Gunfire rocks Chinhoyi


IN 1898, the British executed Mbuya Nehanda, one of the spiritual leaders of the Shona people.
Her crime; providing the Shona people with inspiration to revolt against the British South African Company’s colonisation of Mashonaland and Matabeleland.
Her last words, as she was executed on April 27 1898 were: ‘Mapfupa angu achamuka (My bones shall rise)’.
After her execution, the British celebrated.
They had crushed local revolts and uprisings, so they thought!
The British underestimated the power of Mbuya Nehanda’s words.
Years later, Mbuya Nehanda’s words came alive.
Indigenes once again organised themselves to fight against colonial rule.
Having failed to achieve desired results with the First Chimurenga, locals did not despair, leading to the Second Chimurenga.
In April 1966 a group of 21 ZANLA freedom fighters ‘sneaked’ into the then Rhodesia from Zambia.
The group then split into three groups as they had different missions.
Their aim was to cut power lines and attack white farmsteads.
A seven-man squad made up of cadres who had received military training at Nanking Military College in China headed for Chinhoyi.
The seven fought Rhodesian ground and air forces in the Battle of Chinhoyi on April 28 1966 which is largely considered the beginning of the Second Chimurenga.
The battle effectively became the first decisive military action against the Ian Smith regime after his infamous and illegal Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) of November 1965.
The date, April 28 is now commemorated as the day the Second Chimurenga began.
Reports of accounts by Dare reChimurenga member Obert Mazhandu indicate a meeting was held in Lusaka, Zambia, to discuss activities to be carried out by freedom fighters upon arrival in Rhodesia.
The group’s mission in Rhodesia was to hit targets in Chinhoyi as a signal to Rhodesians that blacks had come to reclaim their country through the gun.
The briefing from the then ZANU National Chairman Cde Herbert Chitepo was to target strategic sites big enough to destabilise the Rhodesian establishment and send it into panic mode.
“These guys chose the fighters as they were ripe to execute the mission,” Mazhandu said.
“The fighters then came to Lusaka where they were locked in a Clan transport vehicle in preparation for their mission in Rhodesia.
They were supposed to disembark somewhere close to Chinhoyi. Some contacts were already waiting for them with their ammunition.
When the seven fighters got to Chinhoyi, they stayed at some house for a few days studying their targets,” recounts Mazhandu.
Upon arrival in Chinhoyi, the team was assisted by people who included Mudhumeni ‘Nyikadzino’ Chivende.
The seven received help from Chivende and Alex Nharara who delivered explosives, medicines and other requirements on April 27.
For their part, the two were jailed for terms of three and five years respectively at Sikhombela.
The fighters briefed the two on their mission and for close to a month, the pair was their only link with the wider Chinhoyi community and the only ones aware of their hideout.
According to Chivende, after crossing into Rhodesia through the Zambezi River near Chirundu, the seven went to Chinhoyi.
Their intention was to destroy the power line from Kariba Hydro-power station which would plunge the country into darkness.
The act would be a signal to other groups that had infiltrated the country in Mutare, Rusape, Chegutu and Mvuma.
The group intended to blow up a pylon at Lion’s Den, but failed. It only resulted in a minor blackout in Chinhoyi.
Plans to carry out more sabotage acts went horribly wrong as one of the groups got into skirmishes in Chegutu which resulted in the death of a white commercial farmer.
This was not according to their original plan.
The death of the white farmer caused alarm among Rhodesians, and the Chinhoyi seven fighters’ plans were compromised.
Their presence was known and the Rhodesian forces descended heavily on Hunyani River, the fighters’ rendezvous just four kilometres from Chinhoyi and at about 9am on April 28, the first shots were fired.
The Rhodesian forces started shelling, aided by bombers and jet fighters.
The battle went on until 4pm.
Contrary to reports by some Rhodesians that the seven were killed before the battle started, it was only after they ran out of ammunition that the seven were killed.
It has been claimed by some eye-witnesses that the guerillas brought down about four helicopters of the Rhodesian forces, with several killed.
White soldiers collected several souvenirs from the battle site, marking their first combat against an organised insurgency.
However, the actual site where the bodies of the seven comrades were buried remains a mystery.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here