High Court Dismisses Application Blocking Mnangagwa From Exhuming Bodies Of Gukurahundi Victims
26 September 2020

Paul Nyathi

BULAWAYO High Court judge, Justice Martin Makonese has kicked out an application by a Gukurahundi survivor, Charles Thomas, Zapu and Ibhetshu Likazulu who were seeking an interdict barring President Emmerson Mnangagwa from exhuming Gukurahundi victims.

The litigants filed an urgent application at the High Court, citing Mnangagwa, Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe, Jenni Williams of Matabeleland Collective.

The litigants also cited National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Chairperson Retired Justice Sello Nare and the Commission as the 5th and 6th respondents.

In his judgment Justice Martin Makonese ruled the litigants failed to comply with the Constitution before approaching the court.

“The applicants did not seek the intervention of the 6th respondent (National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). The issue of Gukurahundi and exhumations has to be dealt with carefully and in full compliance with the requirements of the law. The manner in which this application was rushed to court without following the provisions of the Constitution particularly section 252 (f) is deeply concerning,” Justice said in his ruling.

“By his own admission, the 1st applicant asserts in paragraph 64 of the founding affidavit in clear and unambiguous terms that it is the 6th respondent who has the legal mandate to promote the programmes concerning peace and reconciliation in accordance with 252 (a) of the Constitution.

“One wonders why 1st applicant chose to file this urgent application before engaging the 6th respondent when he was well aware of the legal remedies available in the Constitution.”

The judge also took a swipe at the litigants for failing to verify the authenticity of reports that the defendants were in indeed planning to exhume victims of the 1980s atrocities.

“Before concluding, I need to point out that it is not only presumptuous to allege that 1st respondent (Mnangagwa) sought to conduct exhumations. The suggestion by the applicants is fanciful, scurrilous and unjustified. Applicants took no time to inquire whether the media reports were accurate and how these exhumations would be carried out. As I pointed out during oral submissions by the parties, the issue of Gukurahundi is emotive and sensitive,” said the judge.