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Human bones found at Bubi torture camp

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

Human remains suspected to belong to a member of the opposition, who was abducted and tortured for a month at a Zanu PF torture camp in Bubi, Matabeleland North ahead of the violent 2002 election, have been discovered.

The remains, complete with a skull, were discovered by builders last week, who were digging a foundation for a house a few metres from Lukona Primary School and Lukona clinic in Bubi’s Kenilworth area that is being turned into a township.

Ahead of the 2002 elections, Lukona Primary and clinic were turned into Zanu PF torture camps, where opposition supporters were brought for torture for days on end for daring to support the MDC then led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai.

Marvellous Muleya and Newman Magutshwa, then members of the MDC provincial security department, survived after escaping from the torture base after 31 days of being kept in pits alongside their colleague Thembeni Ndebele, who could not make it.

“Between 2001 and 2002, there were two militia bases in the area, one at the headmasters’ cottage at the school and another at the clinic just less than 200 metres apart,” a villager told Sunday Southern Eye.

“From Lukona Primary to the point where these human remains were found, we are 100% certain and with no doubt that those bones belong to an opposition member who succumbed to torture.

“We know a lot of people, some who have died, who were in charge of that torture camp if this matter is pursued to finality.

“We also know a significant number, who survived torture at that camp and can be witnesses.”

Abductions and enforced disappearances of government critics has become an established pattern since post-independence in Zimbabwe to silent dissent.

Patrick Nabanyama, who was a polling agent for former Education minister David Coltart in the volatile June 2000 parliamentary elections was reportedly kidnapped by suspected state security agents and war veterans from his Nketa home in Bulawayo.

He was never seen again, and was in August 2010 declared dead by the courts.

“The discovery of these remains tells us that, as Africans, bones of these people have refused to be silenced, the bones are speaking.

“It tells us that as a nation we have to confront our sad past, and deal with it in a manner that will bring justice and closure,” Mbuso Fuzwayo, the coordinator of Ibhetshu LikaZulu commented.

Ibhetshu LikaZulu has been memorialising suspected Gukurahundi torture camps.

Recently, suspected state agents destroyed a memorial plaque the pressure group mounted at Bhalagwe and Silobela respectively.

Former Nkayi South legislator Abednico Bhebhe, who was in May 2001 abducted, beaten and left unconscious in Nkayi by Zanu PF militias, on Thursday said he was pursuing legal action following the discovery of the remains.

“This (discovery) dovetails with what happened in 2002 when a member of our security department Ndebele disappeared here at Lukona where she was kept alongside Muleya and Magutshwa who managed to escape,” Bhebhe said.

“In their accounts, the two told us Ndebele was unconscious or already dead when they escaped.

“I once tried to pursue this matter,  but one of the family members who was key in that instigation died under mysterious circumstances.

“So when I heard that some bones had been discovered here, I knew that I was duty bound to pursue the case through all means necessary.”

The late former president Robert Mugabe retained power in March 2002 after an election many observers categorised as neither free nor fair citing widespread violence, intimidation and vote-rigging.

The election was held at the end of two tumultuous years of political change in Zimbabwe, which began with the formation of the MDC in 1999 and the 2000 constitutional referendum.

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