The Story of Cde Monica Matore
IT is now 40 years since I witnessed a horrific incident that I will never forget.
Rhodesian soldiers descended on our village and not only tortured but raped some young girls.
The psychological wounds inflicted from this scene from hell have not healed to this day.
I was born in Sanyati, Chenjiri African Purchase Area.
My father, Misheck Matore, was a polygamist with five wives and 30 children.
He was a hard worker running a retail shop at Deep Tank 1 and was also engaged in small-scale farming at Farm 15 to sustain his big family.
I am the second born by his fifth wife.
My educational experience at Temeriya Primary School forced me to support the liberation struggle at the tender age of 12.
The enrolment process into primary school was conducted in a ridiculous manner that obviously did not apply to white children.
One had to be able to touch his or her ear — the hand going over the head to touch the other side ear — to be allowed into school, which resulted in many Africans enrolling into primary school very late.
I started Grade One when I was 12 years.
My aunt, who was a housemaid in Kadoma, working for a white family, told me that white children went to Grade One at the age of six.
This was the time segregation dawned on me.
My father also supported the liberation fighters by giving them clothes.
When I was in Grade Three, I helped in the shop.
I will never forget the cold afternoon of June 1978 when my mother left me in charge of the shop as she went home to get some lunch.
It was not busy since it was a Monday. I was playing with my friends when a collaborator came to the shop with a letter.
My mother had instructed me to give a bag that was in the shop to the bearer of the letter.
I complied and gave the bag to the collaborator, a serious-looking young man.
I was in the company of my friends, Gladys Kanengoni and Saziso Mazivanhanga, playing nhodo close to the entrance of the shop when this young man in his late teens arrived at the shop.
I never doubted that this man had been sent by the freedom fighters.
The ZIPRA forces were operating in our area.
Cde Themba, Cde Naison, Cde Richard Chivaru Cde Sevy, Cde Junk, Cde Stalin and Cde KGB were some of the ZIPRA cadres operating in our area at that time.
We proceeded with our game soon after the departure of the young man.
I soiled my pants upon realising we were surrounded by Rhodesian soldiers armed to the teeth.
The African soldiers, among the Rhodies, instructed us to follow them to the main road, about a kilometre from our shop, where their military truck was parked.
Much to my surprise, the young man was in the jeep.
The young man’s face was swollen and he was bleeding from the nose.
This was when I realised we were in trouble, big trouble.
The two-hour drive to the Council Rest Camp was horrible because the black soldiers took turns to slap us, asking us about our homes.
I got the shock of my life upon arrival at the rest camp.
My father was already there. We found him sprawled on the ground, half-dead.
I was slapped hard when I rushed to him; it was a mind-numbing clap.
There were also other victims; men, boys, women and girls, all who had been rounded up for supporting the ZIPRA forces who operated in the area.
We were later screened and taken to different cells; women and girls were taken to their own cell.
That was when I first saw a person being electrocuted.
Old women were electrocuted while young white soldiers wrote down everything they said.
The Rhodies were interested in knowing the movements of the ZIPRA forces in the area.
There were about eight girls from our area who were in their late teens, with some being in their mid-20s.
The commander announced time for break.
I felt happy that at least our mothers were being relieved — little did I know the worst was to come.
The older girls were stripped naked.
I was the youngest of the girls; very short and scrawny, which probably saved me.
The girls were taken into another room and the white soldiers, several of them, followed.
And when the whites were done with the girls, the African soldiers also raped their own, without any sense of remorse.
The older women and I were instructed to sing while we witnessed this horrible torture.
Rape became the order of the day for the next four days.
My father was released after a week but later succumbed to the wounds of this torture.
Four of the raped girls committed suicide.
Up to today, I get flashbacks of that horrific moment.
Rhodesians have a lot to answer for.
Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande