Rhodesian attempts to assassinate VP Nkomo

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1969

AT some point during the Second Chimurenga the Rhodesian
racists decided that the best way to kill the Zimbabwe revolution would
best be achieved by killing leaders of that revolution.
No wonder once the decisive phase of the liberation war had kicked off in 1972, from then on leaders of freedom fighters became targets of assassinations.
It was therefore not surprising when Herbert Chitepo who was at the helm of the ZANLA army operating then out of Zambia was assassinated in 1975.
This was followed by the assassination of Jason Moyo who was also at the head of ZIPRA.
Below we chronicle the many attempts made by the Rhodesians to assassinate the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo who was based in Lusaka at the time.
These attempts to kill the late VP Nkomo took place in the period 1978/1979. The former leader of the Selous Scouts one R. Daily and PJ H Peter Bowyer a former Rhodesian Air force
commander as well as former ZIPRA fighters help us with our story.
The Rhodesians decided to kill the late VP Nkomo at his home in Lusaka hoping that would, ‘cause major disruption to ZAPU’s
leadership and profoundly affect morale.’
And the task was initially given to the notorious Selous Scouts, the ‘Masikuziapo’.
The ‘Masikuziapo’ looked at various options at assassinating the former VP Nkomo, but eventually settled to use a radio activated car bomb.
A white Selous Scout named Antony White was tasked to carry out the operation.
‘A suitable car, a Ford Escort was clandestinely taken to a ‘safe’ house in the suburbs of Salisbury (Harare) where an explosive
wizard Captain Charlie Small and an Australian signals technician together got down to converting the car into an enormous claymore mine.’
Once the car had been fully turned into a car bomb, it could be set off from a long distance by using a radio.
Antony White the Selous Scout left Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and went ahead of the car bomb to Lusaka and sometime later the car bomb was brought to him there by an ‘African who drove it’ (car bomb) through Botswana to Zambia.
By the way Antony White had gone to Zambia under the guise that he was a British Taxidermist who was based in Kenya.
The plan was ‘to preposition the Ford Escort (the car bomb) along a route commonly used by VP Nkomo each morning when driving to his office from home.
However, despite the Selous Scout Antony prepositioning the car bomb seven times on what he expected to be VP Nkomo’s route, ‘Joshua Nkomo used a different route each time and Antony (the Selous Scout) – – missed him every time.’
The Selous Scout Antony tried all tricks in the Rhodesian book to bomb former VP Nkomo using the car bomb, but failed.
In the end one day as he was busy prepositioning his car bomb on what he thought was former VP Nkomo’s route for the day, ‘he was waylaid by members of the
Zambia Youth Wing who set about him and administered a severe
beating.’
And so in the end the car bomb idea was abandoned.
A new assassination attempt was mooted.
This time the commander of the Selous Scouts tells us that, ‘my proposal was to infiltrate another Selous Scout into Zambia, but this time his task be restricted to surveillance.
Then when the time and information was right we would launch a conventional military assault on target. (Vice
President Nkomo’s) house while he was in residence and kill him’.
And so the Selous Scouts sent a spy called Martin Broadman to do the recce of former VP Nkomo’s place.
The assault force which would follow him once his surveillance work had been done was to be led by one called Richard Pomford a commander in the Selous Scout regiment.
The spy Martin got to Lusaka and once there sent word one day back home that VP Nkomo was at home and the assault party was then welcome to get to Zambia right a way to kill him at his house.
The assault party on hearing that took off immediately by helicopters and were dropped in Zambia.
But that raid failed again because the Selous Scouts for reasons best known to themselves shot at one another as they advanced towards VP Nkomo’s house and the operation was abandoned.
The Selous Scouts did not give up.
They made another assassination attempt this time by dropping attackers by parachute right at former VP Nkomo’s home.
Therefore a Dakota plane took off with the attackers, but when they got to Lusaka, their plan again blew up in smoke and once again they had to abandon the operation altogether.
Finally it was decided by General Peter Walls the overall Commander of the Rhodesian forces that the Selous Scouts had dismally failed to kill former VP Nkomo and so he sent them packing.
In came their best special forces outfit – the Special Air Service (SAS) in short.
The SAS assault party crossed into Zambia using boats via Lake Kariba.
On landing in Zambia they got into military vehicles belonging to the Rhodesian army which had been secretly smuggled into the country and painted in Rhodesian military colours.
Once they got into those vehicles, they drove off from Kariba and headed straight to Lusaka – to the late VPt Nkomo’s house.
When the Rhodesian invasion force got to Lusaka, at the late VP Nkomo’s house, he was at home.
What then transpired goes down in ZIPRA history as the ‘great battle of Lusaka’.
The Rhodesians themselves acknowledge that they were given a good run for their dirty and bloody money when they say a ‘battle royal raged between the SAS and ZIPRA.’
They go on to tell us that once they had attacked the late VP Nkomo’s premises, ZIPRA ‘fought back tenaciously.’
As a matter of fact, ZIPRA fought back courageously that the Rhodesians were kept completely at bay enabling the former VP Nkomo to leave the battle scene.
Happily the racist Rhodesians were never able to kill the late VP Nkomo, despite all the numerous attempts they made on his life.

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