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Malunga’s PhD thesis breaks new ground on Gukurahundi



ZIMBABWEAN human rights lawyer Siphosami Malunga (pictured), son to the late nationalist leader Sydney Malunga, has graduated with a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, with a thesis which breaks new ground on how to hold perpetrators of Gukurahundi massacres accountable.


Malunga’s interesting thesis — Evaluating the Individual Criminal Responsibility of Gukurahundi Perpetrators under International Law — breaks new ground evaluating whether individual criminal responsibility (ICR) is attributable to perpetrators of the Gukurahundi atrocities committed in Matabeleland and Midlands between 1983 and 1987.

At least 20 000 people were reportedly killed in the genocide.

The criminal liability of Gukurahundi perpetrators is evaluated against the legal requirements garnered from conventions, jurisprudence of international criminal tribunals and the work of leading scholars.

Firstly, Malunga provides an overview and historical development of the concept of ICR under international law.

Second, he examines the theories of criminality under international law. Third, he analyses the forms and modalities of ICR, including relevant specific crimes. Fourth, he evaluates the individual and superior responsibility of Gukurahundi perpetrators.

A crucial feature of international criminal law is the legal obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of international crimes.

Malunga therefore explores the different ways in which ICR could be attributed to perpetrators of the Gukurahundi international crimes. He set out to advance knowledge and understanding of possible mechanisms to hold perpetrators of the Gukurahundi atrocities criminally accountable under international law.

Malunga now holds a PhD in International Law from the University of the Witwatersrand. He is currently programmes director at Open Society Africa. He was previously executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.

 Malunga is a human rights lawyer and an advocate for justice, transparent and accountable governance.

He has previously held United Nations posts around the world focused on democratic governance, development, peacekeeping, post-conflict recovery, justice sector reform, and transitional justice.

He is also an international criminal lawyer, was lead defence counsel in the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in East Timor and defended the militia commander Johni Marques in the first crimes against humanity trial (Los Palos Case) and other militia commanders.

He is a regular contributor on political and economic governance, human rights and accountability issues in national, regional, and international publications.

Malunga’s most recent publications include: “Defending Open Societies in the Context of Covid-19: The Role of Philanthropic Foundations in Responding to the Pandemic and the Case of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa”, International Review of Philanthropy and Social Investment (2020); “The Killing Fields of Matabeleland: An Examination of the Gukurahundi Genocide in Zimbabwe,” African Yearbook on International Humanitarian Law (2021); “Unpacking Gukurahundi Atrocities Against the Ndebeles of Zimbabwe: What Are the Possibilities for Individual Criminal Responsibility of the Perpetrators Under International Criminal Law?” and “A History of Atrocity: Patterns, Perpetrators and Prospects for Accountability for International Crimes in Zimbabwe” in: Lubaale E.C, Dyani-Mhango N. (eds) National Accountability for International Crimes in Africa, Palgrave Macmillan (2022) and “Evaluating the Individual Criminal Responsibility of Gukurahundi Perpetrators Under International Law”, Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa (2023).

Malunga also holds an LLM from the University of Oslo and an LLB from the University of Zimbabwe.

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