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, 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
2. 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.
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
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 the1980s, 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
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
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 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
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.
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 1146-1168 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
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.
II : 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. Most clients were people who had been detained
under the Emergency Powers legislation. Several involved "missing
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.
1. 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
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.
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
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
"They came and took everyone in the line to the school. They
beat us and then they shot people dead, including my brother, named
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
This interview was coded in the HR Data Base as
a beating, not a rape, in accordance with the interviewees' assessment
of the event.
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
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
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
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.
III: HUMAN RIGHTS DOCUMENTS
1. 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. 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.
2.Richard Carver, Zimbabwe: A Break With the Past?
Human Rights and Political Unity:an Africa Watch Report, October,
3. Richard Carver, Zimbabwe: Drawing a Line Through the Past, Amnesty
International, June 1992:
4. CCJP Confidential Report on Torture in Zimbabwe, January 1987.
5.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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 116 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
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 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
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.
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, JoAnn 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)Jocelyn Alexander and JoAnn 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
3. Various other academic documents have contributed
to the writing of the Historical Overview in this this report, including:
i)D. Martin and P. Johnson, The Struggle for Zimbabwe, ZPH, Harare,
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.
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.
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
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 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
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.
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:
1.A 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.
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
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
TPhysical Torture: including electrocution, water
torture and other tortures not covered by above categories.
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.
1.HR.1 consisted of 2 152 entries, including all data collated up
until February 1996, from BLPC and CCJP sources.
2.HR.2 consisted of 411 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.1, 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.1,
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 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
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
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, Davee Boyd, reported that he had treated more
than a 100 assault victims with broken bones and stab wounds at
his mission hospital [in Gwanda District] between February and the
end of April .
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, 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
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 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,
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
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,
A conservative estimate of 50 present at such beatings
has been made.
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.