The story of Cde Luckmore Masarira alias Cde Chipere Chemunyati
WE learnt from war collaborators that the Rhodesians, who had survived the Mupindimbi attack, had fled to another military camp at Basera, in Gutu.
We gathered at a base in the Dewende area in Mawanga Mountain where we met a platoon of about 32 guerillas from Bikita, led by Cde Dakota, who had come to reinforce us.
Cde Temarai addressed us and told us we had to pursue the Rhodies who had fled to Basera.
We would never forgive the Rhodesians for the 105 villagers they had massacred at Kamungoma.
We were determined not to have a single Rhodie in the area; it would be a liberated zone, a no-go area for the Rhodesies. It was the least we could do for the masses to ease their grief. Along with Cdes Kelvin Masango and Mopera Moto, we went for the reconnaissance of Basera Military Camp. Two elders, Mapondera and Simbi, who operated shops in Basera assisted us. Mapondera helped us get into the camp. We entered the camp in his lorry as his assistants delivering firewood.
The camp was clogged with Rhodesiann soldiers since some of them had come to seek refuge after we burnt down their Mupindimbi Camp to ashes, killing more than 50 Rhodesian soldiers.
The soldiers had also dug defensive trenches around the camp.
There were six Bedford military trucks and three armoured cars. We established five strategic attacking points. We carried out the reconnaissance for two days, remaining highly vigilant.
The Rhodies never suspected us to be guerillas and this was our first achievement, a clear sign of impending victory. Since we did the reconnaissance in broad daylight, we managed to get all the details of the camp.
We also managed to make a sketch plan of the camp and a strategy on how we were to attack Basera was made. Finally we were ready to make it a liberated zone.
The major obstacle we faced was cover, since the area lies in a dry region with very little vegetation.
We finally left the Rhodie camp to make final preparations for the attack, fully satisfied with our reconnaissance. The final preparations were done at a base on Dondofema Farm, the only place with adequate cover for us to plan without our presence being detected and the farm was owned by an African, which made it a relatively safe place.
Since we were facing the challenge of cover, we moved in small units to avoid detection.
It took us about four hours to secure our assault positions. Cde Teramai, our detachment commander, led that battle. We attacked Basera at around 10pm. Unlike at Mupindimbi, Rhodesians here were not relaxed — they had become more vigilant. This was one battle in which there was serious gunfire exchange.
It was a fierce battle; the Rhodies were well prepared.
A miracle happened at this battle and up to today, I strongly believe that the spirit of the innocent villagers massacred at Kamungoma came to our rescue.
The Rhodesians fired flares which lit up the sky and the whole camp, they really wanted to ‘deal’ with us and they were not backing down.
But the flares did not expose us, instead, they gave the comrades from Bikita who had bazookas the opportunity to hit the Rhodesians more accurately. The guerillas hit the Bedford trucks and armoured vehicles.
They were engulfed in flames and the just recruited among the Rhodesian forces were thrown into panic. This gave us the opportunity to intensify our fire onto the enemy.
We only retreated to the gathering point when the enemy stopped firing.
It took us about two hours to regroup. We all came out alive except for two casualties.
Our gathering point was about 10km from Basera.
We then planted landmines on the road that led to the Rhodesian camp to deal with the trucks that would come to check the damage and ferry the dead.
We planted the mines at around 4am and patiently waited for our prey on strategic positions on the mountain. By this time, our comrades from Bikita had already left.
I felt agitated when I saw a cloud of smoke from a distance of about four kilometers approaching our direction. All went according to plan as two Bedford trucks which were on the front of the convoy were blown by the mines. We swifitly attacked the other three trucks, blowing them with our boozes and retreated as fast as we could since we knew the air force would not be far behind since it was still morning.
The attack marked the liberation of that zone as Rhodesians never came back to that area again.
In our own way, we had avenged the gruesome attack of Kamungoma.
Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande.