Murder, most foul in Mberengwa

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The story of Cde Ravai Shava

BY 1977 Mberengwa was almost a ‘liberated zone’.
Cde Angels Muparadzi, who operated with Cde Mhere Yenyoka and other six comrades, came to our village, Mposi, and told us to gather five strong young boys.
We were told at a pungwe meeting that we were to raid cattle at Costas Raft, about 18km from our village.
Costas Raft was a Rhodesian business centre that had a social club, shops, fuel station and a butchery.
Mberengwa Police Station, Vanguard Mine and Greenspan farms were also close to Costas Raft.
Our mission was to take place during the night.
It was in December.
It was a rainy season night – moonless and pitch black.
This was to our advantage.
We quietly walked for an hour in the darkness, to our target.
I was excited because this was my first time to go on a mission with freedom fighters.
Although we had no guns, my fellow mujibhas, Ngonidzashe Chamakofa, Munatsi Shavai, Johnson Mapangure and Takunda had confidence in the guerillas; we knew they were ‘untouchable’.
Our first target was the supermarket.
We managed to break into the shop and filled the empty sacks we had to the brim.
We went to hide the goods before we went back to the other shops.
Upon our return, Cde Mhere Yenyoka told us to swiftly move towards G, this was Naught’s farm, about 10km away.
It took us 60 minutes of trotting to get to Naught’s farm.
Graham Naught was a cruel Rhodesian and I was happy we were to take cattle from his farm.
We cut off the wire fence and drove out 20 Brahman cattle.
It took us five hours to get to Chivonero Forest which was on top of Dumbwi Mountain.
Villagers were gathered, waiting to feast.
Cattle meat from the farms was now popularly known as ‘bvopfi’ in Mberengwa while it was called ‘cabbages’ in some parts of the country.
All beasts were slaughtered and the meat shared among the villagers.
Groceries were also shared among the villagers.
We spent the whole night singing, dancing and celebrating our successful raid.
Our celebrations were disturbed by the rains.
We all took our share of groceries and meat home and left the guerillas on the mountain.
The following morning, a helicopter hovered over the villages.
In the helicopter were Rhodesian solders and one of them was shouting through a loud hailer.
“Dzoserai mombe makaonekwa!”
By this time, I was in Mande Village herding cattle with my friends.
We were on top of a mountain and could clearly see Rhodesian soldiers approaching Majabhura homestead.
There were people at the homestead slaughtering a beast for their African rituals.
The Rhodesians opened fire on the innocent villagers, instantly killing all who were gathered around the carcass.
Evelyn Majabhura was sitting on a rock breastfeeding her son.
Poor Evelyn was not spared.
We kept still on the mountain, fearing for our lives but could clearly see what was going on at Majabhura homestead.
Rhodies proceeded to the huts where they force-marched people to the kraal for interrogations.
People were forbidden to cry as the interrogation was carried out.
I was perturbed when I saw people being beaten by Rhodies but there was nothing I could do.
I will never forget Evelyn’s son suckling milk from her dead mother’s breast.
Rhodesians left the homestead after they had thoroughly beaten everyone, leaving many dead and others half-dead.
We descended from the mountain after we were convinced the Rhodies were gone.
We rushed to the kraal intending to give help, but all the people lying in a pool of blood were lifeless.
I then took Evelyn’s son who was still suckling milk from the corpse.
They baby cried for milk, little knowing his mother was no more.
I took the baby to my mother who later took him to his relatives who had fled to Chomukoto Valley.
During the liberation struggle, Chomukoto was a valley with a lot of cover and Rhodesians never dared go near it.
It became a refuge for villagers whenever Rhodies attacked. The boy, orphaned on the bloody bath, grew up healthy and was renamed Masariroona, loosely translated ‘survived to see’.
He is now happily married and the couple is blessed with three children
Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande

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