Rhodies wiped out during Easter Holidays of 1978


The story of Isaiah Chasima

IN 1978, my white supervisor, who was two years younger than me, slapped me for coming to work late.

I was working as a welder at Steel Force in the then Salisbury (Harare).

The humiliation I experienced that day forced me to support the liberation struggle in order destroy the oppressive and racially discriminatory British regime.

Going to Mozambique from my home village of Rusike in Goromonzi was not easy.

I was encouraged by Cde Kambanje who was a section leader of freedom fighters operating in my area to assist with financial support. 

I then started buying cigarettes and I would give a local businessman, Jeche, money to buy the freedom fighters clothes and shoes.

I will live to remember an ambush that was laid by ZANLA forces in Gororo.

It was Easter Holiday and I had gone to the village with my girlfriend whom I wanted to introduce to my parents.

Chegorero varungu vakarakashwa.

A sellout had informed Rhodesian soldiers about the presence of ZANLA forces in our village.

This group of ZANLA forces had just arrived in our area.

Fortunately, the sellout was spotted at Rusike Shopping Centre on a drinking spree, splashing money. Mungati, a war collaborator, acted swiftly.

He rushed to Machiridza homestead where the freedom fighters were based.

Rusike area has no mountains and there is less vegetation hence the freedom fighters based in homes around the villages.

They were very intelligent.

During the day, they would help villagers with their daily chores and gather during the night for their operations.

Upon hearing the message of the drinking spree of the sellout, the freedom fighters arranged an ambush because it was obvious the Rhodies were coming for them.

Mungati was then sent to evacuate people who lived close to an abandoned homestead by the road.

The guerillas took positions in huge mango trees and patiently waited for the enemy to enter their killing bag.

We went to take refuge in a forest which was about a kilometre away.

At around mid-day, we saw a cloud of dust and heard the neighing of horses.

In no time, we heard gunshots and we knew the enemy had entered into the killing bag.

The enemy was caught unawares.

There was intense fighting for about 20 minutes and then, eerie silence.

We remained in the forest because we knew Rhodesian reinforcements would come anytime and we didn’t want to be caught in a crossfire.

I was shocked when I heard a loud explosion accompanied by huge flames.

The guerillas knew reinforcements would come and had swiftly planted land mines along the road.

The plan worked; four Rhodesian military trucks were blown skyhigh.

We later saw spooked horses running around without riders.

I felt happy when I saw the horses without their riders.

Twenty Rhodesian soldiers perished in that battle.

The Rhodies also lost four military trucks and more than 40 soldiers who had come for reinforcement from their Goromonzi base.

Helicopters later came and hovered around but there was no gunfire exchange.

The guerillas were long gone.

It was a typical hit and run affair.

The enemy was left counting his losses.

The helicopters only landed when they were sure that vanamukoma were no longer in the area.

Two helicopters were not enough to carry their injured and the dead.

Later that day, two Rhodesian trucks with heavy escort came and picked the remaining corpses.  

The whole village was happy when we learnt from Lancelot, the collaborator, that all ZANLA combatants managed to escape without casualties. 

After that historic victory of the ZANLA forces, Rhodesians became cautious.

Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande.


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