A relative celebrates after HealZimbabwe Trust assisted the family to do a memorial service for its political violence victims, including a properly built grave and a headstone.
A tearful woman in Gutu narrated to other villagers during the memorial service for her husband, saying: “Soon after I discovered that my husband had been killed by the ZANU (PF) thugs I quickly covered him with a blanket and rushed to Gutu police station where I narrated my ordeal to six policemen who were on duty.
"Whilst preparing to accompany me to the scene of the crime, they asked me; Was your husband mugged by thieves? Where exactly did the crime take place? Do you have any suspect? When I told them it was well known ZANU (PF) supporters in Ward 6, led by Colonel Magumise, they swiftly retreated back and told me to go back home as they were not entertaining “political cases”
Eleven people were killed in Gutu during the run up to the 2008 political violence period but in all the murder cases not even a single person has been arrested in connection with the deaths.
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) have been singled out as the biggest impediments to justice as they have failed to make any meaningful arrests three years after the gruesome murders.
Heal Zimbabwe spent two weeks in Gutu from 20 June to 5 July 2011 assisting victims of the 2008 political violence most of whom are leaving in abject poverty after their means of livelihoods were destroyed during the violence period.
From the narrations made by survivors of the political violence, the perpetrators did not only murder their loved ones but also looted properties, household goods, cash and livestock which the villagers are demanding back from both the perpetrators and the Government.
They have cited the Government arguing that most of the people who attacked them were clad in army uniforms and had guns. The presence of the dreaded war veteran, Jabulani Sibanda, who has been intimidating villagers in past six months is also making it difficult for peace and harmony to prevail in Gutu.
Inaction on the part of the police coupled with utterances by Attorney General Johannes Tomana admitting to selective application of the law continues to hinder progress in seeking justice for the victims of political violence.
Findings from the violence-prone areas that Heal Zimbabwe visited this year point to deliberate hesitation and negligence on the part of the police in conducting their duties as far as cases of political violence are concerned.
This has come out from Mashonaland Central, Mt Darwin, Chaona, Chiweshe and Mazowe, where close to 30 people were killed during the 2008 political violence.
Issues Raised During the memorial services:
Inaction by the police in arresting or even questioning alleged perpetrators of political violence.
Loss of property and sources of livelihoods to the alleged perpetrators which victims are finding it difficult to replace.
Children of victims of political violence have dropped out of school as a result of failure to raise school fees.
The continuous presence of soldiers and purported war veterans who are victimizing villagers especially in Gutu continue to pose a threat to peace and stability.
From the information gathered from Gutu, it can be deduced that the political violence that rocked Gutu was spearheaded to a greater extent by members of the armed forces and people from local villages most of whom knew each other.
This has destroyed villagers’ trust in the security system and managed to destroy community relations as villagers are finding it difficult to co- exist. Two families relocated in 2009 as a result of the tension.
Programmes should be implemented that reduce polarization and tension in these communities and such a scenario is not common in Gutu alone but in other areas hit by the 2008 political violence.
What is more worrisome in Gutu is that from the cases dealt with by Heal Zimbabwe it seems the violence was systematic and targeted influential community leaders evidenced by the murder of Mr. Elias Mutasa, a School Teacher and the murder of Mr. Gari Michael Mundeyiri, an elderly village head of 87 years who was very active in the fight for the democratization process in his village.
This was a clear strategy to demobilize people from exercising their democratic rights especially towards elections.
Heal Zimbabwe continue to penetrate communities in its fight to restore community relations, promote peace and rehabilitate victims of political violence in Zimbabwe. Victims of political violence continue to reiterate that Justice delayed is Justice denied!!!
The woman (holding a baby) has been living as an outcast in her village since her husband was murdered in the election violence and she continues to receive threats from village members who took part in the murder of her husband – the same village members who buried her husband without her or her husband's relatives' consent.