The story of Elvis Magombedze, aka Cde Rosha Muhondo
THE cruelty of Rhodesian soldiers who terrorised the people of my home village, Nyabadza, under Chief Ngwende and the impact of political orientation aired on Radio Maputo led me to join the liberation struggle.
I will never forget June 27 1977.
An old man, of the Mhofu totem, from Nyamutsamba Village, got into trouble with the Rhodesians.
I was 22 years old.
I had gone to the shops to get a parcel from the then capital city Salisbury on behalf of freedom fighters operating in our area.
It was from one Elvis Munatsi who worked in the capital.
During the liberation struggle, young men who worked in the cities helped freedom fighters with clothes and shoes.
I didn’t know the old man, I only heard of his totem from those who knew him.
I was shocked by the sudden silence in the shop as a Rhodesian jeep arrived.
It was just before I received the parcel for the freedom fighters.
I was struck with fear when an African soldier in the Rhodesian army got into the shop.
We were all force-marched out to the Rhodesian jeep parked a few metres away from the shop.
The old man was accused of feeding guerillas.
We were all taken to Nyamutsaba Business Centre.
The Rhodies paraded us and intended to demonstrate to the people how ‘terrorists’ and those who supported them were dealt with.
There was dead silence as an African-Rhodesian soldier started addressing us.
In his address, the black soldier, a sellout, told us that white settlers were angels sent from heaven to save us from ‘African paganism’
What riled me the most was that this black soldier, serving the enemy, had no kind words for the freedom fighters and villagers who supported them.
He said that he was ready to kill anyone who was revolting against British colonial rule which brought ‘civilisation’ into the country.
This horrible speech took about 30 minutes.
I will never forget the horrible black Rhodesian soldier who began torturing Mhofu with the bayonet of his gun.
The old man groaned in agony.
The Rhodies untied him and left him lying, lifeless, in a pool of blood.
I was hurt to see life slowly ebbing out of the old man and there was nothing we could do to assist him.
Helping him would result in a serious cruel backlash from the Rhodesians.
That horrible scene haunts me to today.
The Rhodesians left around midday after Mhofu had breathed his last.
His body spent the whole day at the shops.
I rushed to Samaringa Mountain where the freedom fighters were based.
I narrated the ordeal to Cde Shasha yeZimbabwe, Cde Tanga Neropa and Cde Teddi Makanda.
That day I told Cde Shasha yeZimbabwe that I wanted to go to Mozambique to join the liberation struggle.
I wanted to avenge Mhofu’s death.
I made a vow to kill as many black soldiers serving in the Rhodesian army as I could; they were traitors.
Why would they defend white interests.
Cde Shasha told me that there was a group leaving for Mozambique the following week from Bonda.
He told me they were going to cross Kairezi River into Mozambique.
I begged him to allow me to join the group.
I was delighted when he agreed.
That night, I joined Cde Shasha Yezimbabwe and his fellow combatants who went to the shops to collect the body for burial.
I spent a week at a base along Kairezi River waiting for other ZANLA-to-be cadres.
We crossed safely and were intercepted by FRELIMO soldiers who interrogated us before taking us to a ZANLA transit camp where we met other young Zimbabweans who wanted to join the armed struggle.
Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande.