Premium

How Britain chose 'willful blindness' to Robert Mugabe's notorious Zimbabwe massacres

Members of the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland in March 1983 Credit: AP1983

On a Saturday evening in January 1983, a platoon of red-bereted soldiers drove down the dusty main road of Thembani Dube's village in western Zimbabwe and set up camp at the missionary school. 

The following morning, Mr Dube recalls, he heard shots ring out from the direction of the school as they executed three local men. Later that evening, there was more shooting - this time from a clinic where school staff lived.  

"They lined up the teachers against the wall, told the headmaster to read from the bible, and shot them," he told the Telegraph. 

"The teacher at the end of the line survived, and he crawled all through the night until he ended up at our house where my mother tried to patch him up.

Margaret Thatcher's government ignored reports of massacres by troops loyal to Robert Mugabe (R), an academic claims Credit: Tim Ockenden/PA

"I remember they used my rain coat to stop the bleeding. I woke up in the morning and there was this guy with a gaping hole in his left side sitting by the fire place," he added. 

The ten-year old...

To continue reading this article

Start your free trial of Premium

  • Access all Premium articles 
  • Subscriber-only events 
  • Cancel any time

Free for 30 days

then only £2 per week

Access one Premium article per week

To continue reading this article log in to your Telegraph account. Or register now, it's free.
Registered customers can access one Premium article per week
HALF-PRICE OFFER
Unlimited access to exclusive stories.
Half price for one year.
  • Access all Premium articles
  • Subscriber only events
  • Cancel any time
Free for 30 days, then just £1 per week