Girls and women raped in Dotito…need for closure to this nightmare

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The story of Cde Yemurai Kanyama

THE life of an African girl-child was horrific during the liberation struggle.

Rape and torture by Rhodesian forces was the order of the day.

It was a form of punishment for all girls accused of supplying food to the freedom fighters.

I will live to remember August 22 of 1977 when we were gathered at Headman Vanosenga’s homestead in Vanosenga Village, Dotito.

It was a Protected Village (PV), also known as a ‘Keep’.

Protected villages were created to stop freedom fighters from getting food supplies from villagers.

We stayed in Keep 18 and among us, were villagers from Mhakayakora, Kanyama, Jamu and Nosenga.

My mother was apprehended, together with two of my sisters, for supplying food to ZANLA freedom fighters.

The Rhodesian soldiers came early in the morning and they interrogated my mother over the issue of feeding vanamukoma (freedom fighters).

She and my sisters were to be punished in front of everyone.

This, according to Rhodesians, would serve as a ‘lesson’ to others.

One soldier instructed everyone to go to Headman Vanosenga’s homestead, which was about three kilometres from the protected village.

We witnessed my mother and sisters being tortured, assaulted and raped.

We were all forced to watch and sing while Rhodesian soldiers took turns to rape my mother and my sisters.

I remember I was only 12 years old.

As if that was not enough, minutes later, my father was brought in a Rhodesian military jeep with a rotten carcass of a cow which had died from some poison sprayed by the Rhodies. 

A fortnight before this terrible event, Rhodesian forces had stormed our area and announced that they were spraying our grazing fields in order to control tsetse fly.

It was clear Rhodesians had poisoned our grazing lands to kill our livestock since freedom fighters heavily relied on the livestock for food.

Cattle and goats died in their numbers.

The odour from the dead animal was unbearable as my father struggled to offload the rotting animal which was to be served as our lunch on that horrible day.

Young as I was, I couldn’t bear it.

Instinctively, I pounced on the back of the white soldier who was now raping my sister.

His African counterpart grabbed me and gave me a thorough hiding.

I was to suffer the consequences of my act.

My mother was beaten excessively after she tried to rescue me.

I was stripped of my clothes and a cooking stick was forced into my privates.

I cannot explain the excruciating pain that awful afternoon.  

I collapsed from excessive bleeding, only to gain consciousness a few hours later.

When I woke up, people were being forced to eat raw meat from the poisoned animal.

We were dismissed towards sunset, but some people were already frothing at the mouths and vomiting.

My mother’s condition became worse as it was accelerated by the poison from the raw meat.

She died that night.

My brother Takura Kanyama managed to locate freedom fighters who gave him medication which saved my sisters’ lives.

My mother was buried two days later.

I decided to join the liberation struggle to avenge my mother’s death, hence I relocated to Mavuradonha where I stayed with my aunt and worked with freedom fighters.

I would be grateful if these so-called human rights organisations address the violations of the girl-child and women by Rhodesian forces during the liberation struggle.

It is now 41 years since my horrific experience but the wounds are still fresh.

I need closure to this nightmare.

Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande

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