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‘She listened until the screams from her husband disappeared’ – Jestina Mukoko recalls the Matabeleland massacres

The Abduction and Trial of Jestina MukokoFormer broadcast journalist and human rights activist Jestina Mukoko was interviewed by The Freedom Collection about Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

In 2008, Mukoko was abducted and tortured because of her work with the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

Her book, The Abduction and Trial of Jestina Mukoko: The Fight for Human Rights in Zimbabwe, is a gripping and chilling account of Zimbabwe’s history.

Mugabe came to power in 1980, when Mukoko was entering high school. She says she remembers Mugabe as a charismatic leader.

“In those early years he was really everyone’s hero. We had just come from a protracted liberation struggle, and he came out as a hero of that struggle. In those early years we were basking in the euphoria of getting out independence.

“For me it took a bit of a while to really see the man that he was.”

Mukoko recalls talking to the women whose husbands had been killed in the the massacres of Matabeleland in the 1980s, when an estimated 20 000 people are thought to have died. She says it was the stories she heard from these people that really affected her.

“Some of these women had experienced their husbands being buried alive. I remember one woman saying to me she listened until the screams from her husband disappeared.”

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