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‘Rhodies murdered my brother’

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The tear-jerking story of Cde Rosha Muhondo 

MY name is Farai Muchoko and this is my story. 

I joined the ZANLA forces to avenge my brother’s death. I will live to remember January 5 1977 when my elder brother, Richard, was apprehended by Rhodesian soldiers at our homestead in Musami Village, Chipinge. 

I was 15 years old at the time. 

Our school was closed because of the heavy Rhodesian military operations in my area since our rural home was very close to the Mozambican border. 

There was also an influx of young boys and girls crossing into Mozambique to join the liberation struggle. 

Felix, my other brother, was a mujibha or war collaborator. 

Prior to his apprehension, he was spotted coming from Nyamudeza Store where he had picked up a parcel meant for the freedom fighters. 

The parcel contained clothes and canvas shoes sent by Pachena Madokwenyu, who was employed in Salisbury, now Harare. 

During the liberation struggle young adults in paid employment assisted in the war effort by donating clothes and shoes to the freedom fighters. 

I had a rude awakening one day when the door to my room was kicked open by a Rhodesian soldier. 

It was around 6.00am. 

In no time the room was swarmed with Rhodesian soldiers — six of them — all brandishing NATO assault rifles. 

And when one of the soldiers shouted out my brother’s name, I immediately sensed he was in trouble. 

Felix tried to run for his dear life, but he was floored by a violent kick to the mid-riff. 

One of the soldiers grabbed my brother and dragged him outside. 

They took turns to assault him, demanding information on the bases used by the freedom fighters as well as names of fellow villagers who were working in cahoots with the comrades. 

He feigned ignorance and this infuriated the Rhodies who viewed it as an insult to their dignity. 

They beat him up to a pulp and left him for dead. But when they realised he was still alive, they forced us to carry him into their Land-Rover and immediately drove off to their military base at Middle Sabi. And that was the last time I saw my brother because he never returned home afterwards. 

Something tells me my brother died a painful death. 

That night, at a pungwe (all-night virgil), I took the life-and-death decision to leave for Mozambique for military training. 

The tragic story of my brother’s brutal assault and subsequent death at the hands of the Rhodesian forces touched Cde Muhondo Tiritese, who vowed a revenge attack on the enemy. 

During the pungwe, I told Cde Muhondo of my decision to cross into Mozambique to join the liberation struggle, which was now entering its decisive stage. 

My goal was to avenge my brother’s death at the hands of Ian Smith’s ‘dogs of war’. 

I vowed to kill as many Rhodesian soldiers as I could as soon as I completed my military training. 

According to Cde Muhondo, there was a group of schoolboys (and girls) destined to leave for Mozambique the following week. 

The latest group was comprised of youths from Mutema, Manesa, Tanganda and Bangwe. 

I begged him to allow me to join them and the answer was ‘Yes’. 

That day marked the beginning of my journey towards the liberation of my motherland, Zimbabwe. 

After the pungwe, I never went back home. I stayed at the Base with the freedom fighters because I feared the Rhodesian soldiers would be baying for my blood – just as they did with my late brother. 

D-day finally came. 

Cde Muhondo escorted me to a base along Tanganda River in the middle of the night where I met my fellow guerrillas-to-be. 

That same night, we walked to Mount Selinda and crossed the border into Mozambique the following morning. 

We were intercepted by FRELIMO soldiers for interrogation before we were led to a ZANLA transit camp where we met fellow young Zimbabweans en route to Chimoio for military training. 

I trained at Chimoio’s Takawira Base 1 and was deployed to the war front in January 1978. 

I later heard that vanamukoma attacked and destroyed a Rhodesian military base at Middle Sabi in an act of revenge for my brother’s demise. 

I operated in ZANLA’S Tete War Province which was then under the command of the late Air Marshal Perrance Shiri. 

My heart still bleeds today because my parents died without the benefit of closure with regard to my brother’s murder. 

Nearly 50 years later, I am also still trying to come to terms with my brother’s death at the hands of the Rhodesian security forces. 

May his dear soul rest in eternal peace. 

Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande 

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