Rhodies ambushed in Masembura

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The story of Cde Fanwel Chonyera

THE vision of Cde Mudzimu Ndiringe’s corpse tied to a rope dangling from a helicopter still haunts me today.
Rhodesians were evil and cruel.
In 1974, at the age of 18, I left my home village Chonyera, under Chief Chinamora, Goromonzi, to look for employment in the then capital city Salisbury (Harare).
I will never forget my first encounter with brutal racism.
Tired and hungry, I entered a restaurant to look for food.
The restaurant was along Julius Nyerere Avenue, then Kingsway Avenue.
I was pushed out by coloured bouncers and fell on the pavement.
I was threatened with arrest because I had entered a restaurant reserved for ‘whites only’.
That experience turned out to be my inspiration to join the liberation struggle for our independence from the British imperialists.
I then went back to my village where I joined other war collaborators who worked with ZANLA freedom fighters.
Linos Chidhawu, Francis Guhwa and Perpetua Chidenga were among the collaborators I worked with in Chinamora and Masembura areas.
Our main responsibilities were supplying food to the liberation fighters as well as being their eyes and ears on the ground.
In 1977, a new group of freedom fighters came into our area, led by one Cde Mudzimu Ndiringe Muhondo.
Cde Mudzimu and his fellow freedom fighters Cdes Pfumo Rinobaya, William Sango, Tendai Vadzimu, Netsai Mabhunu, Fungai Chimurenga and George Tichatonga gave a hard time to Abel Muzorewa’s army, Pfumo Revanhu, and the Selous Scouts who were tormenting villagers in Masembura and Chinamora areas.
The victories of the ZANLA forces in their attacks did not go well with the notorious and cruel Roy Bennet who led the infamous Selous Scouts in the area.
Muzezuru, as Bennett was popularly known, offered Rh$6 000 for the head of Cde Mudzimu Ndiringe and Rh$3 000 for anyone with information leading to the capture of Cde Mudzimu.
Helicopters threw the fliers all over the place and a sellout from Matimha Village sold out Cde Mudzimu.
We later learnt that the sellout sent a student with a letter to Bennett who was based at Makumbe Mission.
Cde Mudzimu Ndiringe was coming from Mukwesha Village, where a pungwe had been held, when he was ambushed by Bennett and his soldiers at Makore Mountain.
I remember seeing three trucks full of soldiers while we were heading towards Makore Mountain, escorting the chimbwidos who had breakfast for the ZANLA guerillas.
We sensed all was not well and quickly changed direction and went to hide in the nearby bush, taking advantage of the cover since it was in January during the rain season, hence there was a lot of vegetation.
Cdes Mudzimu Ndiringe, Fibion Mukushi and Watchout Muhondo vakafa pahondo iyoyo.
Bennett took the corpse of Cde Mudzimu Ndiringe to Chief Chinamora to prove to the chief who supported the liberation fighters that they had killed the most famous guerilla.
After a week, a new group of guerillas arrived, led by one Cde Jimmy Crook, a coloured.
Auxiliary forces were now based at Tsvina Business Centre, together with the Selous Scouts.
Cde Jimmy organised a revenge attack.
I was tasked to do the reconnaissance at the business centre and for the next two days I was frequenting the business centre making observations of the movements of the Auxiliary and Rhodesian forces.
The Rhodesians were in a celebratory mood.
I supplied all the information to the guerillas and I don’t know how they planned the attack.
On the day of the attack, three groups of ZANLA guerillas were deployed on different positions around Tsvina Growth Point.
Most of the Auxiliary and Rhodesian forces had left for Bindura to get their salaries and the ZANLA guerillas patiently waited for their return.
Around mid-day, the trucks of the enemy approached Tsvina Business Centre.
We had already told villagers not to go to the business centre, an order we received from the freedom fighters.
Freedom fighters started attacking the Rhodies as they approached Chitunhu, a few kilometres before Tsvina Business Centre.
It was indeed a surprise attack.
They were massacred and only a few managed to escape.
The escapees were finished off by the other group of freedom fighters who had laid an ambush at Monwe deep tank.
That attack marked the liberation of Masembura area. Rhodesian soldiers only returned after two days to collect their dead.
I vividly remember three military Bedford trucks coming to collect the corpses of the enemy.
According to some schoolboys who were forced to load the corpses, several Rhodies perished.
Although Cde Mudzimu Ndiringe was killed and his body shamelessly displayed, his death was avenged by the death of tens of Rhodies and the attack liberated Masembura because Rhodesians never returned to the area.
Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande

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