The story of Cde Willie Mazarura aka Cde Mazarura Hondo
IN February, 1977 upon my deployment to the war front after completing military training at Chimoio in Mozambique, I was involved in an attack of the enemy that would go into the history annals.
We victoriously attacked a Rhodesian infamous torture base, Ruda Camp, in Honde Valley.
After that battle I was deployed to ZANLA’s Gaza war province which was under the command of Cde Freddie Matanga and I operated in Sector Two which covered Mberengwa, Mwenezi, Chivi, Zvishavane, Felabusi,Gwatemba up to Lower Gweru.
In February 1979 I was in charge of an attack that liberated Chief Mataruse’s area in Mberengwa.
At this point food supplies were a challenge as the losing Rhodesians now kept a close tab on the people.
Guerilla warfare largely depended on the masses, we profoundly relied on them for logistical support.
It was now 16 years of fighting and the Rhodesian government was locking people in ‘protected villages’ to cut the food supply to the freedom fighters.
The enemy also poisoned pastures around villages hence villagers lost a lot of cattle and goats which they used to feed us.
We then came up with a plan of economic sabotage.
We would send war collaborators to raid cattle from white farmers and destroy paddocks.
The meat was dried and would feed us and the villagers.
This worked out well and the meat was popularly known those days as makabheji because it was plenty and easily accessible.
I was now in charge of logistics for Mberengwa Detachment while Cde George Chiweshe was in charge of the Detachment’s commissariat and Cde Charles Tigwe was in charge of Detachment’s medical unit. Cde Zvichapera Tauya was in charge of Security and our commander was Cde Abiot.
We made up a good fighting team.
As the food crisis intensified in the area, we assigned Cde General Chaminuka’s section to go to the farms to raid meat and destroy paddocks.
The task was effectively carried out at a farm that belonged to Garfield Todd the former Rhodesian Liberal Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia during the time of The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and the farm of one Hoffman.
The raided cattle were taken to Chief Mataruse’s area where the cattle were slaughtered and dried before being distributed to villagers.
The dried meat was put in sacks and hidden in pits where the villagers would take small rations to feed their families and the freedom fighters.
That raid did not go down well with the Rhodesian soldiers who launched an operation to search for dried meat in villagers’ homes.
A convoy of four Rhodesian military trucks loaded with Rhodesian soldiers led by a mine detector arrived at Mwembe Primary School at around 6am.
Some villagers were apprehended and taken to Mataga Military Base for interrogation.
Two war collaborators rushed to our base in a mountain in Mhaka Village and told us about the Rhodesian presence in the area.
We swiftly responded and planned an attack to save the villagers.
We were 16 comrades who included, Cde Yoko, Cde Tichaitora Zimbabwe, Cde Baraka, Cde Nhamo Inesu Vatema, Cde Baraka, Cde Sugar Sugar, and Cde Danger Ropa, Cde General Chaminuka and Cde George Chiweshe who was our commander.
The plans were to attack the Rhodesians at Mwembe Primary School before they headed for Mataga.
We took advantage of vegetation cover and managed to walk to the school, undetected and took positions.
We waited for about 30 minutes watching the movement of people and the Rhodesian soldiers.
Villagers who were apprehended included the school headmaster Mr Mambo who was also accused of working with ZANLA Forces.
The first truck left with the captives and we waited till it was some distance away and then we attacked.
We had an upper hand since we were attacking from a higher altitude.
It was a surprise attack indeed.
The enemy tried to return fire before Cde Danger Ropa who had a Bazooka RPG-2 hit two of the enemy’s military trucks. We caught the Rhodies by total surprise.
I was delighted to see Rhodesian soldiers running around the school like headless chickens.
We were impressed by the damage we had done and strategically retreated to our gathering point.
Our gathering point was about eight kilometres away and we swiftly retreated before enemy reinforcement arrived.
A spotter Vampire, jet fighter flew past us as we retreated but did not notice us because of the vegetation.
We were happy when we realised that we all came out without any casualties.
That battle liberated Mataruse as Rhodies never returned again.
Compiled by Wilton Mutepfe