The story of Arnold Makuvise
OUR ‘strength’ as Auxiliary forces lay in operating in our home areas.
We knew the people and the terrain.
Knowing the people saved my life and those of my fellow soldiers based at Chimudhuri Base, now Chinamora Police Station in Domboshava.
I will never forget the day as I almost lost my life in an attack by ZANLA forces.
I vividly remember seeing a boy I knew, Tapera Mawire, from Gwembeni Village.
Mawire’s elder brother, Tafadzwa, had left to join ZANLA forces in 1977 and his family supported ZANLA cadres.
I smelt a rat on seeing this boy selling eggs in ‘our’ camp on a hot afternoon one day in November 1978.
I told my superior, Jack, a Selous Scout, about the background of the boy and he swiftly took action.
T he boy was apprehended and interrogation followed.
Getting information from the slim and tall teenager was not difficult.
Electrical shock made him spill out all the details of his ‘mission’.
A combination of torture and threats to kill his whole family if he told anyone of the torture left us with the confidence that he would not talk of his ordeal.
We gathered from the boy that guerillas wanted to destroy our base and he was on a reconnaissance mission.
Promises of cash were given to the boy for co-operation and an order to misinform anamikonde mina, one of the names we gave ZANLA fighters because they mostly ate sadza as they did not have rations made up of tinned foods and biscuits we got from the Rhodesians.
The base would be attacked anytime; the boy was not sure about the date and time but a visit by the ‘terrorists’ was imminent.
The fact that the boy knew me and that I knew his family worked to our advantage.
Because of that fact, the boy knew I could easily trace him if he lied to us.
My superiors did not waste time and prepared to defend the camp.
Helicopters with heavy machine guns were put in strategic positions ready to crush the ZANLA forces.
A heavy reinforcement was also deployed and took strategic positions around the camp.
We anxiously waited for our prey.
We maintained our positions for 36 hours before the ‘terrorists’ came.
At around 8pm, the enemy entered our killing-bag.
The boy had complied with our orders and we closely watched ZANLA forces assemble their recoilless assault rifle.
A recoilless rifle is supposed to be mounted on a touring carriage with wheels for transport and firing.
Aiming is done with optical sight and its ammunition includes two-fin stabilised heat rounds.
The maximum range of the piece is 4 500m and direct fire is limited to 1 500m against stationery targets and 1 000m on moving targets.
Ichi chaiva chombo chihombe chekuparadza.
This was the biggest weapon the guerillas used at the front and they carried it in pieces since they did not have vehicles for operations.
This was our biggest advantage over guerillas whose main strategy was to hit and run.
We did not give them the time to attack as we went for the kill while they were in the process of assembling their killing machine.
Had it not been for the information supplied by that boy, the camp would have been razed down.
I eagerly waited for the order from our commander to fire at the enemy.
The order was given about three minutes after the arrival of ZANLA forces.
Our target – four comrades who were mounting their recoilless rifle.
Killing them was easy since we attacked them while they were assembling their rifle.
We stopped after about five minutes of relentlessly firing at the target.
The terrorists gave us a surprise return fire when we thought we were done with them.
Zvikopokopo zvakasimudzwa mumabunker.
Muzvikopokopo maiva nezvombo zvihombe.
The helicopters fired at the ZANLA forces.
Asi makomuredhi aya aiva nenharo.
They returned fire and held us for about 20 minutes before we silenced their AK rifles.
With the help of sniffer dogs, we searched for survivors and managed to capture four.
In that battle, we lost 13 of our soldiers and killed 16 ZANLA fighters.
We dug a big grave where we buried the fighters.
As it is the mass grave is close to the charge office at Chinamora Police Station.
Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande