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Police block city Gukurahundi event

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THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on Saturday stopped a memorial service meant to remember victims of the Gukurahundi massacres.

On Saturday morning, on the supposed day of the commemorations, anti-riot police were seen milling around Stanley Square, in Makokoba.

Scores of people who had converged for the service were dispersed.

Four men who tried in vain to plead with the police were taken to Mzilikazi Police Station where they were detained before being released.

Mbuso Fuzwayo, secretary-general of Ibhetshu Likazulu, the organisers of the event said he tried in vain to obtain police clearance to hold memorial prayers for the Gukurahundi victims.

“After the January 18 prayers, which were held outside the Bulawayo Baptist Church where people were barred by police from entering the church, we applied for police clearance to hold our commemorations, but to no avail,” he said.

“Police cited unlawful demonstrations as their concern,” he said.

Fuzwayo said this time Ibhetshu Likazulu went through all the required procedures, but were denied clearance.

“We were even summoned for meetings, but the law enforcement agents were adamant that the commemorations agenda could raise emotions and stir violence among the people,” he said.

“The police clearance, therefore, could not be granted.”

The event, which has been foiled for the second time this year, is meant to take place annually in remembrance of an estimated 20 000 people who perished in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 1980s in what has become known as the Gukurahundi genocide.

Former Roman Catholic Church’s Bulawayo arch-diocese bishop Pius Ncube challenged the police who blocked the January memorial service for failing to respect freedom of expression.

President Robert Mugabe’s successive governments have avoided demands for compensation of Gukuruhandi victims and the reburial of those whose remains were dumped at mass graves across the provinces.

Mugabe has described the massacres as a moment of madness.

— Radio Dialogue

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