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Nairobi, Kenya
I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on yebomimi@gmail.com The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010


A night before the crossing, Norman Duka and 32 other people in his group were transported to the Rhodesian border in a lorry. They stopped for the night close to Katambora. The guerrillas checked that their guns and supplies were in order. They went over their plans once more and took care not to leave any trace of their presence and everything had to buried or taken with them. 1
Prior to the crossing an ANC-ZAPU reconnaissance team had preceded the detachment to select the best route possible to Rhodesia. On the morning of
31 July 1967, Oliver Tambo, together with Thomas Nkobi, the secretary-general of the ANC, Joe Modise, Commander in Chief of MK and Ndlovo of ZAPU stood on the cliff like banks of the Zambesi River to witness the crossing of the main ANC-ZAPU force.
Norman Duka says John Dube 2 the overall commanding officer of the joint unit of 80 men 3 addressed the combatants just before they crossed the Zambezi River:
Today we are beginning the long journey home, home to those we left behind with a promise to return. We must each be determined to see our task through to the end. The enemy is strong, we must not underestimate his strength; but we too are strong. We are now trained and will meet their bullets with our own. 4
The Rhodesians had a routine aerial reconnaissance operation at the banks of the Zambezi River and the plan was to cross where the Rhodesians would least expect it. 5 The crossing point was hazardous. It was west of Victoria Falls and close to Kazangula where the Kariba Dam begins. Thomas Nkobi later wrote:
When we reached the river and were shown the places selected for crossing, we could not believe our eyes. The commander explained that those were the best points because they were hazardous and difficult and therefore the last places the enemy could suspect. 6
Two cadres moved to and fro across a strong Zambezi current from morning until late afternoon, conveying the party of 80 guerrillas to the other side. Crossing the river was no easy task. The combatants contended with a swift current, a deep gorge and sheer cliffs. As they crossed the Zambezi River, James April, 7 recalls how his close friend and comrade, Basil February 8 turned to him and said,' We are crossing the Rubicon. The die is cast'. 9
The crossing lasted throughout the night. Once the guerrillas had crossed the gorge into Rhodesia it was the early hours of the morning of 1 August 1967. The crossing itself was a closely guarded secret. This most probably led to the incorrect date being used by various authors; for example Morris quotes 8 August and so does Lodge. This confusion is compounded by the fact that the guerrillas themselves during interrogation deliberately gave the incorrect date of the crossing to the Security Police. 10 The Rhodesians did, however, claim to know through intelligence reports that the ANC-ZAPU planned a big crossing into Rhodesia. Still, the presence of the ANC-ZAPU guerrillas caught them completely by surprise.
Chris Hani, recalls the high spirits of the cadres, and that the cohesion between the MK and ZPRA guerrillas was ‘magnificent'. He adds, ‘After crossing the river, there was a spirit of elation and joy, due to the fact that we had already crossed the first obstacle, namely the river…' 11
The guerrillas enter Rhodesian soil
Once the unit managed to cross the Zambezi River, they rested for their first night in Rhodesia, and the next morning they started marching. A group of approximately nine guerrillas were sent to reconnoitre the area. They got lost and were never able to locate the main group. However, they later managed to reach Botswana. 12
As a precautionary measure the guerrillas favoured taking cover during the day and moved mostly at night. Norman Duka says that Commander Moloto decided it was best to rest during the day, because of the heat and to march during the night. The Rhodesian security forces described the modus operandi of the guerrillas. The group's intention was to move mainly at night and very little during the day. Their pattern was planned as follows:
Walk from dusk until midnight.
Rest from midnight to approximately 04h00 hours
Walk from approximately 04h00hrs until dawn.
Set up base camp and rest throughout the day. 13
The planners of the march estimated that it would take the South African-bound group 10 or 12 days to reach the South African border, if they were to head in the direction of how the crow flies. 14
The first week of the march
During the first days of the march the guerrillas made camp during the day and built small fires in the ground over which they warmed their tin food. Once the group set up camp, all positions were assigned in case of an attack. The posting of guards was done on a rotational basis. 15
Late in the afternoon the guerrillas would clean their camp and bury the fires and food tins. The group commanders would check that no presence of the guerrillas remained. At sunset the group would set off on their journey. During this period they saw not a soul, black or white. However, their pace was slower than anticipated and their rations were decreasing. 16
One evening the guerrillas neared a village. They saw cattle and people in the distance and decided to circle the village not wishing to make unnecessary contact with the local population. By the seventh day the group had run completely out of food and water was scarce. Everyone was hungry, thirsty and weak and their clothes were sweaty and dirty. 17
From the very beginning, the major problems that faced the guerrillas throughout their march, were a lack of water and a shortage of food. They were not familiar with the terrain and had expected ‘…to come across streams and rivulets with water'. 18 Instead, the further the guerrillas moved away from the Zambezi River, the drier the land and the scarcer water became. At that time, most people living away from the Zambezi River got their water from boreholes. Unfortunately, the commencement of the march coincided with the dry season in Rhodesia. The guerrillas marched for days without food. This lack of food and water necessitated earlier contact with people than expected.
The big ANC-ZAPU group marched for a week before they reached the Wankie Game Reserve. They had marched for about 300 miles through the bush when they reached the town of Wankie. 19 The unit sent someone to buy food supplies as the guerrillas had no pre-arranged contacts amongst the local population. 20 The chief who assisted the guerrillas had this to say:
Yes, it's very good that you people are here. And I am here not satisfied. The Smith regime they sent me without my consent and my people here to the stones. We can't plough. And after they put me here, they say I must watch for guerrillas not to pass through here, ja, ja. So I'm also fighting the boers, I'm going to help you all. 21
So the guerrillas were received with enthusiasm and given supplies. Be that as it may, Barrell argues that this contact was a grave risk, which the group had been compelled to make prematurely. 22
The detachment splits into two
In the northern part of the Wankie Game Reserve the detachment split into two, with each group going their separate ways. Leonard Nkosi claims the group split into three. 23 All other indications are that the ANC-ZAPU detachment split into two and not three: the bigger group was bound for South Africa and the smaller group for Lupane in eastern Rhodesia. As time went on smaller groups broke away from the two big groups. As the guerrillas progressed further into the game reserve there was only bush and animals. Poor maps and compasses did not help either.
Lennox Lagu 24 was the commander of the MK group consisting of about 56 soldiers heading south towards South Africa and included Chris Hani, Peter Mfene, Douglas Wana, Mbijana, Victor Dlamini, Castro, Mashigo, Paul Sithole, Desmond, Wilson Msweli, Shooter Makasi, Eric Nduna, Basil February and James April. 25
Whilst the second group consisting of 23 men headed east towards Lupane, with the intention of setting up a ZAPU base. The commander of this group was Madzimba Matho of ZAPU who was deputised by Andries Motsepe of the ANC. 26 Their mission was to go and blow up a bridge. 27
Who were the Rhodesian security forces that the ANC-ZAPU guerrillas would soon come into contact with?
The Rhodesian security forces consisted of the Army, the Air Force and the British South Africa Police (BSAP). There were close links between the police and the army and the two worked together to thwart insurgency actions along the Zambezi valley. In 1966 the Rhodesians set up a joint counter-insurgency organisation. However, the air force and the air arm of the police remained White only. 28 The Rhodesian airforce at the time of UDI comprised 99 aircraft. This was not adequate for battle, so South African assistance during the 1967 insurgency included the dispatch of South African aircraft for use by Rhodesians. 29
The Rhodesian army had three components namely the paratrooper Special Air Squadron (SAS) (White), the Rhodesian Light infantry (RLI) (White) and the Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR), (African but with White officers). At UDI the army consisted of 3 400 men. There were also 4 000 White reservists in four active and four reserve territorial force battalions of the Rhodesian regiment. 30
Within the Rhodesian army, Africans played an important role, as their tracking skills were invaluable to its White members. The Rhodesian regime claimed that the existence of the RAR was testimony to the support enjoyed by African Rhodesians. The majority of RAR troops were drawn from Rhodesia's East Victorian region; they were family connected and were from the Vakaranga tribe, i.e. part of the Mashona. A Guardian journalist asked an African RAR sergeant major why he fought for the Rhodesian security forces, his answer was:
I am fighting for Rhodesia. It is my home…They [the guerrillas] come with Chinese grenades and guns and the people are frightened of them. I am sorry for some of them, but this communist thing is no good for Rhodesia. 31
The army offered Africans the opportunity of earning a good salary at a time when unemployment was high. Maxey cites cases of dissatisfaction among African RAR members saying:
…the nationalists have claimed that some African members of the army have refused to fight in the Zambezi, and as a result, 113 soldiers were imprisoned in a camp near Salisbury, in February 1968. 32
When was the first guerrilla caught?
Celliers implies that the guerrillas miscalculated the attitude of the local black population who informed the security forces of their presence. 33 The Rhodesian Situation Report reveals that the first guerrilla was caught on 7 August:
One guerrilla was captured south of Wankie. Interrogation revealed that he was one of a gang of 6 consisting of 3 ANC and 3 ZAPU men. The ANC was heading for Johannesburg. 34
This is contrary to Shay and Vermaak's claim that on Tuesday 10 August, 35 the first guerrilla was arrested at a mission station near Wankie. Maxey says the Rhodesian authorities were unaware of the presence of the guerrillas until nine days after the initial crossing when a guerrilla was captured, about 70 miles from the point of crossing. 36
On Saturday, 12 August another guerrilla was arrested near Dett, approximately
30 miles from where the first guerrilla was arrested and a third man who was with him escaped in a stolen car and died in a shoot out with police near Figtree. 37 By now the Rhodesian security forces had gleaned information about the insurgent guerrillas. At first their information was insufficient and they did not realise the number of guerrillas involved and the full extent of the crossing. T he interrogation of the first two guerrillas caught gave the Rhodesians some idea that there were others in Rhodesia. It seems that the detained guerrillas used delaying tactics and did not reveal everything. 38 So the Rhodesian authorities only learnt about the full extent of the crossing a bit later. 39
The Battle of Nyatuwe 40
About a week after the detachment split into two the Lupane-bound group was the first to encounter the Rhodesian security forces. The Rhodesians realising the presence of the guerrillas, swiftly sent a RAR unit called Command 1 Brigade to the Wankie Valley area where the first clash between the brigade and the guerrillas occurred on Sunday 13 August, and lasted for about ten hours.
Comrade Rodgers, a Wankie veteran gives a vivid and dramatic account of the battle that took place between Wankie and Dett on the banks of the Nyatuwe River, which was dry at the time. 41 The Lupane-bound group reached the banks of the river early in the morning. After posting guards the guerrillas camped on the side of the river, which was meant to give, good cover against ‘airplanes, helicopters and distant people'. 42
After eating and making camp for the day the guerrillas noticed spotter planes circling their position overhead at about 07h00, which they ignored. This proved to be a fatal error. At about 08h30 the guerrillas heard a deafening salvo of automatic rifle fire and a “boer” voice bellowed: “SURRENDER”. 43 The spotter aircraft must have reported the position of the guerrillas to the Rhodesian ground troops. This sudden attack caused momentary confusion amongst some of the guerrillas although some managed to take position and return fire. Masimini was shouting at the top of his voice saying he will shoot any son-of a-bitch who ran away, ordering them to fire back. Others had merely taken cover and were not firing at the enemy…On the way I met Zami (Bothwell Tamane) who was alone manning another position, firing at the enemy. 44
An important moment in the battle was when the guerrillas tried to reach the hillock close to the river. The Rhodesians tried to prevent this from happening and bombed the guerrillas' position. At one point a White officer shouted: “Surrender, you're surrounded.” This was communicated through an interpreter in Shona and Ndebele. Rodgers asked Ronnie Dube of ZAPU to translate: “We will never surrender”. 45
The battle continued well into the afternoon. The Rhodesians had encircled the guerrillas and used two helicopters with 12.7mm machine guns to bombard them. 46
By late afternoon, when the firing from both sides had quietened down Donda was found with a fatal wound to the back. Masimini was badly injured and had lost lots of blood. The guerrillas tried carrying him with a makeshift stretcher. This did not help. Masimini told them to leave him behind and proceed, “the corridor must be opened at all cost”, he said. 47
After the Battle of Nyatuwe , the guerrillas left during the night leaving four dead cadres and a fifth seriously injured. The fifth guerrilla James Masimini insisted on giving cover to the retreating ANC-ZAPU guerrillas. He died in the morning in a shoot out with the Rhodesian security forces. In this skirmish two members of the RAR were killed and three wounded. 48

The Rhodesians drop leaflets – ‘Surrender or die'

During the Battle of Nyatuwe and the subsequent ones that followed, the Rhodesians tried to frighten the guerrillas by showering them with leaflets in English and Shona and called on the insurgents to “surrender or die”. The leaflets offered amnesty to the guerrillas if they buried their arms and then walked to the security forces shouting: ‘We do not want to die – save us – we are here'. The leaflets had little effect on the guerrillas. 49 See Appendix 7 for a copy of the leaflet. Appendix 8 is an example of the leaflets given to the local Rhodesian population by the authorities.

The South African Security Police become involved

By 17 August 1967, the South African Security Police were assisting the Rhodesian authorities with the interrogation of captured guerrillas and the following information was gleaned: 50 Two ANC guerrillas were arrested. A further four guerrillas were shot dead during a skirmish, of which two were ANC members namely, James Masimani and David Sibojeni. Another guerrilla was shot dead close to Wankie and another one that was arrested escaped. 51 In Botswana three guerrillas were arrested and are thought to be members of the ANC and PAC. One's name is George Muuyane.
During interrogation it was revealed that a group of 30 guerrillas of which between 16 and 20 are ANC members were told on Thursday 3 August to prepare for a journey to the Republic of South Africa. On Friday 4 August, a Landrover and other vehicles took them from Linanda near Lusaka, to a farm close to Livingstone. Here they were fitted out with backpacks and resources. They were taken straight from the farm to the Zambezi River. Between 08h00 and 04h00 the next morning they crossed the river in a motorboat that could take three passengers, at a time.
A Coloured man took them across the river
The guerrillas hid in the bushes and moved at night until they reached a place called Masue close to a railway line where the group of 30 split into two. One group followed the railway line in a southern direction and the other group moved off in an easterly direction. A ZAPU guerrilla led one of the groups. The group's instructions was to reach Bulawayo and go to the Old Location where they would meet an unknown ZAPU leader who would give them further instructions as well as explosives.
One of the arrested guerrillas told the Rhodesian Police that the group of 30 guerrillas consisted of 29 ANC members and one ZAPU member. Their instructions were to move south to South Africa by passing residential areas. They were also instructed to avoid Botswana because of a water shortage and the fact that the residents of Botswana were not sympathetic enough. Lieutenant Pretorius was certain that the farm mentioned is Drummond Park farm, the ANC camp, which is, situated 4,5miles north west of Livingstone and four miles north of the Zambezi River. 52
What happened to the Lupane-bound group after the battle of Nyatuwe?
The next engagement took place on 18 August 53 with the Lupane-bound guerrillas who were continuing with their march. The Rhodesians claim the incident involved 15 guerrillas at MJ950880. 54 Comrade Rodgers described what happened like this:
We continued fighting but were ultimately overpowered by the enemy. By then only seven of us were remaining, five ZAPU comrades, myself and Bothwell. 55
Eight guerrillas were killed, six were captured and one escaped. Large quantities of ammunition and arms were captured. 56

ANC-ZAPU issues a joint communiqué

On 19 August 1967, ANC Oliver Tambo and the Vice-President of ZAPU James Chikerema issued a joint communiqué outlining the military alliance between the ANC and ZAPU and the reason for the joint campaign. 57 Furious fighting has been and is taking place in various parts of Southern Rhodesia. From the thirteenth of this month, the area of Wankie has been the scene of the most daring battles ever fought between freedom fighters and the white oppressor's army in Rhodesia.
…We wish to declare here that that the fighting that is presently going on in the Wankie area is indeed being carried out by a combined force of ZAPU and ANC which marched into the country as comrades-in-arms on a common route, each bound to its destination. It is the determination of these Combined Forces to fight the common settler enemy to the finish, at any point of encounter as they make their way to their respective zones. 58

The South African-bound group continues marching south

The South African-bound group continued on its southward journey. The guerrillas were now hunting game and one managed to shoot a buck, which provided food for two days.
They became aware of the Lupane-bound group's skirmishes with the Rhodesian security forces as they had a radio with them. 59 On the twelfth day after crossing the Zambezi River, the guerrillas came to the Wankie valley. There they saw spotter planes flying very high. At a small river they filled their canteens and washed their socks and uniforms. Two groups scouted the area, the one looking for game and the other checking what was happening on the road ahead. No game was found and commander Moloto divided the remainder of the meat amongst the men. 60
Early in the morning of the 13 th day three of the guerrillas went hunting and spotted some zebras. They managed to wound one. Everyone was very happy and excited about the capture of the zebra that was too heavy to move. Instead the guerrillas moved to where the zebra was and made camp. Fires were built, the zebra was skinned and large chunks of meat were roasted. Duka remembers, ‘Everyone ate as much as they could. The men stacked their knapsacks with roast meat. The remainder of the meat was left behind.' At dusk, after this feast the guerrillas covered their fires, picked up their rucksacks and continued marching. 61
The guerrillas experienced another food shortage but continued marching. There was also no water. The next time they found water, they did not stop to use purifying tablets, and they hastily quenched their thirst. 62
The guerrillas marched for several more nights and had no contact with villagers. Their main priority was to reach South Africa without engaging the Rhodesian security forces. They saw lots of elephants and lions. The group stayed for about 10 days without food – and were forced to eat leaves from the trees. At one point they managed to shoot a dove and make some soup from it. 63
The South African-bound group clash with the Rhodesian security forces
About a week after the Lupane-bound group first clashed with the Rhodesian security forces the hungry South Africa-bound group noticed enemy aerial reconnaissance.
The guerrillas now more than ever moved only at night and dug themselves in during the day. Just before dawn they reached a large village. The guerrillas were very hungry. Whilst the group set up camp four comrades were sent to the village to see if they could buy a goat. Two unarmed guerrillas went to ask for food while the other two covered them at a distance with rifles. The men had orders neither to disclose their number nor to say what they were doing. Prior to the detachments' departure from Zambia, ZAPU had made a radio broadcast to the Zimbabwean people saying that if anyone approached their village for help it should be given, ‘These are our sons, fighting for a free Zimbabwe'. 64
When they got to the post they found an old man, who said they were expecting the guerrillas and that he had been told to give them food. The men were away from their cattle post as it was Sunday, and would only return the following day with food. Instead the old man gave them four gallons of sour milk and a bit of porridge. 65 Just as the guerrillas completed their drink they heard gunfire. They then heard shouting: ‘Surrender! Commandos! Surrender! Surrender! Apanzan shaida' – in Shona this means that you can't do nothing'. 66 The guerrillas returned fire and the Rhodesian security forces ran away leaving behind their kitbags with clothing and food.
Leonard Nkosi describes the same event. His group met the Rhodesian security forces as they left the Wankie Game Reserve, at the end of August. It was 22 August to be exact. We were marching early in the morning – very early. We heard a cockcrow and then we realised that there must be somebody living nearby. At that stage we were very weak and tired, and hungry. 67
Early that afternoon they noticed enemy vehicles in the distance and prepared for battle. The RAR patrol ran into the South African bound group, while it followed a specially laid false trail. 68 The cadres held back and did not fire. They wished to avoid unnecessary contact and to safeguard precious ammunition. What happened next is best described in Hani's words:
…the enemy got impatient. They stood up and began to ask: ‘Where are the terrorists?' This was when there was a fusillade of furious fire from us…They simply ran for their dear lives leaving behind food, ammunition and communication equipment…This was the first time that we had what I can call a civilised meal – cheese, biltong, meat and other usual rations carried by the regular army…For us that day was a day of celebrations because with our own eyes we had seen the enemy run…A feeling of faith in one another and recognition of the courage of the unit developed…There was no going back. 69
The RAR patrol led by Patrol Officer Hopkins describes the battle I this way:
We did not see them until they opened fire. The whole action was confined to about 300 yards but because of the difficult country, and our limited force, we could not surround them. There was firing all afternoon and it kept movement to a minimum. It was a tricky situation. 70
Hani estimates that MK lost three members namely Charles Seshoba, Sparks Moloi and Baloi and one was wounded. 71 ‘We must have killed between 12 and 15, including a lieutenant, a sergeant major, a warrant officer and a number of other soldiers'. 72 Morodi also says, ‘We have killed about fifteen of them, they killed three of us from the first section. So they run away, and we captured this food'. 73
Nkosi claims four people died in his group during this encounter. In the Rhodesian group he saw one European dead and one non-European dead. 74 Lieutenant Smith and an African sergeant major died in this battle. 75
As the Rhodesian soldiers retreated, the MK soldiers captured their supplies of arms, radios, food, and clothing including the camouflage uniform of the Rhodesians.
Hani says this about that first important battle:
It was a memorable victory and to every soldier victory is very important… [that] this was a virgin victory for us since we had never fought with modern weapons against the enemy. For us that day was a day of celebrations because with our own eyes we had seen the enemy run. We had seen the enemy frozen with fear…We had also seen and observed each other reacting to the enemy's attacks. A feeling of faith in one another and recognition of the courage of the unit developed. 76
Although the guerrillas were tired and weak from not having eaten, they were able to cause the Rhodesians to flee leaving behind their food and firearms. Immediately after the battle the guerrillas rushed to the belongings of the fleeing Rhodesian soldiers.
The first thing we hurried to, because we were very hungry – we went to the bags, which contained the food and we also, collected their firearms. 77
The food and clothing of the fleeing Rhodesian security forces came in handy, as the guerrillas were very hungry. Morodi recalls this anecdote:
…I saw something like toothpaste. I open it. It was condensed milk, I drink, then Lennox he says to me, 'No no no. You know it's the law of the guerrilla anything that you pick up you must report to the commander – otherwise they are going to shoot you. But I drink. Then he took another one and he also drinks. I said, ‘Now they are going to shoot both of us! [Laughs] Then we get together, we report whatever we have captured there. 78
Some of the guerrillas put on the Rhodesian uniforms, but took off the badges. Helicopters and spotter planes were flying low all the time. The guerrillas also captured a radio and could listen to the helicopter signals.
Hopkins' patrol followed this group, which seemed to be heading for the Botswana border. 79 On 23 August, a day after the first battle with the South African-bound group a second platoon under the command of Lieutenant William Rodney Winnall, was sent in to pursue the guerrillas in conjunction with Hopkin's patrol. However, the Rhodesians first planned and carried out a furious bombardment against the group. Lieutenant Winnall says of the aerial strike:
At approximately 4 o'clock I was given the order to halt my advance as [an] air strike was going in. The strike went, in fact, approximately five to six miles ahead of where we were actually based. That was the only strike that went in. 80
The South African buccaneer jets and helicopters missed the guerrillas by about two kilometres. This bombing by the airforce had little effect on the guerrillas. 81 So the Rhodesian Royal Air Force had tried to bombard Hani's group but missed them. The security forces pursuing the guerrillas consisting of two platoons and fifty men continued following the trail of the nationalists.
The second battle took place that same day of the aerial bombardment against the guerrillas at about 4:30 p.m. The scene of the second skirmish was approximately five miles east of the first battle the previous day. 82
The MK guerrillas surmised that the Rhodesian security forces were planning a mop-up operation for the day 23 August. Nkosi says the guerillas decided to outwit the pursuing Rhodesians by doubling back and lying in wait for their enemy and launched a surprise attack. Nkosi explains the tactics of the ANC-ZAPU group and what happened next:
On that day we heard that there were some people nearby us. Our commander then moved out to find out who these persons were. He was then wearing one of the Rhodesian security uniforms – one of those we had picked up…he came back running to us and told us that the Rhodesian forces have come down near us, and he gave us an order to move forward in a line towards them. We were sitting, waiting in that position. Our light machine guns were on the flanks and in the centre was another light machine gun, and in between those were the sub machine guns and the carbine. 83
Hani explains that he was accompanied by James April, 84 Douglas Wana, Jack Simelane, Victor Dlamini and others and recalls the event in this way.
We crawled towards the enemy's position and first attacked their tents with grenades and then followed with our AKs and LMGs. The enemy fought back furiously and after fifteen minutes we called for reinforcements from the rear, and within ten minutes we overran the enemy's position…The enemy fled leaving behind supplies, weapons, grenades, uniforms and communication radios. 85
Lieutenant Winnall commander of the RAR platoon stationed near Bulawayo remembers this same event. His platoon consisted of between 22 and 24 men, two police dog handlers patrol officers Thomas and Horn and two trackers [the latter presumably civilians] assisted the platoon.
Winnall explained that at 5p.m they were forming a base camp when he heard sporadic firing to his right. A sergeant major came to report to him that he had seen two guerrillas. Immediately after that the guerrillas opened heavy fire on the camp.
According to Lieutenant Winnall, the platoon commander, ‘…there was chaos…
I thought we were not in a good position to defend ourselves. Hand-grenades were being thrown into the camp. I thought we had lost the initiative and I ordered withdrawal.' 86
Mr Rees: (the prosecutor) And what type of attacking formation did the attackers appear to adopt?
Winnall : After a while I got the impression that they were beginning to encircle us, and outflank us. At the same time with this automatic fire they were also throwing grenades into the camp, one of which exploded approximately ten paces away from me and I got a bit of shrapnel in my shoulder and my hip, and a little bit in my face.
Mr Rees : What appeared to be the morale of the attacking force? --- The morale appeared to be very high, and they were certainly very aggressive. A short way away there was someone shouting “Attack, attack, attack” and it was in the initial stages, in fact, of this attack that patrol officer Thomas was killed. In trying to get his dog under control he was shot.
What casualty was suffered by your side? --- Thomas was killed. I was not aware that anybody had been, but in fact the lance corporal in my platoon was also killed – shot in the face – and there were a number of people injured; it amounted to approximately seven. 87
Winnall was so badly injured that he was airlifted to a hospital. James April referred to him as ‘the man with a thousand wounds', convinced that Winnall exaggerated his wounds in order to receive the sympathy of the court and I quote from the trial record:
Mr Rees: (the prosecutor) What injuries did you suffer? Could you tell the court? --- [Winnall] Shrapnel wounds, bullet wounds in the calf, the left calf; a bullet wound through the left upper arm; a bullet wound across the top left thumb, and one across the top of my head.
KENNEDY, J : (judge) You were a very lucky man to have escaped death, I must say? --- [Winnall] I think so, Sir. 88
Winnall went on to say, ‘I was evacuated to hospital and did not return to the area'. 89 Two RAR members were killed and eight wounded. Another member was killed as a result of an ‘accident'. Two guerrillas were killed. With both incidents the guerrillas operated from well-built hideouts and captured some of the RAR guns and most importantly two wireless sets, which were used to monitor the movements of the security forces. 90
The guerrillas decide to return the four-gallon tin in which they carried the sour milk, so as not to incriminate the old man. The latter told them not to go near the river as the Rhodesian security forces were planning an ambush. The guerrillas were very thirsty but dared not go near the river. Instead the old man showed them an alternate route. Morodi carried one of the wounded men quite a long distance. 91

The guerrillas shoot at four black Rhodesian soldiers

What followed was one of the curious happenings during the Wankie campaign and is best told in the exact words of Morodi:
Just as we walk – it was a full moon – we saw four black soldiers coming. And when they saw us they say, ‘No! Don't kill us because we are also black.' We opened fire! We didn't waste time. We were afraid if we capture them then they are going to see our number and they are going to see how we are armed, and they may escape and give a proper report that side…Within two, three minutes, we hear firing at the river. 92
The guerrillas meeting of, and shooting at the four black soldiers set off another chain of events. In the meanwhile the Rhodesian security forces had set a trap for the fleeing guerrillas at the river. They put two groups of soldiers on either side. It was planned that once the guerrillas got to the river the one group of Rhodesian soldiers would open fire, the guerrillas would retreat and the other group of Rhodesian soldiers would advance and shoot the guerrillas from the rear. When the Rhodesian soldiers heard shots, which was the sound of the guerrillas shooting at the four black Rhodesian soldiers they thought the trap had worked. So the rear guard advanced. And the two Rhodesian groups started shooting at each other. Morodi says the shooting went on for about fifteen minutes. The guerrillas continued on their way. The next morning they listened to the radio. A report was given to Salisbury saying that an ambush had been laid and that the guerrillas had killed the commander and fifteen others. This was not true they had shot at themselves.
The next morning enemy reconnaissance was sent to the area. The guerrillas decided to evade the helicopters by resting in nearby tall trees. The guerrillas ate and cleaned their guns. In the meanwhile they sent two scouts on reconnaissance. One scout spotted the Rhodesian Security Forces and crawled towards them. He heard them discussing the battle. The Rhodesians said: ‘If we can meet those people and they fight like they did yesterday…I'll run, you see'. 93
The Rhodesian soldiers spotted one of the MK guerrillas and a pitched battle followed lasting an hour and a half. The guerrillas lost two men. According to Morodi, they killed a number of Rhodesians as they were close to them. The dead apparently included a brigadier from South Africa, an expert in anti-guerrilla warfare. The brigadier had been sent straight from South Africa to Salisbury and then to the front. He died within a short while of arriving in Rhodesia. Morodi thought the guerrillas lucky as they were able to kill the commander and the radio people – seven all in all, whilst the guerrillas lost only two men.
The group walked along a donga, crossed at a certain point and were given shelter for a few days at Sithole's shop at Kabayu. Southeast of the shop the group later concealed firearms and equipment. 94 Hartley explained at April's trial what happened to this group which included Nkosi:
The point of engagement (point A), a clearing in the bush. After which the guerrillas worked for about 11/2 miles along a donga, marked B. At a spot in the Donga Marked C, some of the guerrillas hid firearms and equipment which they had seized from Security Force members.
A mile later they crossed the donga at point D. From point A to E is approximately 17 miles at point E they reached Sithole's shop at Gulakibile, where the group was given shelter for a few days. At point F, south east of Sithole's shop the guerrillas buried their firearms and equipment. At point G, a spot west of Sithole's store the guerrillas buried there automatic pistols and hand grenades. 95
Nkosi and two others ‘deserted', as they wanted to move back to South Africa. It is not clear whether Nkosi understood what ‘desert' means in military terms and whether he and two others wished to make their way back to South Africa which was there destination.
After this battle the guerrilla supplies were once again running low. Lack of water forced the group to once again send out men in search of a supply. This smaller group of five men included James April and the ANC commander.
A week later, a captured guerrilla led security forces to a base where a surprise attack killed four guerrillas. The RRAF strafed the base with great success. 96
A third ANC-ZAPU group making its way south, had a major clash at Tjolotjo township, which is about sixty miles from Bulawayo. It seems that fierce fighting took place on 31 August, and the South African forces were involved in the clashes. 97
The group looking for water were unable to find any, and neither could they find their way back to the detachment that had been forced to move. This group of five decided to cross the border into Botswana where they buried their weapons. However, once inside Botswana the guerrillas saw the Botswana government paramilitary troops in the distance. The MK guerrillas after much discussion decided not to resist, nor to militarily engage the Botswana troops. They particularly noted that Botswana had recently gained its independence and was a member of the OAU. The MK guerrillas reasoned that the Botswana government was not the enemy of the people of South Africa. Hani explains that the Botswana paramilitary police initially pretended to be friendly but later manacled, arrested and ill-treated the guerrillas. The latter discovered that the Botswana and South African authorities were working hand in hand. 98
The group denied having any arms. However, the police retraced their footsteps and found the buried cache. They were arrested and given food, after which they were transferred to Francistown. They were charged with bringing weapons of war into Botswana and with entering the country without a permit.
Further fighting was reported a few days later some 25 miles to the west of Bulawayo. Maxey says that a subsequent trial, which took place in South Africa in 1969, gives much more detail of the both engagements. 99
On 4 September 1967, another clash occurred and three guerrillas were killed, one security force member was killed and one injured. It is believed that nine ANC guerrillas involved in the fighting mentioned were arrested in Botswana. One died in Botswana of wounds received in Rhodesia.
Enemy reinforcements were increasing in the area and the South African bound group now consisting of 34 men decided to retreat west, into Botswana. The guerrillas' purpose in retreating into Botswana was to refresh themselves, heal the injured, acquire food supplies and then proceed to South Africa. There was no intention of battling with the Botswana authorities. The Botswana police later arrested them and demanded that they hand over their weapons.
The guerrillas were charged and sentenced for ‘bringing weapons of war into Botswana' and for ‘illegal entry'. The sentences received differed. Some of the guerrillas received two years, some three years and some others even six years. After appeals the sentences were reduced. 100

The OAU intervenes

After serving approximately two years in the Botswana prison , the OAU intervened and the sentences were commuted. The guerrillas were released in December 1968 and they were flown to Lusaka, Zambia. In Lusaka a ‘journalist', who later turned out to be a senior CIA member interviewed Morodi about the Wankie campaign. Morodi told him it was not ANC-ZAPU policy to kill civilians. In fact during the course of their march the guerrillas had met a White man and a White woman in the bush, who should not have seen them. They did not harm them, as they were civilians. 101

B.C. Richmond, From Shantytown to forest, the story of Norman Duka (London, LSM Information Centre, 1974) p.71
He was also known as Jackson Moloto
Interview with James April (Cape town, September 1990). Varying figures have been given for the number of men in the joint ANC-ZAPU force. For example, D. Martin and P. Johnson, The struggle for Zimbabwe: The Chimurenga War (Johannesburg, Ravan Press, 1981) p.10 gives 70 as the number and M. Horrell, Survey of Race Relations (Johannesburg, SAIRR, 1967) p. 66 gives the number as 80 men. The latter is more accurate.
B.C. Richmond, From Shantytown to forest, the story of Norman Duka (London, LSM Information Centre, 1974) p.71
Interview with James April (Cape Town, September 1990)
T. Nkobi, “Crossing the Zambezi”, Dawn , (Lusaka, ANC, Souvenir issue, 1986)
He was also known as George Driver.
He was also known as Paul Petersen.
N. Van Driel, The journey to Wankie: The story of a ‘Coloured' MK soldier, Unpublished History Honours essay, UWC, Bellville, 1991
Even under interrogation some of the guerrillas did not disclose the correct date of the crossing. See Sitrep s.n.15.
See C. Hani, “The Wankie Campaign”, @ www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mk/wankie/html, p.1
Wilson Zola was in this group.
See Rhodesia Debriefs BGG 210/3/11/2 Vol.1. p.7 Appendix 2
B.C. Richmond, From Shantytown to forest, the story of Norman Duka (London, LSM Information Centre, 1974) p.71
See page 80 more details.
B.C. Richmond, From Shantytown to forest, the story of Norman Duka (London, LSM Information Centre, 1974) p.71
See C. Hani, “The Wankie Campaign”, @ www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mk/wankie/html, p.1
H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) p.163
H Barrell, MK: the ANC's armed struggle (London, Penguin books, 1990) p.21
H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) p.163 p. 164
H Barrell, MK: the ANC's armed struggle (London, Penguin books, 1990) p.20
According to the evidence given by Leonard Nkosi at the trial of James April, the ANC/ZAPU group split into three and not two. There is no evidence to support his claim. The detachment split into two. See The State vs James Edward April , Supreme Court of South Africa, Natal Provincial Division Case No. 84/71 10 –15 May 1971 p.75
Also known as Charlie Mjojo
See C. Hani, “The Wankie Campaign”, @ www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mk/wankie/html, p.1 Basil February was actually not part of this group. He joined the Lupane-bound group. Interview James April (Cape Town, September 1990)
Motsepe later died in battle. See Comrade Rodgers, “Heroes of our revolution', in Dawn , (Lusaka, ANC, Souvenir issue, 1986) p.20
H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) p.164
K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p.30 He lists the specific number of aircraft, which was held by the Rhodesian Airforce.
J.K. Celliers, Counter-insurgency in Rhodesia , (London, Biddles Ltd, 1985) p.7
Sitrep s.n. 6
R. Shay, & C. Vermaak, The silent war (Rhodesia, Galaxie Press, 1971) p.50 According to the calendar of 1967, 10 August was a Thursday.
K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p. 64
Ibid. The guerrilla who died at Figtree was Basil February. Maxey says the guerrilla was killed near Bulawayo.
See p.35
See SITREP s.n. 40
Comrade Rodgers, “The Battle of Nyatuwe”, Dawn , Souvenir issue (Lusaka, ANC, 1986) p.47. The Rhodesians called the place Inyatue. See Rhodesia Debriefs BGG210/3/11/2 Vol.1
Ibid. p.47
Ibid. p.48
Ibid. See K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p.65
The following was revealed when Lieutenant Pretorius, of the SA Army interviewed Lieutenant Scholtz of the South African Security Police. See Taakmag 4 GPI File INT/c/21/1 SWA (Feitlike Inligting) pp.14-16
These names are not spelt correctly but are reflected as such in the archival document listed immediately below.
From Taakmag 4 GPI File INT/c/21/1, SWA (Feitlike Inligting)
Comrade Rodgers, “The Battle of Nyatuwe”, Dawn , Souvenir issue (Lusaka, ANC, 1986) p.48. He estimates the time of the next engagement to be seven or ten days after the Battle of Nyatuwe. Instead it was five days. During the march the guerrillas tended to lose track of time and sometimes became confused with the days of the week.
Sitrep s.n.12
Comrade Rodgers, “The Battle of Nyatuwe”, Dawn , Souvenir issue (Lusaka, ANC, 1986) p.48
Sitrep s.n.12
From Sechaba, October 1967 @ www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/or/or67-6html
Interview with James April (Cape Town, September 1990)
H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) p.163
B. C. Richmond, From Shantytown to forest, the story of Norman Duka (London, LSM Information Centre, 1974) p.71
H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) p.164
Ibid. pp.164-165
B.C. Richmond, From Shantytown to forest, the story of Norman Duka (London, LSM Information Centre, 1974) p.78
H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) pp.164-165. During the march the guerrillas tended to lose track of time and sometimes became confused with the days of the week. Although Morodi says these events occurred on a Sunday, it was a Tuesday.
The State vs James Edward April, Supreme Court of South Africa, Natal Provincial Division Case No. 84/71 10 –15 May 1971, p.76
K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p. 65
See C. Hani, “The Wankie Campaign”, @ www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mk/wankie/html, pp.2-3
K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p.65
Ibid. See list of ANC members who died in exile at http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/deathlst.html
H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) p.165
The State vs James Edward April , Supreme Court of South Africa, Natal Provincial Division Case No. 84/71 10 –15 May 1971 , p. 76
Ibid. p.100
C. Hani, “The Wankie Campaign”, @ www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mk/wankie/html, p.3
The State vs James Edward April , Supreme Court of South Africa, Natal Provincial Division Case No. 84/71 10 –15 May 1971 , p. 76
H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) p.165
K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p.65
The State vs James Edward April, Supreme Court of South Africa, Natal Provincial Division Case No. 84/71 10 –15 May 1971, p.94
K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p. 66
The State vs James Edward April, Supreme Court of South Africa, Natal Provincial Division Case No. 84/71 10 –15 May 1971 , p77. Detective Section Officer N.S.F. Hartley of the BSAP gave details of location of two battles. pp. 94-101
The State vs James Edward April, Supreme Court of South Africa, Natal Provincial Division Case No. 84/71 10 –15 May 1971 , p. 78. See Appendix 7
Ibid. Nkosi said the accused James April was also dressed in the Rhodesian camouflage uniform during the battle.
C. Hani, “The Wankie Campaign”, @ www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mk/wankie/html , p.3
The State vs James Edward April , Supreme Court of South Africa, Natal Provincial Division Case No. 84/71 10 –15 May 1971 , p.66
Ibid. p.92
Ibid. p.93
Ibid. p.78 According to Nkosi, two guerrillas were killed in this skirmish and he saw two [dead] Non-Europeans on the side of the enemy.
H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) p.165
Ibid. p .166
The State vs James Edward April, Supreme Court of South Africa, Natal Provincial Division Case No. 84/71 10 –15 May 1971, p.97
See Appendices 8 & 9
K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p.66
Sitrep s.n. 33
C. Hani, “The Wankie Campaign”, @ www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mk/wankie/html, p.4
Ibid. Maxey is referring to the trial of Daluxola Luthuli and 10 other accused, quoted Prisoners of Apartheid: a biographical list of political prisoners and banned persons in South Africa (London, IDAF with UN Centre against Apartheid, 1978) p.33
H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) p. 167