The story of Cde Agnes Sakureva
alias Tatambudzwa Chimurenga
THE aggressiveness of the Rhodesian army which terrorised us in my home village, Nyatate in Nyanga led me to voluntarily join the liberation struggle in 1976.
I was 16 years old and joined a group of ZANLA collaborators in my area.
I operated with Anna Nyakabawo, Juliet Nyahotsi, Teclar Bvirindi, Rosy Shorai Simango, my cousin sisters Sabina and Sarah Ruwende, my brothers, Robert , John, Nesbit, James and my cousin brothers Michael and Garikai.
Our task was to deliver food and clothes to the freedom fighters from the villages to the base, and most importantly, supply information on the movement of Rhodiesians.
We were young but not deterred to contribute to the armed struggle.
In November 1976 we were sold out. The enemy was informed that we had gone to deliver food to the guerillas who were at a base in Njinga Mountain.
I had gone with Anna Nyakabawo, Juliet Nyahotsi, Teclar Bvirindi and Shorai Simango.
I was struck with fear when I heard gunshots. It was my first battle experience.
I wet my pants.
In that instance, Cde Taakuya Netsoka hurriedly led us to a cave which was to the east of the mountain while his fellow comrades held the Rhodies.
It was a fierce battle that lasted about three hours.
I remained with my fellow collaborators in the cave and was relieved when Cde Rambanetsoka came to check on us around 8pm.
That was when I first realised that guerilla warfare was strategically structured because although this was a surprise attack, hence no time to prepare, the enemy felt our strength as we only had two casualties.
The battle exposed us and we were told by Cde Rambanetsoka that we had to go to Mozambique for military training.
There was no turning back.
We had to cross Gairezi River to Mozambique before dawn.
Going back home was a risk we could not take as we were now targets of the Rhodesian soldiers.
I was frightened and anxious at the same time.
In the dark we headed for Mozambique and crossed Kairezi at the break of dawn.
We joined a group of other recruits and it took us a month to get to Tembwe, a ZANLA training base in Tete, having passed through various ZANLA and FRELIMO bases.
I separated with my friends before receiving military training, it was the last time I saw most of them.
I was deployed to ZANLA Tete war province and I operated together with other female cadres whose main duty was transportation of war material from our rear base in Mozambique to the war front in Rhodesia.
In August 1977 I was involved in a historic fight where we defeated the Rhodesian forces and that battle was a clear indicator of ZANLA’s supremacy over the Rhodesian army.
We were 10 female combatants in the company of four male guerillas who were responsible for our security.
We received our ammunition for transportation at Chitima Base and we were transported by lorries and dropped as we neared the border.
We were dropped 10 km away from the border for security reasons.
We swiftly walked in the middle of the night and rested the following morning in Mount Darwin.
We were now in Nehanda Sector.
We rested in a certain mountain waiting for nightfall, as we only moved during the night.
Since there was no cover I suspect we were spotted by a Rhodesian soldier who was at an observation point.
Rhodesian soldiers relied much on their air force.
The Rhodesians would deploy a soldier on top of a mountain who would monitor the area and contact the Rhodesian Air Force when a guerilla unit was spotted.
It was around 6 am in the morning when a spotter jet flew over our base and we knew an attack was imminent.
I was with Cde Muchaneta Mabhunu, Cde Shingirai Hondo and Cde Zvarwadza Mwana WeZimbabwe.
Cde Ngwarai who was in charge of security gave orders that all female cadres with war material must advance strategically to the next base which was a few kilometres away while they would follow and fight the enemy.
I was carrying boozes for the Recoilless gun and my sub machine gun.
As we approached the mountain in which we intended to base, we were greeted by gunfire.
We were ambushed and had to fight our way through. The material had to be delivered.
We started firing relentlessly towards the enemy and the Rhodies retreated.
The fight only lasted 20 minutes.
We swiftly moved to the base in Mukumbura where we handed the material to the security commander of Nehanda sector.
I was delighted when I realised that we had suffered no casualties.
We waited for nightfall and proceeded to our gathering point across the border in Mozambique.
I will live to celebrate that battle.
Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande.