from those who gave 
testimony. As in Tsholotsho, corroboratory evidence of State strategy was given by witnesses from areas very distant 
from one another, and data collected in 1996 bore out data collected by CCJP in the 1980s. 

3.0VERVIEW OF EVENTS REVEALED BY DATA 



A.A BRIEF CHRONOLOGY 

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. 

B.THE FOOD EMBARGO 

The Food Embargo was a major factor in events in Matabeleland South in 1984. Throughout the early months of 1984, 
residents of Matabeleland South were suffering from starvation caused in the first place, by three consecutive years of 
drought and in the second place, by government restrictions preventing all movement of food into and around the 
region. Drought relief was stopped and stores were closed. Almost no people were allowed into and out of the region to 
buy food, and private food supplies were destroyed. 

The psychological impact of the food embargo was profound. While the village by village summary which follows does 
not make continuous reference to the food embargo, many of those interviewed mentioned its effects. All events which 
occurred, did so against the background of a seriously weakened and demoralised populace, who were having to watch 
their children cry and beg for food which their parents were unable to provide on a daily basis. State officials, largely in 
the form of the 5 Brigade, also actively punished those villagers who shared food with starving neighbours. The 
speeches of 5 Brigade commanders at rallies repeatedly stated the desire of the government to starve all the Ndebele to 
death, as punishment for their being dissidents. In the cruellest speeches, people in the region were told they would be 
starved until they ate each other, including their own wives and children. (One such speech is included in this report in 
full: see Part Three, I, page). 

Those interviewed recount how they struggled to stay alive during the embargo, by eating the roots and fruits of wild 
plants. However, in some areas the 5 Brigade tried to prevent even this, and punished people for eating wild marula 

68 



fruit. Even water was severely rationed. People also talk of risking their lives and breaking the curfew to share food 
with neighbours after dark, and their disbelief at seeing bags of maize ripped open and destroyed wherever 5 Brigade 
found them - on buses or in homes. 

CCJP archives reveal grave concern at the food situation, which missions in Matabeleland South monitored on a 
continuous basis. Their requests to be allowed to administer food in rationed amounts to their parishioners and 
employees were denied by the authorities, although St Joseph's Mission was allowed to feed 300 under-fives on a daily 
basis. Other feeding schemes which had been operating collapsed as mealie meal stocks ran out. 

CCJP also kept track of which stores were open, and on which days. From March onwards, the total ban on stores was 
slightly modified. 3 stores in Matobo were opened for only 2 days a week, at Bidi, Kezi, and Maphisa (Antelope). This 
meant that people near St Joseph's Mission were 60 km away from the nearest store, too far to walk in a day under 
curfew conditions. Others were even further away. 

People were banned from the use of any form of transport under the curfew. This not only affected access to operating 
stores, but also access to clinics. All the hospitals and clinics in Matabeleland South reported falling attendances, and a 
concern at the fact that sick people were unable to walk the often extensive distances to reach help, and could die as a 
result. In addition, those being beaten by 5 Brigade were expressly forbidden to seek medical help, even if they were 
within the vicinity of a clinic. 

There is mention that even operating stores were not allowed to sell mealie meal. On some occasions the stores were 
opened purely for propaganda purposes. There is a reference in mission correspondence to Col Simpson of the 
Paratroopers opening a store for 3 hours to coincide with a tour by the local press on 10 March 1984. On 21 March, 84 
people gathered at Bidi Store and waited all day only to be told that no mealie meal was to be sold. This was the pattern 
at other stores too, where people gathered, having walked 30 km or more, and would wait for hours only to be told they 
could not buy anything. 

Stores were not allowed to restock any products during the curfews, and those which occasionally opened soon had no 
food of any kind to sell. The army took control of the regional National Foods depot to ensure mealie meal was not 
distributed to stores. Anyone wishing to buy food in Bulawayo to send to relatives in curfew zones, needed a permit 
from the police or army, and these were rarely granted.There are also in interviews many accounts of people being 
brutally tortured when found waiting at shopping centres, the accusation being that they were trying to break the food 
curfew. 

School-teachers were among the few who were allowed food, as the government expressly intended the schools to 
remain open, but the teachers were severely restricted in terms of how much they could request, to prevent them from 
feeding others in the region. Mechanisms of how teachers received food depended on the orders of local army 
commanders: some were allowed transport into Bulawayo to buy for themselves, others were only allowed to place a 
food order with the army who then purchased on their behalf. This placed teachers in an awkward position with others 
starving in their areas: while teachers may have had some food, their pupils had none. CCJP records indicate a request 
for supplementary feeding through the schools being denied, and reports falling school attendance as pupils become 
faint with hunger, and as others flee the area hoping to find a place in schools in Bulawayo. At some mission schools, 
pupils would be given a drink of "mawehu', made from a local grain by mission staff during lessons, but staff comment 
that this was not enough to sustain their growing bodies. Pupils also had to face being picked up and beaten up by the 
army - mission staff were very aware this was happening, but were powerless to protect the schoolchildren. 
In addition to preventing food from coming into the area, 5 Brigade also broke down fences around fields to allow cattle 
to graze whatever few hardy crops might have survived the drought, thus ensuring that starvation was absolute. 

Catholic Mission staff in affected areas expressed increasing alarm and by the end of March 1984 they began to fear for 
the lives of the sick, the elderly and the very young. As people became more desperate, there were even those who 
wished to be detained, in the hope that in custody they might at least receive food. In fact, those in custody were kept in 
appalling conditions and received little food. Hunger and the problem of getting food to those nearing starvation became 
a dominant theme in CCJP correspondence during the curfew months. 

The food embargo alone was thus a significant and effective strategy which proved to 400000 ordinary people in 
Matabeleland South the power of the State to cause extreme hardship. 



69 



C.THE 5 BRIGADE AND CIO 

In Matabeleland South in 1984, the pattern of 5 Brigade behaviour differed notably from their behaviour in 1983. 

Killings were less likely to occur in the village setting. However, mass beatings remained very widespread, with many 
variations on a theme. While the most common pattern still involved making people lie face down in rows, after which 
they were beaten with thick sticks, there are a large number of interviews referring to sadistic refinements in mass 
physical torture. People were on occasion made to lie on thorny branches first, after which 5 Brigade ran along their 
backs to embed the thorns before the beatings. People were made to roll in and out of water while being beaten, 
sometimes naked. They were made to push government vehicles with their heads only, and were then beaten for 
bleeding on government property. Women were made to climb up trees and open their legs, so 5 Brigade could insult 
their genitals, while simultaneously beating them. Men and women were made to run round in circles with their index 
fingers on the ground, and were beaten for falling over. 

These mass beatings invariably ended with at least some victims so badly injured that they were unable to move, so that 
they had to be carried away by others the following day. As in Matabeleland North, people were threatened with death 
if they reported to hospitals or clinics, and the majority of injuries remained untreated. Victims mention fractured limbs 
which set themselves crookedly, perforated ear drums which became infected, and other injuries which might have been 
simply treated, resulting in long-term health problems. 

Genital mutilation is more commonly reported in Matobo than in Matabeleland North. The practice of forcing sharp 
sticks into women's vaginas is independently reported by several witnesses. This phenomenon was apparently common 
at Bhalagwe, and witnesses refer to women at Bhalagwe adopting a characteristic, painful, wide-legged gait after 
receiving such torture. In addition, men were also subjected to beatings which focussed on their genitalia. The testicles 
would be bound in rubber strips and then beaten with a truncheon. 

Some men complain of permanent problems with erections and urinating as a result of such beatings. At least one man 
is reported as dying after his scrotum was burst during a beating. Several witnesses also report being told to have sex 
with donkeys while at Bhalagwe, and being beaten when they failed to do so. The practice of wide spread rape, of 
young women being "given as wives" to 5 Brigade at Bhalagwe is also referred to by several independent sources. 

The CIO seemed to work very closely with the 5 Brigade in Matabeleland South, and gained a reputation for being even 
more lethal in their methods of torture than 5 Brigade. The CIO conducted most of the "interrogation" at Bhalagwe and 
Sun Yet Sen: they would ask questions, while 5 Brigade, who could not speak or understand Ndebele, beat the victim 
regardless of what he/she responded. CIO used electric shocks to torture people. They attached wires to the backs, ears 
and mouths of witnesses before shocking them. 

Witnesses frequently refer to being tortured by 5 Brigade and then CIO consecutively, or being passed from the custody 
of one to the other and back again. In Bhalagwe, there is repeated reference to a particularly cruel woman CIO officer 
who used to sexually torment her male victims. 

Water torture was also apparently wide-spread under both CIO and 5 Brigade. This commonly involved either holding a 
person's head under water, or forcing a shirt into somebody's mouth, then pouring water onto the shirt until the victim 
choked and lost consciousness. The perpetrator would then jump on the victim's stomach until s/he vomited up the 
water. This practice commonly stopped once the victim was vomiting blood. 

While killing by 5 Brigade was less widespread than in Matabeleland North in 1983, there are still many horrific 
atrocities on record, including the following, all perpetrated by 5 Brigade. A four month-old infant was axed three 
times, and the mother forced to eat the flesh of her dead child. An eighteen year-old girl was raped by six soldiers and 
then killed. An eleven year-old child had her vagina burnt with plastic and was later shot. Twin infants were buried 
alive. 



D.MASS DETENTION 

Mass beatings and rallies invariably ended in mass detentions in 1984. Those detained included all ex-ZIPRAs, all 
ZAPU officials, and other men and women selected on a seemingly random basis. Those detained could include the 
elderly, and also schoolchildren. Trucks seemed to patrol, picking up anyone they met and taking them to detention 
camps. 

70 



It was usual for detainees to be taken first to the nearest 5 Brigade base, for 1 or more days, before being transferred to 
Bhalagwe. Interviewees report being held in small 5 Brigade camps, until there were enough of them to fill an army 
vehicle to Bhalagwe. A truck-load seems to have been around 100 people. In southern Matobo, the main "holding camp' 
was at Sun Yet Sen, where both the CIO and the 5 Brigade were based. This camp reportedly held up to 800 detainees at 
one time, and people were sometimes held here for a week or longer. There were smaller bases in the west and north. 

Detainees in southern Matobo were commonly beaten before their detention, tortured at Sun Yet Sen, and then 
transferred to Bhalagwe for further torture and detention. In addition to detentions after rallies or mass beatings, 5 
Brigade also went through some areas on foot, hauling out villagers from the homesteads they passed, and then herding 
them ahead on foot, while beating them. Some interviewees report covering extensive distances in this way, as 5 
Brigade made a sweep through many villages in an area, gathering a growing number of detainees as they went. 



E.BHALAGWE 

The most notorious detention centre of all was Bhalagwe Camp, situated just west of Antelope Mine. From interviews, 
Bhalagwe operated at full capacity throughout the early months of 1984, from the beginning of February until the end of 
May, a period of 4 months. It continued to operate after this, but the phenomenon of mass detentions had dissipated by 
then, and there were fewer new inmates after this. 

On 15 May 1982 aerial photographs of the Bhalagwe area were taken for the purposes of updating maps of the area. An 
enlarged section of one such photograph (see page ) shows that at this date, Bhalagwe was an operational military camp: 
military vehicles are visible, as are soldiers on parade. It would appear that 1:7 Battalion was based here in 1982, 
consisting mainly of ex ZIPRAs incorporated into the Zimbabwe National Army. At some point in 1982, the ZIPRAs 
here were allegedly accused of being dissidents, and Bhalagwe Camp was surrounded by elite Paratroop and 
Commando units and was shut down. However, a military presence was maintained here, as there are references to 
Bhalagwe being used as a detention centre for ex ZIPRAs and others from mid 1982 onwards, when the anti-ZIPRA 
sweep in the wake of the tourist kidnapping gained momentum. 

Visible at Bhalagwe in May 1982, are 180 large, round roofed asbestos "holding sheds", each measuring approximately 
12 metres by 6 metres, and 36 half-sized ones, measuring 6 metres by 6 metres. According to testimonies on record 
since March 1984, which have been confirmed in interviews in 1996, these asbestos structures were where detainees 
were kept. It is also clear from the aerial photography, that these structures were arranged, apparently within fences, in 
groups of a dozen - eleven 12x6 metre structures and 1 smaller one. What is not clear is how many of these groupings 
were used in 1984 to house detainees, and how many were used to house military personnel, or served storage or 
interrogation purposes. Perhaps many were out of use. There is also reference by some detainees to some of the asbestos 
sheds having suffered wind and storm damage, so by February 1984 the camp may have been less intact than it appears 
in the May 1982 photograph. 

Detainees confirm that 136 people were routinely kept in each 12x6 metre shed. There were no beds, and the floor 
space was so limited people had to sleep squeezed together on their sides, in 3 rows. There were no blankets or toilet 
facilities. 

An assumption, based on affidavits, of 136 per shed would allow for the detention of at least 1500 people within each 
fenced enclosure of a dozen sheds. Bhalagwe camp has been variously estimated by ex-detainees to have had 1800, 
2000, 3000 up to 5000 people detained at one time. On 7 February 1984, the number of detainees was 1 856, consisting 
of 1000 men and 856 women. This figure was given to CCJP in 1984 by a detainee who was ordered by 5 Brigade to 
help others count the number of detainees. As the curfew had only been in effect a few days at this stage, and the phase 
of mass detentions was just beginning, it is very likely the number rose over the following weeks. 

It is quite clear from the aerial photograph that Bhalagwe's holding capacity was vast, and easily capable of absorbing at 
one time the highest figure currently claimed, that of 5 000. However, the exact number detained at Bhalagwe's peak 
remains unconfirmed. 

The first records of detentions in the Bhalagwe area date from the middle of 1982, coinciding with the detention 
exercises going on in Matabeleland North at that time. Reported detentions in 1982 and 1983 are few, however: it is in 
February 1984 that Bhalagwe becomes the centre of detentions throughout Matabeleland. 



71 



The remains of Bhalagwe Camp were still visible in November 1996 (see photos page ). The camp is ideally situated in 
terms of combining maximum space, with maximum privacy. There are natural barriers on three sides: Bhalagwe hill 
lies to the south, and Zamanyone hill demarcates its western edge. The eastern perimeter lies in the direction of 
Antelope Dam, and there are no villages between the camp and the dam. Water was piped in from Antelope Dam 
nearby, into water storage tanks. Although the camp is scarcely a kilometre from the main road running south of 
Bhalagwe hill, it is invisible to passers' by. 

People were trucked in from all over Matabeleland South to Bhalagwe, not just from Matobo. Women and men were 
separated. Different zones within the camp were designated to detainees who had been brought in from the different 
bases at Bulilimamangwe, Plumtree, Gwanda, Mberengwa, Sun Yet Sen and northern Matobo. There is even reference 
to detainees from Chipinge - these could have been potential MNR dissidents, although who they were exactly is not 
clear. As well as being sorted by district, Bhalagwe survivors refer to new arrivals being sorted and designated holding 
rooms on the basis of their usual line of work and their employers, such as whether they worked in town or were 
communal farmers. At times school children were also sorted and kept separately. Detainees also refer to identity 
documents and letters related to employment being taken by 5 Brigade, and the latter destroyed. Interviewees also refer 
to the fact that ex-ZIPRAs and ZAPU officials were kept separately from the ordinary civilians. 

As detainees at any one time at Bhalagwe had been selected from a wide area, people in detention together seldom knew 
more than a handful of the other detainees. As most travel in the rural areas is on foot, people then (and now) did not 
know those who lived even a few villages away from their usual footpaths. One of the consequences was that when a 
person died in detention, possibly only one or two other inmates from the same village, and possibly nobody at all, 
would know that person's name. 

Inmates of Bhalagwe speak of daily deaths in the camp, but they are seldom able to name victims. They will merely 
comment how they witnessed people being beaten or shot, or how on certain mornings there would be people in their 
barracks who had died in the course of the night, as a result of the previous day's beatings. The digging of graves is 
mentioned as a daily chore by some in early February. However according to witnesses, at a certain point, although the 
date is not clear, these graves were dug up, and the bodies taken away on the trucks. The empty grave sites were still 
clearly visible in November 1996. Other accounts refer to the nightly departure of army trucks, carrying away the dead 
and dying to an unknown destination. It is now believed that these people were disposed of in local mine shafts, and in 
1992, human remains were found in Antelope Mine, adjacent to Bhalagwe. Other people speak of their belief that 
Legion Mine, near Sun Yet Sen, also contains human remains from the 1980s. 

The ex-ZIPRAs and ZAPU officials were singled out and kept in a separate area, in small buildings with low rooves and 
no windows, although there were ventilation slats. They were also kept shackled throughout their detentions, unlike the 
other detainees, and were subjected to the most brutal torture. 

Turn-over at Bhalagwe was high. The length of detentions varied greatly. Most people recount having spent a few days 
or weeks in Bhalagwe. Approximately one to two weeks seemed a common detention period. Some interviewees claim 
to have spent as long as six to nine months in detention here, but these tend to be the ex-ZIPRAs and ZAPU officials. 

Women were commonly held a few days, unless selected as "wives" for the soldiers, in which case their detention might 
stretch to a few weeks. 

If two weeks was assumed as an average stay, and a conservative turnover of 1000 every two weeks was assumed, it 
could be estimated that around 8000 people passed through Bhalagwe in the four months it operated at its peak. The 
turnover could have been nearer double this figure. 

Whatever the length of detention, those detained were subjected to at least one brutal interrogation experience. The 
majority were beaten on more than one occasion. There is reference to electric shocks being administered by the CIO. 

Some witnesses report making false confessions under torture, naming invented people as dissidents, only to be caught 
out the next day when they failed to remember their previous day's testimony. Interrogations always involved accusing 
people of being dissidents or feeding dissidents or of failing to report dissidents. This was routine, with no evidence 
being cited. The sexual focus of much of the torture has already been mentioned, with widespread rape, genital 
mutilation and forced sex with animals. 

Bhalagwe survivors have referred to a wide variety of physical tortures. One pastime for the 5 Brigade was to force 
large numbers of detained men and women, to climb on to branches of trees, until the weight of human bodies snapped 
the branch, sending everyone crashing to earth. People broke limbs as a result of this. Several interviewees comment on 
the way 5 Brigade laughed to see them suffer. 

72 



Another form of torture was to force three men to climb into a 2 metre asbestos drainage pipe. The ones on each end 
would be told to come out, and as they started to leave the pipe, the 5 Brigade would begin to beat them fiercely, 
causing the men to spontaneously pull back in to the pipe, crushing the third man who would be crowded in the middle. 
On occasion, this resulted in the man in the middle being crushed and kicked to death by his two panicking companions. 

Detainees were fed only once every second day, when mealie meal would be dished up on dustbin lids, with between 10 
and 20 people per lid. Sometimes people would be forced to eat without using hands, for the amusement of 5 Brigade. 

People were given half a cup of water a day each. Detainees had to dig toilets, wash army clothes and pots, and chop 
firewood in between their interrogation sessions. Interrogations used to begin at 5.30 a.m. every day. 

4.SUMMARY OF MATOBO INCIDENTS BY REGION 

G.S.W- Gunshot Wound 

MASS DETN - Mass Detention ( 50 villagers estimated) 

1. SOUTHERN MATOBO 

DEAD: 16 plus others implied 

MISSING : 10 

TORTURE: 70 

ASSAULT :342 (includes 104 from truck accident) 

MASS BEATINGS: 12estimate 600 villagers beaten 

RAPED:13 plus others implied 

G.S.W: 3 

DETAINED: 136 

MASS DETN:8estimate 400 villagers detained 

PROPERTY BURNT:3 homesteads 

2.CENTRAL MATOBO 

DEAD: 102plus others implied 

MISSING: 20 

TORTURE: lplus others implied 

ASSAULT: 141 

MASS BEATINGS: 13 estimate 650 villagers beaten 

RAPED :2plus others implied 

G.S.W: lplus others implied 

DETAINED: 28 

MASS DETN:10estimate 500 villagers detained 

PROPERTY BURNT:31 homesteads 

3. NORTHERN MATOBO 

DEAD: 55 
MISS: 9 
ASSAULT:57 
MASS BEATING:2 
RAPED: 2 
DETAINED:60 
PROPERTY BURNT: 1 

TOTALS 

DEAD:183plus others implied 

MISSING:39plus others implied 

TORTURE:7 lplus hundreds implied 

ASSAULT:540 

MASS BEATINGS:27estimate 1350 villagers beaten 

RAPED:17plus hundreds implied 

DETAINED: 224 

MASS DETN:18estimate 900 villagers detained 

PROPERTY BURNT:35 5.VTLLAGE BY VILLAGE SUMMARY 

73 



NOTE: 

Numbers in brackets: indicate source numbers of BLPC interviews from which information was derived. 

** indicates source document is in a CCJP file 

**** indicates an incident involving dissidents. For all other offences, the perpetrators are army units, or Govt agencies 

such as the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), or Police Support Unit (SU). 

5 Brigade (5B) may be assumed as perpetrator unless another unit is mentioned. 

Matobo has been divided into three regions for the purposes of this summary. While there appear to be some 
discernible patterns of difference in the experience of one region from another in this case study area, this could 
be the consequence of the fact that interviewing was not as wide-spread as in the first cast study area. Current 
differences, such as the apparently large number of dead in the central region, might balance out with more 
thorough interviewing. 

It was noteworthy that before interviewing took place in September 1996, all the archival and academic information 
from all sources had been placed on the data base, and had revealed only 47 named dead in Matobo. The process of 
interviewing and assessing in terms of "village", increased this figure to over 220 in the space of four weeks. This 
represents a five-fold increase: many of the dead which were included at this stage were numbered dead indicated with 
full details of where and when, from the CCJP archives. This is perhaps an indication of what might happen to the 
current figures for the dead in other districts where there is currently little named data available, if interviewing and 
village by village assessment took place. 

ABBREVIATIONS: 

MISS:Missing 

TORT:Tortured ( physical methods other than beatings) 

ASS:Assaulted ( physical torture - beatings) 

DETN:Detention 

GSW:Gun Shot Wound 



74 



REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 

Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 



PART TWO: RESULTS - PRESENTATION AND 
DISCUSSION OF NAMED HUMAN RIGHTS OFFENCES 

1. HUMAN RIGHTS DATA BASE -NAMED VICTIMS 

Methodology has already been covered in some depth in Part One, II. To summarise, named victims were extracted 
from multiple sources, which included CCJP archival material, interviews conducted in the 1990s, paralegal clients, and 
previously published human rights and academic documents. These named victims were entered into the "HR Data 
Base". Each name was allocated a number, a set of letters indicating offence/s, and district and perpetrator were also 
tabulated. (see page for more detail). The following totals were arrived at: 

TOTAL VICTIMS:3 534entries in combined HR Data Bases. 

OFFENCES:7 246 [most victims suffered 2 or even 3 offences: occasionally one entry clearly indicates more than 1 

victim - see Part One, II for examples. 

Approximately one thousand victims were validated from more than one source, and more than 300 were validated by 3 

or more sources. 

2. THE CHRONICLE DATA BASE 

Data from The Chronicle, Bulawayo's daily newspaper, were entered into an identical, but separate data base, for 
reasons discussed in Part One, II. The Chronicle listed victims in 2 ways, defined for the purposes of this report as 
"General" and "Specific" Reports. 

"General Reports" are the six monthly statements in Parliament, giving total numbers of dissident offences without clear 
indication of where they occurred. 

"Specific Reports" are the day by day reports of dissident activites, which tended to give the district where offences 
took place, the number of victims or value of property lost, but not usually the exact names of victims. Only specific 
reports were entered into The Chronicle Data Base. 

The Chronicle data base consisted of 562 entries, and covered the months from June 1982 to March 1988. 

3.ANALYSIS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND CHRONICLE' DATA 

Victim data were computer-sorted along various parameters for assessment. 
It was sorted alphabetically by: 

1 District 

2. Year and Month (numerical sorting) 

3. Type of offence 

4. Surname and then first names of victim 

A process of counting rows, once this sorting was complete, made it possible for the computer to quantify offences in 
required ways. Data were sorted by district and offence for Table I, and were resorted by perpetrator, offence and 
year for Table II. 

Total numbers of offences exceeded total number of named victims, as the majority of victims suffered multiple 
injuries, such as loss of property and death, or detention and torture. If victims suffered injuries from more than one 
agency (ie 5 Brigade and CIO), then only the primary agency is counted as perpetrator. 

As mentioned previously, data from The Chronicle were kept separately, but were sorted and counted in the same way 
as other data. 



75 



4.PRESENTATION OF RESULTS 

A. TABLES 

TABLE I -Human Rights (HR) Data Base: the District by District Distribution of victims. 

TABLE II - HR Data Base: Comparison of Yearly Totals of Dissident and Army Offences. 

TABLE III -The Chronicle Data Base (Specific Reports): the District by District Distribution of victims. 

TABLE IV -The Chronicle: Comparison of Yearly Totals of Dissident and Army offences. 

TABLE V - General Reports in The Chronicle, announced every 6 months in Parliament, listing numbers of dissident 

offences. 

TABLE VI -The numbers of alleged killings and arrests of dissidents by government agencies, as given in The 

Chronicle. 



B. GRAPHS 

These can be found immediately following the Tables. 

C.DISCUSSION OF RESULTS 

This accompanies the graphs, and there is a further discussion in which the possible numbers of real victims is assessed. 

KEY TO OFFENCES 

X Death 

M Missing, presumed dead 

P Property loss - destruction or theft 

TPhysical torture: includes all types of torture not covered by other categories, such as electrical shock, tying up of 
victim, submarino etc. 

D Detention (by Govt agencies) 

K Kidnap or abduction (by dissidents) 

AS Physical torture: Assault with Sticks, or other blunt weapon 

ABPhysical torture: Assault with Burning object, or enclosure of victim in burning building 

ABy Physical torture: Assault with Bayonette, or other sharp weapon 

AG Physical injury: Gun Shot Wound 

RRape 

PSYCHOLOGICAL TORTURE: Forced witnessing of violence, in particular against those you love and respect, is a 
very effective and devastating form of torture: thousands of Zimbabweans were victims of this experience. Being forced 
to watch your family starving as the result of food embargos, or being subjected to verbal threats, are other forms of 
psychological torture that whole populations suffered. As this was so wide-spread, no attempt has been made to quantify 
psychological torture. Definitions and implications of psychological torture are dealt with in Part Three, I of the report. 



76 



TABLE I 



HR DATA BASE - SUMMARY OF OFFENCES BY DISTRICT AND TYPE OF OFFENCE 



DISTRICT\PROVI 
NCE 


Death 
X 


Missing 
M 


Prop 
P 


Tort 

r 


Detai 

a 

D 


AS\B\G\ 

By 


Rape 


TOTAL 


MAT SOUTH 


35 














35 


BEITBRIDGE 


1 


2 


2 


12 


21 






38 


GWANDA 


45 


8 


1 


3 


15 


(S)26 
(G)l 




99 


MATOBO 


87 


5 


30 





1872 
(214) 


(S)384 
(B)l 

(G)5 


10 


2 419 


INSIZA 


3 






1 


5 


(S)3 




12 


BULAWAYO 


6 


28 


4 


10 


106 


(S)8 




162 


BULILIMAMANG 
WE 


51 


16 


4 


3 


6 


(S)22 
(G)2 


5 


109 


UMZIMGWANE 




2 




8 


17 


(S)3 




30 


MAT NORTH 


















BUBI (INYATHI) 


21 




2 










23 


NYAMANDLOVU 


46 


4 


18 






(S)61 
(G)6 




135 


TSHOLOTSHO 


621 


148 


494 


268 





(S)530 
(B)4 
(G)23 
(By)9 


138 


2 446 


LUPANE 


275 


41 


58 


2 


158 


(S)186 
(B)10 

(G)37 
(By)l 


6 


774 


NKAYI 


117 


24 


5 




116 


(S)39 
(G)8 




309 


HWANGE 


5 


1 






7 


(S)3 




16 


VIC FALLS 


5 








1 






6 


MIDLANDS 


















GOKWE 


7 










(S)l 




8 


GWERU 


33 


40 


33 


7 


30 


(S)103 




246 


KWEKWE 


18 


4 


26 


14 


20 


(S)22 




104 


MBERENGWA 










1 






1 


UNKNOWN 


46 


27 




5 


63 


(S)34 
(G)l 




176 


DISTRICT 


Dead 
X 


Miss 
M 


Prop 
P 


Tort 

r 


Detai 

a 

D 


Assault 


Rape 


TOTAL 


MASHONALAND 


















CHEGUTU 




1 


1 










2 


MAKONDI 


2 














2 


GUTU 




1 












1 


HARARE 


10 




2 


l 


7 


(By)3 




23 


KADOMA 








5 


24 






29 


MASVINGO 


2 






23 






25 


MANICALAND 
















MUTARE 


F 












2 


BOTSWANA 


1 1 




2 


10 


(S)l 




14 



77 

















TOTALS 


1437 


354 680 


366 


2713 


1537 


159 


7 246 



TOTAL OF HR DATA BASE OFFENCES IN 
COUNTRY: 7 246 



TABLE II 

HR DATA BASE: SUMMARY OF PERPE 

1982 ■ 1987 

[For year by year break down, see Tables II i 



TRATORS AND TYPE OF OFFENCE, TOTALLED FOR YEARS 

II vii, following] 



ALL 
YEARS 


PERPETRATOR 


Dead 
X 


Mis 

s 

M 


Prop 
P 


Tort 
T 


Detn 
D 


Assau 

It 

AS\B 

\G\ 

By 


Rape 
R 


TOTAL 




5 BRIGADE 


1134 


169 


523 


273 


223 2 


1284 


128 


5743 




ARMY 


116 


39 


39 


18 


26 


67 


19 


324 




CIO 


24 


81 


5 


51 


256 


46 


2 


465 




CID 


3 


4 




1 


6 






14 




SUPP UNIT 


4 


4 


5 




2 


3 




18 




ZRP 


6 


11 


3 


12 


39 


3 




74 




ZANU-PF 
YOUTH 


29 




73 






63 




165 




PISI 




1 




4 


20 


4 




29 




ARMED MEN 


5 


1 








11 




17 




DISSIDENTS 


64 


4 


23 


1 


2 


44 


4 


142 




PERPETRATOR 
UNKNOWN 


52 


40 


9 


6 


130 


12 


6 


255 




TOTALS 


1437 


354 


680 


366 


271 3 


1537 


159 


7 246 



TOTAL OF HR DATA BASE OFFENCES IN 
COUNTRY: 7 246 



NOTE: 
i) 

H) 



Perpetrators are recorded as perceived by interviewees: many could not clarify or did not mention which unit in 
the "Army" had committed a certain act. 

When perpetrator is perceived as "Police" or "ZRP" this could also mean one of several units, such as Special 
Constabulary, CID, Police Support Unit, PISI, or regular ZRP members. 

78 



Hi) In the vast majority of "Detentions - Perpetrator unknown', government agencies can be assumed: in 1985 in 

particular, many men were taken from their beds at night by men from government vehicles: for one of many 
witnessed accounts of such a detention, see page YY . Also included in "Detentions - Perpetrator unknown" 
were many named detainees from Chikurubi, who were obviously detained by government agencies, but which 
precise agency is not on record. 

iv) CIO often acted in conjunction with other agencies, such as PISI, and such cases have been recorded only 

under CIO, in order not to inflate apparent numbers of offences. This means other agencies were in fact more 
commonly implicated than would appear from the Table alone. The number of offences by the CIO is also 
dramatically underestimated in the table, because of the role CIO played at Bhalagwe Camp: both 5 Brigade 
and CIO tortured people here, but offences in Bhalagwe have been attributed to 5 Brigade only, again in order 
not to inflate apparent numbers of people tortured - those tortured at Bhalagwe by CIO run to hundreds if not 
thousands: see Matobo case study and Part Three, III. 



v) 



"Armed men" could be either dissidents or government agencies. 



TABLE 2 

(i - vii): PERPETRATORS AND TYPE OF OFFENCE, TOTALLED FOR EACH YEAR, 1982 - 1987 



YEAR 


PERPETRATOR 


X 


M 


P 


T 


D 


A 


R 


TOTAL 


i - 1982 


ARMY 


13 


4 


3 


2 




S:5 
By:l 


7 


35 




CIO 








6 


9 






15 




ARMED MEN 












2 




2 




DISSIDENTS 


16 


1 








8 


3 


28 




UNKNOWN 


3 


1 












4 


1982 


TOTALS 


32 


6 


3 


8 


9 


16 


10 


84 






















ii - 1983 


5 BRIGADE 


970 


122 


464 


42 


33 


S:667 

By:5 

B8 

G:41 


107 


2 459 




ARMY 


39 


8 


16 


8 


14 


S:23 
G:l 


1 


110 




CIO 


2 


8 




3 


12 


4 




29 




CID 


1 


3 












4 




SUPP UNIT 


1 


3 


3 




1 






8 




ARMED MEN 


3 














3 




DISSIDENTS 


11 




10 


1 


1 


8 




31 




UNKNOWN 


33 


8 


3 


3 




4 


6 


57 


1983 


TOTALS 


1060 


152 


496 


57 


61 


761 


114 


2701 






















iii - 1984 


5 BRIGADE 


157 


39 


59 


21 


1989 


556 


10 


2 831 




ARMY 


32 


10 


8 


5 


7 


14 




76 




CIO 


6 


9 


1 


1 


18 


3 




38 




SUPP UNIT 


1 


1 


2 




1 


2 




7 




ZRP 


2 


2 






1 


1 




6 




ZANU-PF 
YOUTH 


15 




10 






31 




56 




ARMED MEN 












2 




2 




DISSIDENTS 


15 




2 




1 


4 


1 


23 




UNKNOWN 


1 


7 






7 


3 




18 



79 



1984 


TOTALS 


229 


68 


82 


27 


2024 


616 


11 


3 057 


YEAR 


PERPETRATOR 


X 


M 


P 


T 


D 


A 


R 


TOTAL 


iv - 1985 


5 BRIGADE 


5 


7 




210 


210 


7 


11 


450 




ARMY 


9 


11 


7 




4 


10 


11 


52 




CIO 


9 


64 


1 


18 


104 


20 


1 


217 




CID 


2 


1 




1 


6 






10 




SUPP UNIT 


2 










1 




3 




ZRP 


4 


5 


3 


11 


20 


2 




45 




ZANU-PF 
YOUTH 


14 




63 






32 




109 




PISI 








2 


13 


4 




19 




ARMED MEN 


2 










1 




3 




DISSIDENTS 


11 


3 


7 






15 




36 




UNKNOWN 


5 


21 


6 




96 


1 




129 


1985 


TOTALS 


63 


112 


87 


242 


453 


93 


23 


1073 






















v- 1986 


ARMY 


1 


1 




1 


1 


S:4 

By:l 

G:l 




10 




CIO 


1 






18 


89 


17 


1 


126 




ZRP 








1 


1 






2 




PISI 










2 






2 




ARMED MEN 




1 








4 




5 




DISSIDENTS 


3 




4 






S:3 
G:l 




11 


1986 


TOTALS 


5 


2 


4 


20 


93 


31 


1 


156 






















vi - 1987 


ARMY 


1 


1 


2 






2 




6 




CIO 


6 




3 


5 


21 


2 




37 




ZRP 




4 






17 






21 




PISI 




1 




2 


5 






8 




DISSIDENTS 


4 










5 




9 




UNKNOWN 


1 










1 




2 


1987 


TOTALS 


12 


6 


5 


7 


43 


10 




83 


YEAR 


PERPETRATOR 


X 


M 


P 


T 


D 


A 


R 


TOTAL 


vii YEAR 

NOT 

KNOWN 


PERPETRATOR 
KNOWN 




















5 BRIGADE 


2 


1 












3 




ARMY 


21 


4 


3 


2 




5 




35 




CIO 










3 






3 




ARMED MEN 












2 




2 




DISSIDENTS 


4 














4 




UNKNOWN 


9 


3 




3 


27 


3 




45 




TOTALS 


36 


8 


3 


5 


30 


10 




92 



80 



TABLE III - A 

THE CHRONICLE - JUNE 1982 TO MARCH 1988: "SPECIFIC REPORTS". 
SUMMARY OF ALL OFFENCES BY DISTRICT AND TYPE OF OFFENCE. 
MATABELELAND AND MIDLANDS 



OFFENCE 


Dea 

d 

X 


Miss 
M 


Prop 
P 


Kidnap/ 
Detain 


Assault 

As 


Rape 
R 


TOTA 
LS 


DISTRICTS\PROVINCES 
















MAT SOUTH 


18 












18 


BEITBRIDGE 


12 




7 




2 




21 


GWANDA 


23 




64 


l(k) 1(d) 


32 


5 


126 


INSIZA 


3 




6 








9 


MATOBO 


39 




38 


20(k) 


5 


(102 


BULILIMAMANGWE 


26 




49 


4(k) 


36 




115 


BULAWAYO 


5 


3 


9 


83(d) 2(k) 


4 


1 


107 


UMZINGWANE 


3 




5 




1 




9 


MAT NORTH 


23 






77(d) 






100 


NYAMANDLOVU 


37 




87 


31(k) 


16 




171 


TSHOLOTSHO 


27 


1 


7 


1(d) 
8(k) 


14 


2 


60 


INYATHI (BUB I) 


11 




11 




1 




23 


NKAYI 


34 




16 


l(k) 


4 


2 


57 


LUPANE 


20 




76 


1(d) 


2 


6 


105 


HWANGE 


8 




3 




4 


4 


19 


BINGA 


1 












1 


TOTALS (NORTH & 
SOUTH) 


290 


4 


378 


163(d) 

67(k) 


121 


20 


1043 


MIDLANDS 
















GOKWE 


5 




5 




2 




12 


KWEKWE 


2 




5 




1 




8 


GWERU 


25 




7 


3(d) 


22 




57 


MBERENGWA 


8 




2 




3 




13 


TOTALS 


40 




19 


|3(d) 


28 




90 



TABLE III - B 

OTHER LOCATIONS INCLUDING UNKNOWN 



OFFENCE 
DISTRICT\PROVINCES 


Death 
X 


Missing 
M 


Prop 
P 


Kidnap 
K 


Assault 

As 


Rape 
R 


TOTAL 

S 


MANICALAND 
















CHIPINGE 


2 




9 


9 


7 




27 


CHIMANIMANI 








2 


2 




4 


NYANGA 


3 












3 


MASVINGO 


2 












2 


MASHONALAND 
















CENTENARY 


4 








1 




5 


CHEGUTU 


1 












1 


HARARE (SEKE) 


1 




1 


6(d) 


16 




24 



81 



MAZOWE 


4 








1 




5 


MARONDERA 


1 




1 








2 


MASHONALAND 


1 












1 


MUDZI 


1 












1 


SUNDRY VILLAGES 


11 




4 




5 


1 


21 


UNKNOWN 


3 




1 


5 






9 


TOTALS 


34 




16 


16(k) 
6(d) 


32 


1 


105 



TOTAL OFFENCES (all perpetrators) IN COUNTRY = 1238 



TABLE IV 

THE CHRONICLE, JUNE 1982 TO MARCH 1988: "SPECIFIC REPORTS": DISSIDENT OFFENCES AND 
ARMY OFFENCES BY YEAR 

IV - A: DISSIDENT OFFENCES 



YEAR 


Dead 
X 


Property 
P 


Kidnap 
K 


Assault 
AS 


Rape 
R 


TOTAL 


1981 


3 


3 




1 


1 


8 


1982 


60 


185 


1 


67 


2 


315 


1983 


61 


107 


52 


26 


1 


247 


1984 


29 


4 


8 


16 


6 


63 


1985 


91 


48 




23 




162 


1986 


9 


21 




15 




45 


1987 


70 


44 


10 


17 


1 


142 


1988 




1 


12 


1 




14 


TOTAL 


323 


413 


83 


166 


11 


996 



IV - B: OFFENCES BY GOVERNMENT AGENCTES, INCLUDING ALL ARMY AND POLICE 

UNITS, AND ALSO ZANU-PF YOUTH 



YEAR 


Dead 
X 


Missing 
M 


Detained 
D 


Assault 

As 


Rape 
R 


TOTAL 


1982 


7 


1 


151 


4 


6 


169 


1983 


18 


3 


15 


10 


4 


50 


1984 


7 






1 




8 


1985 


9 




6 






9 


TOTALS 


41 


4 


172 


15 


10 


242 



There were NO REPORTS of property detroyed by government agencies, although "rioters' are acknowledged in 1985. 
There were NO REPORTS of offences by any government agencies after 1985. 

TOTAL OFFENCES IN COUNTRY = 1238 



82 



TABLE V 

THE CHRONICLE : JAN 1983 - DEC 1986 

"GENERAL REPORTS" ON DISSIDENT ATROCHTES 

JAN 1983 - JAN 1984Released JAN 1984, but time span not clear: 

120 murders 58 ZANU officials killed 

284 robberies 61 civilians killed 

25 mutilations 37 raped 

47 rapes 

JAN 1984 - JULY 1984No report on offences between July 1984 and Jan 1985 

45 civilians killed 

37 rapes 

253 robberies 

JAN 1985 - JULY 1985JULY 1985 - JAN 1986 

45 killed 103 killed 

40 raped57 raped 

215 robberies263 robberies 

plus millions in property damage 

DURING 1986 1987 - NO GENERAL REPORT 

116 civilians killed 

57 raped 

20 abducted 

210 robberies, worth $47 000 





GENERAL REPORTS 




SPECIFIC REPORTS 


TOTAL 
S 


JAN1983 - DEC 1986 


TOTAL 

S 


JAN 1983 - DEC 1986 




Killed: 429 




Killed: 157 




Prop loss: 1225 




Prop loss: 174 




Assaults: 25 mutilations 




Assaults: 103 




Rapes:238 




Rapes :5 




TOTAL: 1917 




TOTAL:439 



NOTE: "Specific Reports" totals here are lower than for the "district by district" analysis because 
they exclude offences before January 1983 and after December 1986 to correspond with dates of 
General reports. Also excluded from "Specific Report" totals are those "dissident" offences which 
took place between Jan 1983 and Dec 1986 in other parts of the country: "General Reports" always 
refer to Matabeleland and Midlands only, so "Specific Reports" here do the same. 



TABLE VI 

THE CHRONICLE: OFFICIAL REFERENCES TO NUMBERS OF DISSIDENTS IN OPERATION, OR 

KILLED OR CAPTURED, JUNE 1982 - MAR 1988 



1982 




1984 




JUNE 


1 killed 


JAN 


1 killed 


JULY 


Dissident numbers between 150 and 200 - Mugabe. 




175 armed clashes since 
July 1983 




1 killed, 1 captured 


FEB 


459 killed or captured 
"since operations began" 


AUG 


3 killed, 2 injured 


MAR 


41 killed since Jan 



83 



SEPT 


300 ex-ZIPRAS have deserted the army - 
Sekeramayi. 


MAY 


3 killed 


OCT 


77 demobbed ZIPRAS arrested - Kangai 


IUNE 


5 killed 


DEC 

1983 


13 killed, 5 captured 


IULY 


16 killed since Feb 

curfew 

58 brought to trial 

191 armed clashes 


FEB 


Sekeramayi declines to give details of people killed: 
" a good number of dissidents and their 
collaborators have been killed." 


OCT 
NOV 


100+ killed in 1984 
10 killed, 37 captured 




17 ex ZIPRAS desert - Mugabe. 


DEC 


3 killed 




Nyoka refutes claims of atrocities and refuses to 
give a figure on deaths. 


1985 




MAR 


Mnangagwa denies harrassment of civilians and 
says the infrastructure supporting dissidents must 
be destroyed. 


JAN- 
DEC 


68 bandits killed in 1985 
- Chief Supt T Gere 




"Several" dissidents and army deserters arrested in 
Bulawayo. 


1986 






Sekeramayi calls stories of army atrocities 
"malicious". 


JAN- 
DEC 


45 dissidents killed, 
"specific reports" 
totalled. 




10 dissidents killed. 






APRIL 


Munyaradzi denies many civilians are seeking 
medical help. 


1987 






Locals are reported to be capturing and killing 
dissidents. 


JAN- 
DEC 


3 1 dissidents killed, 
"specific reports" 
totalled. UNITY - Dec 




8 killed 






AUG 


4 killed 


1988 




OCT 


3 killed, 1 injured 


FEB 


2 killed, 122 surrender 



TOTAL DISSIDENTS ACCORDING TO THE CHRONICLE: 800 (approx) 
B.GRAPHS AND DISCUSSION OF RESULTS 



The figures represented in tables above, are here graphed to highlight certain trends. Tables have been graphed to show 
distribution of offences by district, by perpetrator, and by district and perpetrator together. 

The different categories of offence have also been extracted and graphed over time. "Perpetrator" is always as recorded 
in archival data, or as alleged by interviewees. 

Figures currently in the HR Data Base must be viewed as the known minimum number of victims in listed 
districts . These numbers of victims can only grow as more evidence comes to light. While the Data Base is far 
from comprehensive, it will be noted from the graphs that certain trends are nonetheless clearly apparent. The offences 
on file, their alleged perpetrators, and the years in which certain offences lie grouped, confirm the general claims made 
in the earlier parts of this report. 

In addition, there is now the evidence from the case study areas, showing how dramatically figures rise when data is 
actively sought. In all other areas, data is archival, and not comprehensive even in the assessment of archival sources, in 
that numbers of victims indicated by archival material were not included on the HR 

Data Base, in order to prevent counting victims twice, once with and once without a name. 

The numbers of offences listed in the HR Data Base are therefore the MOST CONSERVATIVE figures possible to 
consider at this stage. For a brief examination of how it might be possible to use our knowledge from the case study 
areas, together with HR Data Base figures and our general knowledge at this stage, to arrive at a truer picture of the 
scale of the disturbances, see the final section of this discussion. 



84 



NAMED VICTIMS: Report compilers discussed the possibility of including at the back of this report, a list of NAMED 
DEAD. Human rights reports have opted to do this in recent years. The permission of surviving family members would 
ethically be needed in order to list the dead. However, many names on file are archival with no clear postal address for 
surviving family members now known. The interview form used in the 1990s also did not have on it a request for 
permission to publish names. While postal addresses for those interviewed in the 1990s are available, the logistics of 
sending out a request to publish names, and waiting for responses would be enormous. In some cases, where four or 
more sources confirm the name of a certain dead or missing person, several variations of how precisely the name is spelt 
may be given. Authenticating correct spelling is another problem that would have been faced if seeking family 
permission had been decided on as a course of action. 

The compilers of this report also believe that it is still necessary to protect their sources in every way possible. There is 
therefore no list of the dead, nor are any victims named in this report, apart from those who held high political office. 
Victims are referred to by their HR Data base number, or CCJP archival file, only. 

The original report contained a number of maps and tables at this point which were not made available to the 
Electronic Mail & Guardian. 



C.A DISCUSSION OF HOW TO ASSESS THE IMPACT OF THE 1980S DISTURBANCES, IN TERMS OF 
REAL NUMBERS OF VICTIMS. 

The figures in the HR Data Base are clearly a base-line set of figures which can only grow in the future. Only one 
district in Zimbabwe was fairly comprehensively researched for this report - namely Tsholotsho. In addition, a pilot 
study was conducted in Matobo. Both of these studies resulted in a dramatic increase in existing knowledge of how 
events unfolded in these two regions in the 1980s, and both extended the named data base considerably, and allowed the 
incorporation of numbered victims. Numbered victims are generally excluded from all other districts. 

What was also noticeable in Tsholotsho was how the gap between numbered and named victims closed as interviewing 
progressed, and a larger proportion of named as opposed to numbered victims began to be reported. 

The lower levels of offences evident in the other districts in Zimbabwe reflect the fact that extensive research has 
not been done in these regions, rather than reflecting that these districts were not severely affected by events. 

While the compilers of this report do not claim to have any final answers in terms of real numbers of victims in the 
various categories of offence, some cautious suggestions can be made. The basis of these suggestions will be discussed 
separately for each category of offence, with a clear difference being maintained between what may certainly be known 
at this stage, and what may further be supposed. 

l.DEAD and MISSING 

The HR Data Base has the following figures, for named victims: 
Dead: 1437 
Missing:354 
Total: 1791 

To this can be added a minimum of 130 Tsholotsho dead and missing and a minimum of 133 Matobo dead and missing 
which became apparent when the "village by village' summaries were collated. 
This brings the definitely confirmed dead to 2052. 

Deaths in Non-Case Study Areas in Matabeleland North: independent researchers in Lupane and Nkayi who have 
done extensive interviews for a different purpose in these regions in recent years, suggested that approximately 1300 
dead would be a fair estimate for these two regions combined. Their intention was not specifically to "count the dead" in 
these regions, and they have not collected names. Their estimates are based on ward by ward estimates given to them by 
councillors in the general course of their interviews on other topics, but they feel these estimates are, if anything, 
conservative, and exclude the missing. 

As this estimate was put forward by researchers of proven integrity with a known understanding of events in these 
districts, and no possible motive for exaggeration or misrepresentation, it seems fair to consider including it in an 
estimate: this would add another 1000 to the figure for the dead, bringing it to around 3000+. 



85 



There is little known about deaths in other regions in Matabeleland North, although indications are that they were 
considerably less affected by 5 Brigade than Tsholotsho, Lupane and Nkayi. No comment or estimate will therefore be 
made about these regions. 

Deaths in Matabeleland South: it has already been commented that the pilot study in Matobo, which was far from 
comprehensive, resulted in a five-fold increase in the numbers of dead and missing. Yet prior to the case study, the 
named dead for Gwanda, Matobo and Bulilimamangwe were all in the range of 40-50. 

Judging from the CCJP archives and paralegal information, which is the only current source of data on Gwanda and 
Bulilimamangwe, these two districts were as severely hit in 1984 as Matobo. There are on archival files evidence of 
mass murders, mass graves, mass beatings and mass detentions in these two districts. We can also assume that the figure 
of 220 dead in Matobo is conservative, as interviewing here was limited. 

In addition, there are the many eye witness accounts of Bhalagwe on file. These include both archival accounts and 
those recorded in the last few months. All are very consistent in referring to daily deaths at Bhalagwe. From mid- 
February, villagers adjacent to Antelope Mine also refer to nightly trips by trucks to the mine shaft, followed by the 
disposal of bodies and the throwing of grenades in afterwards. 

There was a change in strategy on the part of 5 Brigade in 1984. They had apparently realised in 1983 that it was not 
possible to kill hundreds of well known people in front of hundreds of witnesses in their home villages, and expect the 
fact to remain hidden. In 1984, the new strategy of translocating many thousands of civilians and grouping them at 
Bhalagwe, where everyone effectively became strangers, has made it much harder now to identify either exact numbers 
or names of the dead. Most detainees did not know the names of those they were detained with. People can also not 
remember exact dates on which they witnessed a certain number of people beaten to death or shot, so it is not possible 
to sort out eye witness accounts in a way that prevents double counting of deaths. 

One solution for those who wish to arrive at some idea of how many might have died at Bhalagwe, is to estimate 5 
deaths a day, multiplied by 100 days, (Feb to May) and to decide that approximately 500 died at Bhalagwe. 5 deaths a 
day might well be too conservative, however. The real number could be anything between 300 and 1000.... The inability 
to arrive at more accurate figures at this stage is a testimony to the effectiveness of the 1984 strategy in keeping deaths 
anonymous. For example, one person interviewed, who was 16 years old when incarcerated at Bhalagwe, recounted 
how he personally helped dig the graves and helped carry and bury the corpses of 9 men, 7 of whom had been beaten to 
death and 2 of whom had been shot. He did not know the name of a single one of these 9 victims, nor could he say 
exactly how many others had died during the 10 days he was there, except to say that they were "very many". These 
dead were from all over Matabeleland South, and some were from Matabeleland North: only extensive interviewing in 
all districts will help resolve the issue of how many died at Bhalagwe. 

Other evidence on the archives for Gwanda and Bulilimamangwe states that there are mass graves in both districts, 
mainly from 1984, but in the case of Bulilimamangwe, also from 1983, when parts of this district were adjacent to the 
curfew zone and affected by 5 Brigade in Matabeleland North. Judging by the pilot study in Matobo, it seems fair to 
estimate at least several hundred deaths in each district. Only extensive further research will come up with more 
accurate figures. 

In the rest of Matabeleland South, including Beitbridge, deaths also occurred, although in smaller numbers. No 
comment or estimate will be made on these. 

Those who are concerned about putting a precise figure on the dead in Matabeleland South could choose a number 
between 500 and 1000, and be certain that they are not exaggerating. 

Deaths in the Midlands: named and numbered dead and missing for the Midlands, suggest Gweru was worst hit with 
around 70-80 deaths, with deaths and missing for the whole Province currently standing at a conservative 100. Archival 
figures for unnamed victims suggest several hundred more deaths and disappearances - no more accurate suggestion can 
be made than this, without extensive further research. 

Deaths According to The Chronicle: While it seems reasonable in the face of conflicting reports to disregard the 
"General Report" claims in respect of dissident offences, the "Specific Report" figures have been borne out in part. Even 
this statement is not made without qualification: there were several occasions where recent interview data convincingly 
attributed offences to the army or CIO when The Chronicle attributed these offences to dissidents. However, in 
Tsholotsho, while the route to the final number may have differed, figures arrived at in interview data and in The 
Chronicle were fairly close in terms of how many people were specifically killed by dissidents. In addition, there are 

86 



some murders that can be uncontentiously attributed to dissidents in the non-case-study districts, and which have not 
been taken into estimate yet, including the deaths of commercial farmers. 

The Chronicle may therefore be conservatively assumed to provide support for the deaths of at least 100 to 150 people 
at the hands of dissidents, which have not been factored in elsewhere. 

FINAL ESTIMATE: The figure for the dead and missing is not less than 3000. This statement is now beyond 
reasonable doubt. Adding up the conservative suggestions made above, the figure is reasonably certainly 3750 dead. 
More than that it is still not possible to say, except to allow that the real figure for the dead could be possibly double 
3000, or even higher. Only further research will resolve the issue. 

The number of dead is always the issue in which there is the most interest, wherever in the world human rights 
offences are perpetrated. While such a focus is understandable, it should not be considered the only category of 
offence to give an indication of the scale of a period of disturbance. From the point of view of this report, 
compilers are concerned with the plight of those still alive. Of course, the loss of a breadwinner compounds the 
plight for his/her survivors, and in this way the number of dead from the 1980s indicates the number of families 
having to survive without financial assistance from able-bodied husbands, wives and children. But many other 
families who perhaps suffered no deaths were left with permanent health or emotional problems which, a decade 
later, have compounded seriously on their families in monetary and social terms. 

2.PROPERTY LOSS 

The HR Data Base currently has on record 680 homesteads destroyed. A reading of the "village by village" summary 
of Tsholotsho will confirm that this figure is conservative. Researchers in Lupane and Nkayi have also referred to hut 
burnings, and the burnings of entire villages, particularly in Lupane. What this means in terms of final figures is hard to 
say: therefore no estimate will be made. 

Properties were also destroyed in Matabeleland South which are not yet formally recorded, and the ZANU-PF Youth 
riots affecting the Midlands in 1985, and the property destruction resulting from this has been documented, for example 
in LCFHR. Readers of the report should therefore bear in mind that the figure of 680 homesteads destroyed is far from 
complete. 

In addition, there was the damage caused by dissidents. The Chronicle reports a multitude of bus burnings and the 
destruction of dam and road building equipment. Cooperative ventures were also destroyed on occasion, and 
commercial farmers had livestock shot and property destroyed. Again, to try to assess this now in precise monetary 
terms would be a complicated and somewhat arbitrary procedure. The section following (Part Three, II) on legal 
damages attempts to make this sort of assessment on ten specific cases only, to illustrate how such damage might be 
assessed. 

Perhaps the most significant type of "property loss" to those in affected regions, is the fact that throughout the 1980s, 
when the government was investing in development projects in other parts of the country, Matabeleland was losing out, 
on the true premise that the disturbances made development difficult. 

3. DETENTION 

Possible numbers of detainees are also very difficult to assess at this stage. Some attempt was made in the case study on 
Matobo to estimate a figure for those detained at Bhalagwe. Based on an average stay of two weeks, and an average 
holding capacity of 2000, it was assumed that any number of civilians between 8000 and double this figure could have 
passed through Bhalagwe. As some reports put the holding capacity at considerably higher than 2000 at its peak, this 
assumption does not seem unreasonable, but it is an assumption nonetheless. 

Apart from Bhalagwe, both documents on file and lists of named victims in Chikurubi in 1985 suggest certainly 
hundreds and likely thousands of detainees over the period from 1982 to 1987. The detention centres at St Pauls in 
Lupane and in Tsholotsho operated from mid 1982, and certainly hundreds were detained in 1982 alone. Africa 
Confidential refers to 700 detained at Tsholotsho in 1982, and St Paul's detention centre was also large. There are also 
reference to 1000 detained in Bulawayo in March 1983. 

In 1985 and 1986 there were further detentions, both before and after the general elections. Elected ZAPU officials were 
picked up in rural areas, and hundreds were detained in urban centres too. LCFHR refers to 1300 detained in Bulawayo 

87 



in early 1985 and 400+ detained in Bulawayo in August 1985. There are official documents signed by police confirming 
large numbers of detainees. For example, CCJP wrote to Nkayi Police station inquiring about the whereabouts of a 
certain man who had been detained. The police wrote back saying they had detained 80 people that day in Nkayi, and 
most had been subsequently released. They had no record of this particular man. 

Again, there is no easy formula for arriving at a figure for detainees. It seems reasonable to assume at least 10 000 were 
detained, some for a few days and some for far longer, between 1982 and 1987. This is an assumption based on what is 
known now of the general unfolding of events, and the holding capacities of various detention centres. 

4. TORTURED/ WOUNDED 

Named torture victims, inclusive of those assaulted, stand at around 2000. 

In addition to these named victims, the Tsholotsho case study identified 70 villages involved in mass beatings, and 4 
mass beatings at railway sidings. The Matobo case study identified another 25 mass beatings. 

This is a total of 99 known mass beatings. A figure of 50 per mass beating was decided on as reasonable (see Part One, 
II), which would mean 4950 further assault victims. 

This puts the total number of those fairly definitely known to have 
been physically tortured at around 7000. 

Mass beatings were also a definite phenomenon of 5 Brigade behaviour in Lupane and Nkayi in Matabeleland North, 

and Silobela in the Midlands, as well as in Bulilimamangwe and Gwanda in Matabeleland South, but no estimate will 

be placed on how many people this may have affected. 

In addition, reports of Bhalagwe make it clear that detention here was synonymous with beatings, usually daily. 

Physical torture of one kind or another was almost mandatory, not only at Bhalagwe but in all detention centres and 

jails. 

Several thousand more beating victims could therefore safely be assumed, but precisely how many remains to be 
established. 



CONCLUSION 

The above estimates are offered merely as estimates. A careful reading of the Historical Overview will make it clear 
that the evidence on record supports the general claims being made here in terms of likely numbers of victims, and will 
in fact suggest that these claims are conservative. But only further comprehensive research will establish more accurate 
numbers for all categories of offence. 



88 



REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 

Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 



PART THREE: ORGANISED VIOLENCE: 

THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE 1980s DISTURBANCES 

FOR ITS VICTIMS 

A. Definitions of organised violence 

B. Forms of organised violence, 
l.)Physical torture 

2.) Deprivation 
3.) Sensory overstimulation 
4.) Psychological torture - general 
5.) Psychological torture - witnessing of violence 
6.) Psvchological torture - Disappearances 

C. Consequences of organised violence 

D Physical consequences 

2.) Psvchological consequences 

D. Consequences of organised violence for society. 
E. Relevance to Matabeleland - conclusion 

It is difficult to estimate the costs of the epidemic violence of the 1980s. Costs must be measured in physical injuries, 
psychological disorders, economic damage and social pathology. Some of these costs, such as the medical consequences 
of physical injury, can be estimated, at the least by inference and comparison. 

Psychological disorder can be also be estimated, as there is already a reasonably extensive literature on the effects of 
organised violence. The following chapter of this report (Legal Damages), makes some attempt to indicate the economic 
costs of the 1980s disturbances. There are, however, very few indications that social pathology can be easily measured. 

As indicated in the previous chapters, the scale of violence was very large, and involved large numbers of people. The 
experiences reported by these people can be categorised, and it is the aim of this chapter to put the effects of the 
reported violence into a more human perspective. 

Firstly, for each type of torture, we will begin with a definition and some examples, as these are necessary, both for a 
clear understanding of the forensic approach involved, and for an interpretation of the reports from Matabeleland. Then 
we will look at a specific testimony from the 1980s disturbances illustrating the given category of torture. 

Once we have gone through the six main categories of torture in this way, we will make some general observations 
about the physical and psychological consequences of organised violence, and of the likely situation now in 
Matabeleland for survivors. We will not attempt to quantify any of the categories for the 1980s, as this would be 
inappropriate in the absence of direct clinical measurement. We will, however, comment upon the likely prevalence of 
disorders, since direct comparison with other local and regional samples is possible. We will conclude with some 
suggestions for remediation of the ill-effects. Readers must bear in mind that the case testimonies which will be outlined 
in this chapter are merely illustrative, not conclusive evidence for any proposition. 

89 



EXISTING STUDIES ON VIOLENCE IN THE ZIMBABWEAN SETTING 

There has been a series of studies into prevalence and effect of organised violence carried out at two small rural 
hospitals, at Mount Darwin and Karanga in the far north eastern corner of Zimbabwe. Although this area was 
completely unaffected by events in the 1980s, it is an area that suffered extreme violence in the 1970s, and is the only 
area where the long term conseqences of organised violence for Zimbabweans have been studied. As no studies on the 
effects of the 1980s violence have yet been done, the Mount Darwin/Karanga study may provide some insight into the 
effects of organised violence in a Zimbabwean setting. 

This suggestion is not made dogmatically, and one would expect cultural and historical differences to have made the 
1980s experience discreet for its sufferers from the 1970s violence. Much of the data in the 1970s studies relates to war 
veterans, whereas in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 1980s, it was civilians who were affected by the violence: 
there are problems in extrapolating from the former group to the latter. Even where Mount Darwin results relate to 
civilians, it must be remembered that in Matabeleland and the Midlands, people have now suffered two consecutive 
periods of violence, which has compounded the plight of survivors in these regions. 

Interested readers are therefore referred to the list of references for this chapter, if they wish to pursue what is already 
known from the Mount Darwin/Karanga studies. As has been mentioned before in this report, the techniques of torture 
used by government agencies in the 1980s were nothing new in this country: such abuse was widespread in the 1970s. 

A.DEFINITIONS OF ORGANISED VIOLENCE 

The term "organised violence" derives from an initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and, in Southern 
Africa, has been given a definition that both includes and extends the original definition given by the WHO. An 
International Conference, and a subsequent Regional Meeting, both held in Harare, gave the following definition: 

"Organised violence is the interhuman infliction of significant avoidable pain and 
suffering by an organised group according to a declared or implied strategy and/or system 
of ideas and attitudes. It comprises any violent action which is unacceptable by general 
human standards, and relates to the victims' feelings. Organised violence includes inter 
alia "torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" as mentioned in 
Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights(1948). Imprisonment without 
trial, mock executions, hostage taking or any other form of violent deprivation of liberty 
also fall under the heading of organised violence. The effects of apartheid, destabilisation, 
civil war, the forced displacement of people, and political violence constitute organised 
violence. Violence which occurs in these situations as a direct consequence of political 
repression, although it may appear random, is of a structural nature, involves violation of 
basic human rights and can only disappear when human, social and political relationships 
are profoundly changed." (PAZ.1991) 

As can be seen from this definition, the terms covers a very wide range of effects, from torture to displacement, from 
deliberate infliction of bodily harm to economic hardship. This may seem to some to be an unduly wide definition, but it 
does bear some relation to reality. It can also be seen, that the events of the 1980s fall well within the definition of what 
constitutes organised violence. 

There are other more restrictive definitions, mostly indicated in international conventions, declarations, and principles. 

The United Nations Convention against Torture gives a very formal legal definition, as does the UN Declaration of 
Human Rights. The African Charter of Human and People's Rights gives a very simple and clearly understandable 
definition. 

These legal definitions are mirrored in the definitions given by medical and forensic scientists, all of which emphasise 
the element of deliberate harm and violations of humanitarian principles. It is with these forensic perspectives that we 
examined the reports of violence in Zimbabwe in the 1980s. 

90 



In our review of the research and clinical studies, it became apparent that some clear categories emerge, both for types 
of violence and types of effects. We will describe these categories below in some detail. 

B.FORMS OF ORGANISED VIOLENCE 

It has become conventional in the study of organised violence to view violence as a kind of stress, albeit a very extreme 
form of stress. Where man-made stress is concerned, war, torture, riots, and psychological terror are sometimes 
considered to occupy a very similar position on the stress dimension. Despite their similarity, it is worth specifying the 
various forms, for, although the intent behind the violence may be the same - to deliberately harm human beings - the 
effects found are by no means uniform. 

Organised violence can be very simply classified into six main kinds: 

1. Physical torture. 

2. Deprivation. 

3. Sensory overstimulation. 

4 Psychological torture - general 

5. Psychological torture - Witnessing of death or torture. 

6. Psychological torture - "Disappearing" of people. 

These are by no means exclusive categories: it is usually not possible to separate clearly physical and psychological 
torture, except in the rare cases of psychological torture occurring in the absence of physical torture. It is fair to say that 
physical torture is always accompanied by verbal threats. In addition, people can suffer several types of physical torture 
simultaneously. A person might have been tortured, both physically and psychologically, have seen this happen to 
others, and have had a member of her family forcibly abducted and never seen again. Certainly, most interviewees 
providing data for this report suffered multiple types of abuse, as will be clearly illustrated by the cases used below. 

A seventh category, wounds due to war, might also have been included, for these will clearly be found amongst people 
from Matabeleland and other victims of war, but this category is so obvious in its origin and its effects that it requires 
little discussion. Unfortunately, bullet wounds, or limbs missing due to land mine explosions are all too often the only 
pathology examined by a society. Here we would point out that the First National Disability Survey, carried out in the 
early 1980's, is a good example of this point: injuries due to war are reported exclusively as physical injuries. We will 
thus concentrate on the original six areas. 



l.PHYSICAL TORTURE 

All methods of physical torture have the common element of causing extreme pain in a position of complete 
helplessness. This can be illustrated by a simple example in the difference between being hit by fists and boots in a 
fight as compared with being hit by fists and boots whilst being tied up. 

Although it is generally futile to attempt any classification of types of physical torture, since man's creativity in this area 
seems to know no limits, the range of types may be illustrated by reference to the findings from an international study 
on torture victims (Rasmussen.1990). 

TABLE 1 

TYPES OF PHYSICAL TORTURE (from Rasmussen. 1990) 

Beating 99% 
Severe beating 97% 
Severe beating (head) 73% 
Electrical torture 54% 
Physical exhaustion 34% 
Climatic stress 33% 
Asphyxiation 29% 
Falanga29% 

Severe beating (genitals) 20% 
Submarine ("wet") 19% 

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Standing 17% 

Suspension by arms or legs 6% 
Banging head 15% 
Abnormal body position 13% 
Torture by heat 13% 
Suspension on bar 10% 
Sexual torture 10% 
Telephone 9% 
Submarine ("dry") 6% 
Sexual torture (rape) 3% 
Nail torture 2% 
Pushed down stairs, 
out of window 1 % 

In the 1980s disturbances: relating this to statements made to compilers of this report, all of the above types of 
physical torture, with the exception of the last two, occurred in the 1980s disturbances. The prevalence of various types 
of physical torture in different parts of the country varied, but research has not been analysed comprehensively enough 
at this stage to result in tables offering precise ratios for all these categories, although general trends can be commented 
upon. 

Certainly, it is quite obvious that beating, severe beating, and beating on the head were the most common forms of 
torture in the 1980s, in all regions for which records now exist. For named victims across all categories of physical 
torture, over 80% reported beatings. This number increases to more than 90% if unnamed victims involved in mass 
beatings are considered. In addition, the Matobo pilot study suggested that there were greater refinements in physical 
torture in 1984, and in particular that sexual torture was more common at this time. Further study will be needed to 
establish the precise ratios of these various types of abuse in the 1980s. 

One form of physical torture which was reported from all districts on file as having occurred in the 1980s, was the use 
of burning plastic: burning plastic bags would be dripped on to restrained victims. There are photographs on file of 
people scarred as a result of this form of torture. 

It is common for different kinds of physical torture to be given at the same time: people can be beaten while being 
suspended or tied up in unusual positions: furthermore, physical torture can be accompanied by other kinds of torture. 
Almost every interview on record relating to the 1980s, reports the use of verbal abuse - psychological torture - 
in conjunction with one or more kinds of physical violence, either observed or personally experienced. 

A considerable research effort has gone into identifying methods of physical torture, and new variations are found all 
the time. It is also apparent that methods seem to spread across the planet, and there is no form of physical torture that 
seems specific to any one culture. Not only the current study, but also the recent study of Zimbabwean war veterans in 
Mount Darwin endorses this, giving evidence of most of the forms of torture mentioned by Rassmussen. 

In most torture studies, beatings of one kind or another are by far the most common methods of abuse. The beatings can 
be generally all over the body, but some countries show a preference for a particular kind of beating. Falanga, or beating 
the soles of the feet, has been frequently reported in Middle Eastern countries, but there are reports of its use in African 
countries too. Electrical torture is popular because of the extreme pain that it causes, as well as the few scars that it 
leaves. 

The point to grasp here is that any physical harm caused deliberately is torture, and thus any procedure or object can 
become torture or be used in torture. 
PHYSICAL TORTURE IN THE 1980s 

As can be seen from the summary of the reports, many persons (65%) experienced some form of physical torture. 

Beatings constitute about 80% of the physical torture reported, with electrical shock, submarino, suspension, abnormal 
postures and rape all reported. The picture is actually little different to the kinds of abuse reported in other Zimbabwean 
studies. The following case, Interview Case Number 1679 TD illustrates a not-uncommon story. 

On the 10th June 1983 at 4 pm I was taken from my workplace in a Puma vehicle, along with 2 others who 
worked for another store in Tsholotsho. We were taken to Mbamba Police Camp, about 40-50 km away. When 
we got there we were separated. My friend and I were accused of telephoning Bulawayo to warn our masters to 
stay away, because the killers (the 5 Brigade) were still there. The 5 Brigade had made it known that they wanted 

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to kill my master, Y, and my friend's master, K. They had gone to hide in Bulawayo. I was beaten and lost 4 teeth 
on the spot, and 12 others after this. My friend was tied with his hands and feet together. They would hang him 
head down and feet up until he was paralysed in both hands and feet. He died from this in 1993. From 1983 he 
was on and off in hospital. 

This individual received blows to the face, which were severe enough to cause the loss of teeth, and may well have 
resulted in further injuries. There would be queries about possible hearing loss, as well as possible minor brain injury. 

His friend experienced a severe form of suspension, which would have resulted in joint injuries, especially if he had 
experienced beatings at the same time as the suspension. The paralysis reported is unclear, but severe nerve damage is 
also a consequence of suspension. This case also illustrates the difficulty in separating out the different types of torture 
that these two men experienced. At the least we would have to consider physical torture, psychological torture, 
deprivation, and witnessing as possible experiences. 

In addition to beating, some brief mention must be made of the other forms reported. Some survivors have reported the 
use of electrical shock, and this is a very severe form of abuse, which may result in physical damage in the form of 
lesions, and very frequently leads to long standing psychological disorder. Here it is enough to point out the effects of 
what is termed "aversive conditioning". 

Aversive stimulation, which is most frequently some form of electrical shock has been shown to have long-standing 
effects: one animal study of the effects of electrical shock showed complete suppression of all behaviour, including 
eating, in a squirrel monkey given very mild shock, and aversive conditioning has been used for the suppression of anti- 
social or disabling behaviour in the field of psychiatry. Under psychological torture following, there is mention of a 
persistent sexual disorder reported by one man in Mashonaland who had been sexually tortured through the use of 
electrical shock, and there are likely to be similar cases in Matabeleland, as the following case from the CCJP 
Confidential Report on Torture in Zimbabwe illustrates. 

They then blindfolded and handcuffed me with my hands at the back and leg ironed me. Then they 
started beating me with a pick handle or some such stick. They beat me under the feet and on the 
back. I was lying face downwards as they were beating me. The pain was too severe for any 
description, I fainted in the process. When I gained consciousness,...., who was senior to the man 
beating me came and gave orders that they use electric shock on me. They used the field electric 
telephone. The instrument works on battery power. Wires were tied to my genitals, then they would 
wind the machine. On winding the shock runs through the body and I was screaming. The shock threw 
me down but I could not remove the wires because I was handcuffed. While I was screaming, they 
would dip a large family size towel in water and then tie it around my face covering the nose, so that I 
was breathing in water through my nose and mouth. This treatment caused me to faint. They poured 
water on me until I gained consciousness. Afterwards, that same day (at night) I was taken to Kadoma 
at Eiffel Flats. In the morning my feet were swollen so much and I could not pass urine, for my genitals 
were swollen and painful. 

This case illustrates how many forms of torture are used simultaneously. This man suffered falango, or beating of the 
feet, together with more general beating, sexual torture through use of electric shocks, and asphyxiation. Tying up, 
suspensions, being placed in abnormal positions are all reported by the 1980s survivors, and the likely result is that 
many of them will have persistent joint injuries, which cause pain and suffering, affecting both their capacity to work 
and indulge in social activities. Certainly, survivors claim such injuries in their interviews, and many claim current 
medical records in support of ongoing health problems. 

Here it is worth commenting that the data from studies of survivors from the Liberation War indicate that many persons 
are still suffering persistent pain more than 2 decades after the original abuse, so we cannot be complacent about the 
effects of human rights violations in the 1980s. 

The Matabeleland reports show some differences too with the Mashonaland reports and war veteran reports. 

For example, as in the case above, there are on the 1980s records, more cases of falanga, and this form of abuse 
produces very severe and crippling long-term effects. Additionally, the medical records from Matabeleland show people 
with severe injuries due to beatings and other forms of physical abuse. It will be a matter of urgency to offer the proper 
physical rehabilitation for these survivors. 



93 



2.DEPRIVATION 

Deprivation is separated from psychological torture in the Southern African setting because it happens very frequently 
that people are detained in circumstances that lead to ill-treatment, but where the intention is not deliberately to use the 
detention as torture. For the victim, however, the effect of the deprivation can be the same as torture. The point here is 
that torture is not just a matter of what was in the mind of the perpetrator or the person doing the detention, but 
it is also a question of what the victim believed was happening. 

Deprivation should be understood as representing extreme stress, frequently causing exceptional discomfort or pain. 

Deprivation covers a variety of different experiences, summarised below in Table 2. 

TABLE 2 

TYPES OF DEPRIVATION (From Reeler.1995)) 

Incommunication, minimal food and comfort: overcrowding for more than 2-3 days. 

Lack of water (more than 48 hours). 

Immobilisation, restraint, total darkness for more than 48 hours. 

Lack of sleep (less than 4 hours per night). 

Lack of needed medication or medical care. 

Again this is not an exclusive list, but it covers the kinds of treatments that are forbidden by most human rights 
conventions or conventions relating to the treatment of prisoners or detainees. Furthermore, these forms of abuse can be 
very difficult to assess in many countries where the above forms of ill treatment are so common as to be felt that they 
are "normal" methods of treating prisoners. Patients will frequently be accustomed to these methods, or know that they 
are routinely practised, so that they will not remark upon them for themselves. 

DEPRIVATION IN THE 1980s 

Deprivation has long-term effects, and we must mention both the specific deprivation suffered by those who were 
detained, and the more general effects of the food embargo and curfews. To deal with the first, we must here mention 
the effects of the detention in Bhalagwe, which was distinct from the interrogation centres such as Stops Camp. 

Detention on its own may not have adverse consequences, but combined with psychological torture and deprivation, 
long term adeverse consequences become more likely. 

One obvious consequence for those who have experienced detention, is a deep fear of authorities and places from where 
authorities exercise their power: police stations, offices, and the like. Many survivors are likely to have strong anxiety at 
having to enter such places, or having to attend any official gatherings. Political rallies, voting, and similar events are 
quite likely to bring back strong post-traumatic responses. Furthermore, those who suffer psychological disorders as a 
consequence of their detention, may well retain traumatic memories of their detention, and these will be all the more 
powerful if detention was accompanied by torture or the witnessing of torture. 

Bhalagwe Camp appears to be the one setting where specific deprivation occurred: conditions here were designed and 
enforced in a way to induce maximum discomfort. Those detained at Bhalagwe in the first day or two, before the camp 
was full, have reported that in spite of the fact that there were holding sheds standing empty, detainees were deliberately 
crowded in to a few sheds, to the point where there was virtually no space to sleep at night. Water and food were also 
rationed. The following sworn statement was made by a 19 year-old boy to CCJP on the 8 March, 1984. Other 
archival statements and statements made in 1996 confirm and further detail conditions at Bhalagwe. (see Part Two, II 
and a further statement on Bhalagwe, page following). 

....On 7 February (1984) in the evening we were taken by truck to Bhalagwe Camp. We reached Bhalagwe 
around 5 p.m. having left around 3 p.m. When we arrived we found many people at Bhalagwe, some of whom 
were being beaten. 

94 



We were separated men from women into barracks to sleep. In each barracks soldiers were counting up to 136 
people, and if there were not 136 others would be brought in to make up the numbers. 

We were arranged in three rows, two rows along the walls and one row in the middle of the building. We slept on 
our sides because we were told to squeeze since there was no room. We slept in our clothes with no blankets. We 
were not allowed to go out to the toilet at night, but in the morning we could do so under escort. 

On Wednesday morning about 8 a.m. we were taken out one by one to another barracks building where we were 
either beaten or given electric shocks. When the number got up to five we were then taken back to our barracks. 

I myself was only beaten, but I saw others being given electric shocks, and when they fainted, water was thrown 
on them. What I saw is that they put a wire into the mouth of the victim which is secured by strings that are 
attached to his ears. The other wire is put at his back. This second wire is placed on and off the back of the 
person. Four people in army uniform, two men and two women did the electric torturing while the victim was 
lying down. 

There were many barracks where they were taking people for beating and electric shock. 

Six school boys of whom I was one, plus two soldiers counted the women. This is how I came to know there were 
856 women in the camp. This counting took place on 11 February in the morning. Then later the same day four 
soldiers and six schoolgirls counted the men. After this the soldiers announced to us that the total number of men 
in the camp was one thousand, and that of women eight hundred and fifty six. The soldiers announced to both 
men and women these final figures. 

The prisoners from Sun Yet Sen were assigned to two barracks while those from Matopo, Plumtree, Gwanda 
and Belingwe(Mberengwa) were assigned one barracks each. 

They brought us to Bhalagwe to get information about dissidents. Questions about this were asked during the 
beatings. 

In the morning we used to dig graves, dig toilets, wash army clothes, wash pots, fetch firewood. 

We were given food and water to drink only on alternative days, i.e. skipping one day when we got neither food 
nor water. The young men dug the graves, and the old people buried those who died each day in the camp. Those 
who died must have died because of beatings and electric shock. I saw two in my own sleeping barracks who 
were found dead one morning. 

I was at the camp from 7 - 17 February. Until I left we were being beaten every day. 

On 16 February, all school children were made to sit according to their respective schools and home areas, 
counted, and sent back to barracks. 

On 17 February, all school children were told that we were going home. Then trucks took us to our homes for 
going to school. 

In Bhalagwe camp the barracks had asbestos walls and asbestos roofs. Because I knew the place, I know that 
there were neither soldiers nor prisoners at this camp before the curfew was imposed in February. 

At the camp I pretended to be a student, although I had left school after Form 1, end of 1983, because I had 
heard in other areas the soldiers tended to treat scholars slightly better. 

I came to Bulawayo by army puma on 17 February because I had told them I was schooling in Bulawayo. 

When I left home there was widespread hunger. Stores were closed; no buses were running except government 
transport. Soldiers were harrassing people. I have since heard that some people were dying of hunger. I heard 
this from a teacher who had come to buy food at the end of February. 

The data relating, to Bhalagwe may bear some comparison with genocide survivors, such as those 
from the Nazi era or Cambodian survivors from the Pol Pot regime . The data from both these periods 
indicate very high rates of morbidity amongst survivors. However, those at Bhalagwe were usually detained for a 

95 



few weeks or months, as opposed to years. Even within these few weeks , detainees would suffer torture, 
deprivation, witness executions and torture, and suffer massive psychological abuse, ethnic in its focus. Their 
detention was also occurring in the context of a larger and more sustained attack on all living in their region at 
that time. 

The most outstanding example of deprivation in the 1980s, because it affected so many people, was the use of the food 
embargo, denying access to food and other commodities and services during the early months of 1984. This resulted in 
the intimidation and near-starvation of 400 000 civilians. While drought is a common experience in Matabeleland, the 
food embargo clearly stands out in people's memories as a separate type of experience - that of state induced hunger. 

The curfew months were also accompanied by rallies at which specific threats were made: it is likely that many were 
deeply traumatised by these experiences, and it is probable that the whole process of drought relief that has been so 
common-place in the southern parts of Zimbabwe brings back traumatic memories for many survivors. The following 
speech was made at a rally, 3 weeks after the food embargo had been in force. CCJP have it on file as a sworn 
statement, dated 8 March 1984. 

On Thursday, 23 February (1984), the soldiers called a meeting at Sibomvu (in Gwanda district, Mat South). I 
went there. The soldiers were under the shade of a big Ntenjane tree while the people sat around in the sun. The 
meeting was from 12 to 4 p.m.. After that they told us there would be no curfew that evening because some 
people had come from very far. 

Their leader told us that his name was Jesus. "I am one of the leaders of the Gukuruhundi", he said. 

These are some of the things he said at the meeting: he had some gallons of blood in his car. The blood came 
from people. His life is to drink human blood. He wanted more blood because his supply was running low. They 
had come to this place to kill, not to play. They had come to kill the Mandebele because the dissidents were found 
only in their area and not in Mashonaland. 

Commander Jesus said he found his boys doing nothing - beating up people instead of killing them. He did not 
mind thousands of people being killed. 

"You are going to eat eggs, after eggs hens, after hens goats, after goats cattle. Then you shall eat cats, 
dogs, and donkeys. Then you are going to eat your children. After that you shall eat your wives. Then 
the men will remain, and because dissidents have guns, they will kill the men and only dissidents will 
remain. That's when we will find the dissidents. 

Commander Jesus spoke in Shona while one of the soldiers translated into Ndebele. 

The ordinary soldiers are better. They go around nicely asking about dissidents and then they go their way. If 
these ordinary soldiers came we would be prepared to tell them the truth. 

But with 5 Brigade, truth or lies, the result is the same. 

Experiences at such rallies, or detention experiences, could very easily have caused Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (see 
section following) in the sufferers, both acutely at the time, and chronically in continued disorder since. 

Apart from the deliberate policy of deprivation embodied in Bhalagwe and in the food embargo, there were instances in 
the 1980s when deprivation existed, but probably unintentionally so. As previously pointed out, "normal" detention 
conditions even when not deliberately worsened by the authorities, often resulted in deprivation and torture to those 
experiencing them. Those detained, for example at Stops Camp in Bulawayo, have reported appalling detention 
conditions, including overcrowding and lack of sanitation and food, but it can not be concluded that this was the result 
of a deliberate policy: it was more likely the result of indifference to the situation of detainees. 

Sleep deprivation was a consequence of the week-end long pungwes held in Matabeleland in 1983/4, although it is 
unlikely that rallies resulted in less than 4 hours' sleep a night. Mission staff reported their concern at the effect of these 
enforced gatherings on their school-age children, who were exhausted by Monday morning after a weekend of forced 
attendance at rallies, where they were not only deprived of sleep and recreational time, but were subjected to having to 
witness violence and verbal abuse (CCJP archives). 



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3.SENSORY OVERSTIMULATION 

Sensory stimulation is often used as a method of torture of persons in detention, but it does not seem to be so common 
in community settings. The aim behind sensory stimulation, which is often erroneously termed "brain washing", is to 
cause mental confusion and distress, and psychological studies of sensory deprivation, one kind of sensory 
manipulation, have clearly demonstrated the damaging effects of such abuse. For example, people subjected to constant 
"white noise", or other forms of constant stimulation, rapidly show signs of stress, even to the point of beginning to 
hallucinate if it goes on long enough. 

TABLE 4. 

TYPES OF SENSORY OVERSTIMULATION 

(From Rasmussen.1990) 

Constant noises. 
Screams and voices. 
Powerful lights. 
Constant lighting. 
Special devices. 
Drugs. 

All of these can be used deliberately, or can be part of the background to detentions. For example, many people have 
been tortured in settings where they can hear the sounds of others being tortured too, and will talk about how terrible it 
was to hear the screams and voices of their comrades. This could have been a deliberate policy on the part of the 
torturers, but is frequently due to their indifference to whether other prisoners can hear or not. 

SENSORY OVERSTIMULATION IN THE 1980s 

The specific effects of overstimulation are difficult to produce in a community setting, since they require a controlled 
environment in which the perpetrator can exercise maximum control over the kinds of stimulation that a person can 
receive. Overstimulation is therefore reported only amongst those who were detained in interrogation centres or at 
Bhalagwe Camp. Deliberate deprivation is more commonly reported than overstimulation. This is similar to the findings 
from Mashonaland studies and those of war veterans. 

Detainees have frequently recalled how having to listen to the screams of others being tortured added to their own 
terror, but it is not clear whether the keeping of people in close proximity to the torture cells was the result of 
indifference, or deliberation. The following account is taken from the CCJP Report on Torture. 

While at Stops camp people were tortured. One boy was so badly beaten and bleeding in the face that I doubt if 
he is alive. People were being tortured and beaten until around 2 a.m. in the night and at 8 a.m. in the morning 
we heard screams and cries. They use electric shock and the water and cords for torture... 

Those at Bhalagwe have also described how torture and interrogation began at 5.30 a.m. every day, and how from that 
time on, the camp resounded with screams. Apart from these types of reports, "over stimulation" as a method of torture 
does not seem to have been widely used. 

A few high level political detainees have reported some of these more sophisticated forms of torture, such as being kept 
in continually lit cells. 



97 



REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 

Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 



PART THREE : HUMAN REMAINS - RECOMMENDATIONS 

ON THEIR POSSIBLE RECOVERY 

Interviews with civilians resident in Matabeleland North and South made it clear not only that there are mass graves in 
these parts of Zimbabwe as a result of the 1980s disturbances, but also that this is an issue of concern to residents and 
affected families. It is also known that there are likely to be unrecovered bodies in the Midlands. 

The full nature and causes of the disturbances have been covered elsewhere in this report. This section will therefore 
concentrate on the likely types of human remains at this point and in how best to deal with them. 

1/DEAD' AND 1 MISSING 1 

In this report, people are referred to as "Dead" if their deaths were witnessed. In most cases in Matabeleland North, this 
also means that what happened to their remains is known, even if all that is known is that the bodies were taken away on 
trucks. While the current location of the remains of the "Dead" is often known in Matabeleland North, this is less often 
the case in Matabeleland South. 

"Missing" refers in most cases to people who were known to have been taken from their homes at night in mysterious 
circumstances, or known to have been detained, and never seen again. (See interview , page for an example). There is 
no indication in these cases as to where bodies might now be. 

As the vast majority of victims can be classified as "Dead" rather than "Missing", the possibility of identifying and 
recovering human remains for many victims is positive. In this Zimbabwe is more "fortunate" than for example 
Argentina, where approximately 10 000 disappeared, or Guatemala, where 50 000 people disappeared in recent decades. 

The recovery and identification of those who died in the 1980s might also be more easily accomplished than for those 
who died in the 1970s civil war in what was then Rhodesia, as many of these victims went missing outside of the 
country, or were killed and buried in regions in Zimbabwe far from their own districts. In spite of the difficulties, many 
victims of the 1970s war have been successfully recovered and reburied in the years since independence, and the 
reburial exercise continues. 

The establishing of a pre-mortem data base on all "Missing" victims, containing as much physical information on each 
victim as possible, would dramatically improve chances of identification. The structure of the computer data base 
currently used in Argentina could be adapted to the Zimbabwean situation. 

2.THE BEARING OF PERPETRATOR ON BODY DISPOSAL 

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. 

98 



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. 

3.DISPOSAL OF BODIES 

It has been previously stated in this report that it was a characteristic of 5 Brigade to insist that there was no mourning 
for the dead. In some cases the family of the dead victims were themselves shot because they wept. It was also 
characteristic, particularly of the early weeks of 1983, for victims to be buried in mass graves. In some cases, 5 Brigade 
would shoot people and pass on with no concern for what happened to the dead, and in these cases, families were able 
to bury their own dead, although full burial rites and full attendance by family members were not possible because of 
the prevailing conditions in those weeks. 

This part of the report will concern itself with cases in which no proper burial took place. The way in which bodies were 
disposed of in such cases can be categorised as follows: 

1. Bodies left where they were killed and burial forbidden. 

2. Bodies buried in mass or individual graves in villages but not in the culturally accepted place or manner. 

3. Bodies left inside huts in cases where people were burnt to death in huts. 

4. Bodies buried in mass or individual graves at 5 Brigade camps. 

5. Bodies dumped into mine shafts. 

4.CHANCES OF RECOVERY IN EACH CATEGORY 

1. Burial denied: in Lupane in particular, but also in parts of Tsholotsho (see Pumula Mission section), burial was on 
occasion forbidden, and relatives of the dead were reportedly forced to observe the remains of their dead rotting away 
and being scavenged. In these cases, bones were sometimes buried months or years later, and in other cases, bones were 
removed by the 5 Brigade, who came past in trucks and collected them. In cases where bones were removed by 5 
Brigade, chances of recovery now are almost non-existent. 

2. Mass graves: there are reports of mass graves throughout most of Matabeleland North and South. Compilers of this 
report personally visited a few such sites. Photographs and video clippings also exist of these graves. What is notable is 
the careful way in which these graves have been demarcated by civilians in the area: they have often been fenced off 
with logs, or covered with boulders. In some cases most or all of the actual victims in a grave are still known to those in 
the area, and in other cases, those buried were strangers to the area, and are completely unknown. In most cases, victims 
in mass graves were shot dead. 

If it was the will of affected communities, relatives of the deceased and the authorities, such graves would provide 
ideal sites for forensic investigations. The possiblity of identifying at least some, or even all, of the victims in such cases 
would be extremely high. It would also be likely that cause of death could be established. 

3. People buried under huts: there are several incidents of people burnt to death in huts in Tsholotsho, and also reports 
that this happened in Lupane. In Tsholotsho, there are on record, nine cases where people were burnt to death in huts 
(see Pumula Mission section). Numbers of victims ranged from 1 to 30, with at least two villages experiencing hut 
burnings involving large numbers of people. These bodies were not removed from the huts, but were given a makeshift 
burial where they lay, with soil being mounded over the remains, and the area then being fenced. It is not clear how 
many hut burnings resulting in deaths happened in Lupane, although at least two are on current records. 



99 



If it was the will of affected communities, relatives of the deceased and the authorities, these hut sites would also 
provide ideal cases for forensic investigation, although cause of death can be harder to establish in the case of burnings 
(See "cause of death" following). 

4. 

Graves in 5 Brigade camps: those detained at Bhalagwe in Matobo, report the existence of burial grounds within the 
camp. Ex-detainees, particularly from the early weeks, report the daily digging of graves as one of their chores. Almost 
every interview about Bhalagwe alludes to daily deaths in the camp, as a result of beatings or shootings. Who victims 
were is not clear, or exact numbers (see previous discussion on page for more details). However, it seems clear that 
some, if not all, of the graves at Bhalagwe were dug up and the bodies removed, while the camp was still in operation. 

The policy of disposing of bodies changed, or became supplemented within a few weeks, with the throwing of bodies 
down mine shafts. Visits to Bhalagwe in November of 1996 showed the grave sites to have been dug up, although the 
position of the graves is still clearly visible. Eye witnesses involved in the burial procedure recount how at the time of 
burial, bodies were covered with asbestos sheeting before the soil was added, and then further sheeting demarcated the 
graves clearly. Pieces of this sheeting are still in the now-empty graves (see photo, page ). This could suggest that the 
graves were only ever intended as a temporary measure, and were designed in such a way as to facilitate later 
identification of the sites and removal of the bodies. Certainly, the use of the asbestos sheeting is not a normal burial 
procedure in Zimbabwe, nor was it used in Matabeleland North, where people had been murdered by 5 Brigade the 
previous year. 

5. Mine Shafts: there are reports of human remains in mine shafts in both Matabeleland North and South, though these 
are more common in Matabeleland South where such shafts abound. In two instances in the 1990s, human remains have 
been found in mine shafts. In the first instance, they were found in "Old Hat Mine No. 2", in Silobela in the Midlands, 
and then remains were also found at Antelope Mine, near Bhalagwe camp in Matobo. Interviews on record, both 
archivally and recently, refer to the nightly departure of trucks from Bhalagwe, taking away bodies. Accounts by 
villagers living near the mine confirm that this was the destination. 

Those interviewed in Matabeleland South also mentioned Legion Mine, near Sun Yet Sen in the far south of Matobo, as 
a possible site for the dumping of bodies. Sun Yet Sen was used as an interrogation and detention centre by 5 Brigade in 

1983 and 1984. 

"Old Hat Mine": bones were found here in 1992, and CCJP attended their exhumation. Unfortunately, this was not done 
by forensic anthropologists, and the bones were disturbed by the police, thus destroying potential evidence. The 
identification of 8 individuals was possible, 2 women and 6 men, but their precise identification was not possible. 

Bodies are known to have been thrown down mine shafts in the 1970s, by the Rhodesian army, and the first response of 
the government to finds in the 1990s was that these were Rhodesian victims. However, coins minted post-Independence 
and found in the pockets of the deceased, dated the remains in Antelope Mine to the 1980s. 

It is unlikely that positive identification of particular victims would be possible if bones were exhumed from mine 
shafts. This is a consequence of the fact that so little is known about precisely who was dumped into particular shafts. 
However, such exhumation could be important in terms of validating historical claims. 

Evidence of peri-mortem trauma (ie trauma at point of death) might be detectable on the remains. Items such as coins 
could also help date time of dumping. It is not unlikely that any extensive exploration of mine shafts would also result 
in the exhumation of victims from the 1970s, although again, precise identification of victims would be difficult. 

REGIONAL DIFFERENCES IN BODY DISPOSAL 

There seem to be regional differences in body disposal between Matabeleland North and South. In 1983, killings in 
Matabeleland North were more open and the repression was generally more visible, but in 1984 in Matabeleland South 
the modus operandi became more clandestine, with victims more frequently dying in 5 brigade camps than in the village 
setting. There were also fewer killings in 1984. 

The disposal of bodies seems to reflect this change in strategy. In 1983 in Matabeleland North, bodies were more 
commonly disposed of in individual or mass graves in or near villages, or inside burnt huts. At the end of 1983 and in 

1984 in Matabeleland South, bodies were disposed of in mine shafts and mass graves located inside 5 Brigade camps, in 
particular at Bhalagwe, but also at Sitezi and other bases. 

100 



The change in body disposal suggests that the 5 Brigade modus operandi deliberately became more secretive in 1984 
than it had been in 1983, particularly where killings were concerned. This change in strategy might have been related to 
growing pressure from local and international press and human rights groups, including from CCJP who were operating 
within the country, and had made several appeals to government by this stage. This observation might be modified in 
the light of future evidence. 

To summarise the regional differences: 

1. "Burials forbidden" is reported to date only in Matabeleland North. 

2. "Mass graves" in village settings are reported in all districts, but are more common in Matabeleland North. 

3. "Hut burnings" resulting in deaths have to date only been reported in Matabeleland North, mainly from western 
Tsholotsho and Lupane. 

4. "Deaths in 5 Brigade Camps" are reported in all areas, but in Matabeleland North such deaths are not common: 
method of disposal in Matabeleland North is also not clear. In Matabeleland South, deaths and temporary burials mainly 
at Bhalagwe and also at camps in Gwanda and Bulilimamangwe are reported. 

5. "Mine shaft disposal" is reported mainly in Matabeleland South, but there are also reports of this in Matabeleland 
North. 

5. OBJECTIVES OF EXHUMATION AND RECOVERY OF HUMAN REMAINS 

- Exhumation assists the relatives of the victims in their right to recover the remains of their dead or missing loved ones, 
so that they can carry out the customary funeral rights and mourn their dead. Families and affected communities may 
see the procedure of identification of their dead, or even the willingness to attempt this, as a necessary step towards their 
own emotional healing. 

- Exhumation can provide physical evidence to help in the historical reconstruction of events, and to validate one 
version of events over another. Forensic investigations can end historical controversies. - 

The evidence can be used in court if necessary. 

National awareness and acknowledgement of events would follow revelations from the exhumations, which could 

further help the process of healing for survivors. 

1. Cause Of Death: forensic anthropologists only deal with skeletal remains. Therefore, if the cause of death did not 
affect the skeleton, then there is no way of establishing the cause of death with certainty. 

For example, in cases of hut burnings, it may well be that not all, or even none, of the skeletons will show signs of 
burning. However, some hut burnings were allegedly accompanied by shooting of victims trying to escape, in which 
case there might be skeletal evidence of bullet wounds. There will also be circumstantial evidence, such as testimonial 
evidence and the finding of burned elements associated with the remains, such as charred clothing. 

Fatal gunshot wounds are likely to involve human bones, particularly shots to the head or thorassic regions, which is 
where fatal gun shot wounds are typically found. However, shots to the abdominal region will not necessarily cause 
skeletal damage, and can cause death. 

2. Identification of Human Remains: the process of identification of victims is a physical one. Physical or "pre- 
mortem' information about the victims when they were alive (such as height, age, dental records) and "peri-mortem' 
information relating to the time of their death obtained from those who witnessed their death, can be compared with 
exhumed skeletal remains. For example, if a certain person was witnessed to die from a shot to a particular part of the 
body, and a skeleton shows corresponding damage, this helps differentiate this victim's skeleton from others in the same 
grave. 

In cases where there are no existing dental records for victims, and no witnesses to help with precise causes of death, it 
is very difficult to identify bodies. Bodies exhumed from 5 Brigade camps and bodies from mine shafts would have a 
poor chance of positive identification, as there are no witnesses who can say with certainty who was buried where. 



101 



In the case of bodies in mass graves and burnt huts, the prospect of identification is high, as names of victims are largely 
known already, and deaths were witnessed. There should be good peri mortem or circumstantial evidence to confirm 
cause of deaths. 



6.FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY AND HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATIONS - A BRIEF HISTORY AND 
OUTLINE 

Forensic sciences are a group of interrelated disciplines which utilise different scientific methods to analyse physical 
evidence related to legal cases. When working on legal cases involving skeletal remains forensic anthropology is among 
the main disciplines involved. Considering the time elapsed and the condition of burial sites recently observed, forensic 
investigation could be useful in Zimbabwe. 

Forensic anthropology consists in the application of methods and techniques from physical anthropology and forensic 
medicine to legal cases in which skeletal or mainly skeletonised remains are involved. It is considered a branch of 
physical anthropology. The physical anthropologist applies his/her knowledge about how bodies vary over time and 
place to a legal or forensic context. There are several other disciplines involved in this task. In order to recover the 
remains in the proper way, the use of forensic archeology is crucial. This simply consists of the "application of standard 
archeological techniques slightly modified to meet the requirements of crime scene processing where a skeleton(s) or 
buried body(ies) is present." Other skills involved are: forensic pathology, odontology, ballistics, radiology and 
genetics, among others. 

The use of forensic anthropology in the investigation of human rights violations started in Argentina in 1984. Argentina 
returned to democracy in December 1983. The newly elected President Dr. Raul Alfonsin, created the National 
Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP). The Commission established that at least 10 000 people 
had been disappeared under the previous military regime (1976-1983). Bodies had been dumped from aeroplanes into 
the sea, illegally cremated or buried in anonymous graves in cemetries. 

In order to ensure impartiality and expertise, a group of American forensic scientists under the leadership of Dr. Clyde 
Snow was assembled, and several forensic teams in South America were trained over the next ten years. These are the 
Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Team, the Chilean Forensic Anthropology Team and the Argentinian Forensic 
Team. In the USA, the Physicians for Human Rights and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences 
(AAAS) continue to promote and assemble teams of experts for specific missions. They work internationally in 
interdisciplinary teams, as expert witnesses or international consultants invited by local judiciaries, or by 
intergovernmental bodies such as the United Nations War Tribunals and the United Nations Commissions of Inquiry, to 
help resolve human rights issues. 

These teams of forensic anthropologists are all non governmental and non-profit making. 

Since 1984, forensic anthropology has been used in investigations in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, 
Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, Haiti, Mexico, The Philippines, Iraqi Kurdistan, Romania, 
Croatia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Ethiopia. 

PROCEDURE USED IN FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS: 

1. Preliminary Investigation: 

i) This involves the gathering of historical information about the case under investigation, including official 

records, eye witness accounts etc. 
ii) Pre-mortem data collection: collection of physical information about victims, such as medical and dental 

records, old X-rays, height etc. Peri-mortem information is also gathered, that is information on injuries 

sustained at the time of death. 



2. Archeological Work: 

The archeological approach provides a rational way to recover and reconstruct events, ensuring evidence is not 
damaged, recovery is complete, and that documentation is adequate. 



102 



3. Laboratory Analysis: 

Using techniques from physical anthropology and medicine, it is possible to establish stature, sex, age at death, 
ancestry, pathologies and lesions, dental features etc of the exhumed skeletal remains. 

Pre-mortem and peri-mortem data is then compared with skeletal remains to try to establish their identities. In countries 
where the affected populations are largely poor with little access to medical and dental check up and where there is 
therefore little pre-mortem data, new genetic methods involving the extraction of DNA material from remains and 
comparing them with DNA material from likely relatives can help identify victims. 

7.RECOMMENDATIONS 

l.The Will of Affected Communities: it is essential that no steps be taken without consultation with communities and 
relatives of the deceased. Some may wish for exhumation, while in adjacent areas, others may not, for cultural or 
personal reasons. 

2. Judicial Proceedings: Exhumations should be done through the intervention of judges in order to keep a legal record 
of the proceedings and findings, even in situations where no legal prosecutions are to follow on findings (such as in 
Zimbabwe). 

3.Exhumations must be professionally done: There are teams of forensic anthropologists and organisations around 
the world who are expert at this type of work. They have accomplished successful exhumations in several Latin 
American countries, and also in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Ethiopia, Rwanda, among other places. 

A short exploratory mission: a first mission by an international forensic team, lasting two or three months, would 
ideally include different types of cases to fit the categories of human remains listed above. For example, one burnt hut 
and one mass grave could each be excavated. A mine shaft identified as having a high likelihood of remains could be 
excavated, and a 5 Brigade camp could be examined. 

4.Depository for Human Remains: in cases where exhumed remains are not identified: 

a.)establish a general data base in the hope that identification might ultimately be possible, and 
keep the remains available at a specific centre and under control. 

b.)if it is not possible to keep remains unburied, do not rebury underground, but keep them in an 
above-ground sepulchre, so that remains will not be affected by the organic activity of the soil. 
If this is not possible, due to economic or cultural constraints, remains should be reburied in the 
hardest possible container so that they could be retrieved and re analysed if necessary. 

6.Protection of the sites: sites should be protected from tampering. Those living close to sites should know who to 
inform if there is a sudden interest in them. 

7.Establishment of a Symbolic Shrine: the existence of a place where the remains of missing or disappeared or 
unidentified people are buried or commemmorated has a symbolic value in many countries. Relatives of victims often 
express the strong need to have a place where they can remember their loved ones, pray, or follow other cultural 
practices of mourning. Communities in Zimbabwe may - or may not - decide after consultation that they would like to 
establish such a shrine, or shrines. 

The establishment of such public places has, in other countries, implied a social and national recognition of what 
happened: in Zimbabwe, the current clandestine or "abandoned" graves do not allow for this. The lack of broader 
acknowledgement is apparently a source of deep disturbance for the relatives and witnesses of the tragic events. 

Such a shrine would break the secrecy. The unspeakable, currently limited to secret memories, would be brought 
out into the realm of historical and social reality. 

In summary, the process of exhuming and identifying human remains is one that should aim to show a respectful 
acknowledgement of events, and to commemmorate the suffering of the survivors. The process also serves as a 
testimony to other sectors of the population and is a reminder to future generations. The suffering of victims and 
survivors should also be placed in a broader social and historical arena. 



103 



REPORT ON THE 1980S DISTURBANCES IN MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS 

Compiled by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, March 1997 



APPENDIX A 

A i: Catholic Commission For Justice and Peace in Bulawayo: example of a completed interview form. 

CASE 281 M 

Transcribed as follows: 
Covering Note: 

Statement, Page 2: 

Page 4: 

WAS DEATH REPORTED: No, because of fear 

WAS A DEATH CERTIFICATE ISSUED: No. 

WAS THERE A WILL, OR WAS DECEASED'S ESTATE ADMINISTERED, HOW/BY WHOM: 

No, his dues from sick contractors were never collected. 

WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS FACED BY SURVIVING DEPENDANTS: 

Birth certificates, schooling, clothing, food. 

A ii. Bulawayo Legal Projects Centre: example of a completed MISSING PERSONS QUESTIONNAIRE 

CASE 729 AG: cross refer CASES 730 X, 731 X : SDL WANE INCIDENT: describes some the events on this day 
when 52 people died here, all in the vicinity of their homes. 

Transcribed as follows: 

Statement, Page 2. 

Medical Report - attached 

This is to certify that AM from was admitted to this hospital on 7 February 1983 after sustaining a gun shot wound 

through his right hip crushing the head of the femur and the osileum of the pelvis. He remained an in-patient until 20 

March 1983 and eventually made a good recovery. A. iii Bulawayo Legal Projects Centre: example of completed 

HUMAN RIGHTS FACT SHEET 

CASE 3344 ASD 

Transcribed as follows: 

Statement, Page 3 

Page 4 

DAMAGES SUSTAINED: Personal injuries or permanent disability: 

Pain over both shoulder blades and loss of my sight. 

A iv: Bulawayo Legal Projects Centre: example of completed HUMAN RIGHTS MEDIA REPORT 



APPENDIX B 

B i MEDICAL RECORD: "List of Patients admitted to Hospital with injuries afflicted by members of the 
Army." 

5 pages attached . 

B ii Example of a letter written to CCJP official in 1985. 

Transcribed as follows 



APPENDIX C 



C i United Nations Report on Disappeared Persons, 1996: pages 1-7 and page 85 
C ii The Reconciliation / Uxolelwano Trust Deed 



104 



APPENDICES 



APPENDIX A 

DATA COLLECTION FORMS 

Ai: CCJP Interview Form 

Aii: BLPC Missing Persons Questionnaire 

Aiii: BLPC Human Rights Fact Sheet 

Aiv: BLPC Media Report 

APPENDIX B 

EXAMPLES OF CCJP ARCHIVAL DATA 

Bi: Hospital Record, 1983 

Bii: Letter written to CCJP official, 1985 

APPENDIX C 

Ci: United Nations Report on Disappeared Persons, 1996: 

pages 1-7 and page 85 

Cii: The Reconciliation / Uxolelwano Trust Deed 



105 



LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 

5B5 Brigade 

ANCAfrica National Congress 

AP(s)Assembly Point(s) 

ASS Assault 

BLPCBulawayo Legal Project Centre 

CCJPCatholic Commission for Justice and Peace 

CIDCentral Intelligence Department (Police) 

ClOCentral Intelligence Organisation 

ColColonel 

DADistrict Administrator 

DetnDetention 

GSWgun shot wound 

HR Data BaseHuman Rights Data Base 

LCFHRLawyers' Committee for Human Rights 

LRFLegal Resources Foundation 

Lt ColLieutenant Colonel 

MNRMozambique National Resistance 

PISIPolice Internal Security Intelligence unit 

PVprotected village 

RDFRhodesian Defence Force 

SUSupport Unit (Police) 

UNHCRUnited Nations High Commission for Refugees 

WHO World Health Organisation 

ZANU-PFZimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front 

ZANLAZimbabwe African National Liberation Army (armed wing of ZANU-PF) 

ZAPUZimbabwe African People's Union 

ZIPRAZimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (armed wing of ZAPU) 

ZCBCZimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference 

ZNAZimbabwe National Army 

ZRPZimbabwe Republican Police 



1