Rape of minors in Rushinga…Rhodies violated, tortured girl-child

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Rhodesian soldiers forced Stella Chafa to watch them while they raped girls in Rushinga.

The story of Stella Chafa

THE life of the girl-child was fraught with hardships during the liberation struggle.

The girl-child became an easy target for the infamous Rhodesian soldiers and their fellow Auxiliary forces.

They were raped and tortured in a bid to make the masses lose heart.

In February of 1977, I witnessed Rhodesians raping my sisters and that forced me to join the liberation struggle as a collaborator at the tender age of 12.

Rhodesian forces had been disciplined by freedom fighters coming from their military base in Rushinga for their routine military operations.  

ZANLA freedom fighters had ambushed and killed Rhodesian Forces some few kilometres away from Chimanda Primary School. 

The victorious attack was tactful and lasted about twenty minutes.

We later learnt that 13 Rhodesian soldiers perished in that attack and ZANLA freedom fighters escaped without casualties.

That successful attack led to the closure of our school.

Harrowing scenes remain etched after I witnessed my sister and her friends raped. A spy had reported them to be working with the ‘terrorists’.

All girls from our village, Chigwida, were gathered at the headman’s house to witness the consequences of working with Rhodesians’ enemies.

The torture of my sister and her friends commenced around mid-day.

They were beaten until they lost consciousness.

We were then forced to eat rotten raw meat of cattle which had died after eating poisoned grass.

I was later chosen together with Dorcus Gwaze, Winnie Chigwida and Rudo Mupotsa to go with my tortured sister and her friends to a Rhodesian military base in Rushinga.

I could not believe my eyes when we arrived at that military base after an hour’s drive in a Rhodesian military lorry.

The sorrowful faces of villagers I saw were testimony of abuse and torture.

Most of the captives were young girls and women whose crime was feeding the guerrillas.

That day we were locked in barracks made of iron sheets.

I spent the whole night shivering, we slept on the floor without any blanket.

I was struck with fear when the door was opened at dawn.

This was the beginning of a horrific experience, they poured cold water on us before interrogation started.

I will never forget seeing my sister being raped.

I dared to scream and jumped at the soldier who was raping my sister.

I was grabbed by a black Rhodesian soldier who thrashed me thoroughly beating until I bled. Helpless, I was left numb, watching my sister violated.

I was left to watch the horrible rape of my sister and friends.

What perturbed me most was the fact that whites took turns to rape all victims before their African inferiors later took turns to rape their own kith and kin too.

Imagine someone raping a bleeding young girl.

As if it was not enough, Rhodies went on to insert cooking sticks into private parts of all the bleeding victims.

We were thrown back into the dirty cell after they were done with us.

Up to today, I do not know how I survived being raped.

We were detained for three days, surviving on cow peas before we were released.

During our detention I witnessed more than 20 girls raped and tortured by the heartless animals.

All victims were captured from Katera, Chimhanda, Mazoe Bridge, Kaitano and Gwangwava.

Upon our release we were forced to walk more than 17km.

We were intercepted by Rhodesian forces as we approached Mazowe Bridge.

We were again beaten after the Rhodies learnt that we were coming from Rushinga military base.

They accused us of being prostitutes serving freedom fighters.

One of the senior girls suggested that we go to a base where freedom fighters would give us assistance to cross over to Mozambique for military training.

Going back home was no longer an option.

The base was along Mazowe River in Chimhanda village.

We met freedom fighters who then assisted us with medication.

I was told to go home since I was a minor

That was the last day I saw my sister because she never came back home after the war ended.

I hope that Rhodesian forces will one day be punished for abusing the girl-child during the liberation struggle.

Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande 

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