By Vumani Mthiyane
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) chairperson Retired judge Justice Selo Nare says the commission is trying to locate the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe reports on the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres as they contain vital information that will help the commission bring closure to the emotive issue.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace claimed that over 20 000 people were killed during the military-led atrocities, which occurred between 1982 and 1987, with most of the victims being innocent civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
In an interview with CITE on the sidelines of the 39th Independence celebrations at Phelandaba stadium in Gwanda, NPRC chairperson Justice Nare said the reports that were prepared by the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe commissions are nowhere to be found.
“As a leader of the commission my wish is to see justice prevailing and to amicably solve this problem that is dividing the nation,” he said.
“It unfortunate though that the previous commissions’ reports have been lost. Nonetheless, the government is still looking for the whereabouts of the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe reports.”
The Dumbutshena report contains the findings of a commission of inquiry into the disturbances at Entumbane and other demobilisation camps following clashes between Zipra and Zanla cadres in 1981.
The Chihambakwe Commission of Inquiry was established to investigate the killing of alleged political dissidents and other civilians in the Matabeleland region in 1983 and to gather testimony from villagers about what occurred.
Both the Dumbutshena Commission and Chihambakwe Committee reported to Mugabe at the end of their deliberations but the reports were never made public.
Justice Nare added that the NPRC will be visiting the Midlands and Matabeleland regions to carry out public hearings.
“We shall be soon carrying out public hearings with the affected people where reconciliation will be the main agenda. As well as taking people’s views on the way forward. President Mnangagwa has opened the doors for free dialogue without fear,” he said.
The public hearings will kick start during the first week of May in Kezi before moving to Gwanda, Tsholotsho, Lupane and Nkayi. In order to cover ground, the commission will be split into two groups, one responsible for Mat region while the other will deal with Midlands province.
Asked about the issue of documentation, Justice Nare said the government is in the process of exhuming the victims’ remains and take them for DNA tests for identification purposes.
“Exhumation exercise will start on the 27th of May at Sipepa in Tsholotsho district where there is a mass grave near the railway line.
“It has come to our attention that when it rains, some human bones are exposed.
“We are therefore inviting and hoping that relatives of the victims will come in their numbers to identify through DNA testing,” added the NPRC Chairperson.
President Mnangagwa recently announced that the government had put in place systems to ensure the atrocities are addressed.
These include the issuing of birth certificates and other identity documents to survivors, death certificates to families that lost relatives and medical assistance to victims as well as exhumations and reburials for those who died during the genocide.