I lived to fight another day

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The story of Samuel Muchakati aka Cde Muchaira Dhuze IN the summer of 1977 I was deployed to Manica Province and operated in Musikavanhu Sector under Mutema Detachment A. Musikavanhu sector covered Chipinge and Chimanimani. Comrades in my detachment included Cde Farai Chamuka Inyama, Cde Mabhunu Muchapera, Cde Zvenyika Muhondo and Cde Kabaya Hondo. We came to the front on a special mission. We were to attack the Grand Reef, a Rhodesian airbase in Mutare, but our presence was soon noted by the Rhodesians, we had been sold out. And the mission was aborted. We were split into smaller groups and deployed to various sectors, we did not return to the rear. My group was deployed to Musikavanhu Sector, in Chipinge. There were 12 of us. And to avoid detection on our way to Musikavanhu, we split into two groups. The journey to the sector was long and would take us about eight days. As we travelled we lost contact with the other group, we had our coordinates mixed. We established that we were in Musani Village and one of the comrades, Farai Chamuka Inyama had an uncle who stayed in the village. We took a rest as Cde Farai Chamuka Inyama accompanied by Cde Zvenyika went into the village to find his uncle. After an hour of waiting the comrades returned with food. They told us that the uncle, one Chitengwa, had told them that Rhodesians were patrolling the area. We ate our food and rested for the day in Devuli Mountains. Cde Farai Chamuka Inyama’s uncle had a son Gondai who was a mujibha and was going to help us locate our fellow comrades, but at around seven o’clock we heard sound of helicopters. And the helicopters were dropping para troopers. They were dropped almost a kilometre away from our base. And gun fire erupted. The other group we were trying to locate had made contact with the Rhodies. A vicious battle ensued. We advanced towards the Rhodies and opened fire on them. The enemy was confused. Upon realising that they were fighting a losing battle, Rhodesians called for reinforcements. The battle became vicious as the Rhodesians’ reinforcement came in swarms like bees. Grand Reef, the airbase, was not far away. I carried a mortar 82 which I fired until I ran out of ammo. But we were soon surrounded by the reinforcements. I spotted three Rhodesian soldiers coming my way. I crawled to a nearby bush, but there was not much cover, there was no vegetation, it was summer. I covered up myself with leaves. The three came towards me and I thought my time and fight was up. I removed the clip of the grenade I had, I would not die alone. Unbelievably the Rhodies passed right by me, they did not spot me. I guess they thought I was just another log in their path. Sweat poured from my body pumped by a mixture of fear and relief. I would live to fight another day. I kept still for more than 20 minutes as the Rhodesians roamed the battleground. I headed to the gathering point where I met the rest of my group. We suffered no casualties. Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande

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