About Me

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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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Thursday, July 28, 2011



By Kudakwashe KANHUTU

The plan had been hatched by a very far sighted person. As the struggle for liberation intensified there was an urgent need for able bodied men to join the fight. This led to acceptance of hardened criminals and those who habitually traversed the borders of sanity, into the fighting ranks of ZANLA. The exigencies of recruiting for a war already underway did not allow the set up of a Criminal Records Bureau, to painstakingly vet all cadres joining the struggle. However, one commander in the Dare reChimurenga (the War Council for ZANLA), had anticipated this problem with extra-ordinary foresight and countered it with equal cunning.

For the uninitiated I am taking you back to the colonial period in the Southern African country formerly called Rhodesia, specifically between 1972 and 1980. This is the time when the black nationalists’ demand for a release from the yoke of white minority oppression reached its apex. The main form of the demand was an armed struggle called Chimurenga II, which saw black people leave their country for training in neighbouring Mozambique and Zambia then return to talk to the white oppressor in terms which were unequivocal. The two main fighting groups were ZANLA, which was dominated by the Shona tribe, and ZIPRA which was smaller owing to it being composed of the minority Ndebele tribe. We were fighting a war of liberating the whole black population from the indignity of being disenfranchised in our own land by foreigners. The leader of the white minority was that rabid racist, Ian Smith.

I insist that the greatest compliment I ever received as a combatant in this war came from our sworn enemy, Ian Smith, in briefing his regular JOC meetings, he is said to have uttered that “Mabhunu’s fighting force shortens our projection for a thousand year rule”. I had adopted the nom de guerre Mabhunu Muchaendepi and the grudging respect of my enemy was not so much a source of pride, but confirmation that our methods were effective.

I must say I was initially averse to what I perceived as a waste of scarce resources when I was informed I would be part of a unit, charged with terminating comrades on the battlefield who were compromising the war by being cruel to the black population we were fighting to free. It was a terrible anti climax, hearing that my engagement with the white enemy would only be coincidental. I found it hard to believe I had shared caves with pythons, walked barefoot across game parks in the middle of the night to reach Mozambique, tottering, on legs swollen to twice their size, to fight, not the enemy; but my own fellow combatants.

It felt like a betrayal of the spirit of Liberation, a betrayal of the nation of Zimbabwe, but any qualms I had were laid to complete rest once we began our training. Basic training was administered to all who arrived at Chimoio, this involved political education, weapons and physical training. Our commanders then assigned us to different fields we would man, based on their assessment and judgement of our abilities, an essential division of labour for any effective fighting force.

It was in training I came into contact for the first time with the criminals who were to be my comrades in liberating Zimbabwe. I remember the vacant look in the eyes of some of these cadres, the inordinate eagerness to get weapons and return to the theatre of war. If I were to say today that I knew instinctively that these people were sadistic, any decent magistrate would throw me in jail owing to the paradigm shift since, but in a time of war, this instinct was indispensable and invaluable an attribute.

Vindication for that instinct would come of course from a reading of the brutal massacre of black civilians between Chipinge and Wedza which took place in such a short time after our pass out from Chimoio. It evoked despondency to watch on the news while we were at advanced training in Libya, the hacked off legs, burnt corpses, pregnant women stabbed by bayonets lying lifeless in row after row, murdered by their supposed liberators.

Ian Smith’s government of course to win the battle of hearts and minds allowed reporters from all over the world to have a field day when such massacres occurred. Extreme double standards because when the Rhodesian Army, frustrated by how cunning the genuine liberators were, massacred civilians in the hundreds, reporters would be banned from these areas. I would also venture that the reason Ian Smith began to doubt his government’s resolution for a thousand year white domination of the majority blacks was – has to be – the existence of a unit in ZANLA charged with protecting civilians from wayward liberators. Was this not a clear example of the advanced political acumen he was telling the world blacks inherently lack? Furthermore the atrocities visited on civilians by Smith’s army went unpunished even when it was so obvious and undeniable.

To be able to shed light on why my autopsy is being written in this sort of ink, let me posit that my death is imminent as I have chosen to let out the most closely guarded secret of Chimurenga II. The secret is that the black liberation fighters lost the war; we lost the war the day when Comrade Josiah Magama Tongogara died. The Kaguvi Sector, my unit in the armed struggle and a brain child of Comrade Tongogara, evolved to become an army within an army, fighting a war within a war. The Sector developed its own ethos which bordered on a preference to actually lose the war than gain leverage by terrorising civilians. Unfortunately this sentiment was not shared across the board, even in Dare reChimurenga Comrade Tongogara was an isolated figure as the other members were proponents of the scorched earth policy. It is a fact that some people in high positions of government today actually instructed the other guerrillas to be ruthless against the black population, summary executions were endorsed, cruel and unusual punishments shamelessly promoted, an all is fair in war doctrine.

Of the Kaguvi Sector numbering 85 at the end of the armed struggle, I am the only one left. 30 of my comrades were detained in Chimoio during the Lancaster House talks and were massacred on the same day that Comrade Tongogara died in a bizarre accident. 20 more comrades did not make it alive from Dzapasi Assembly Point. Over the years the other 34 remaining combatants of the Kaguvi Sector have met ignominious ends over the course of their lives in independent Zimbabwe, in very suspicious circumstances, so it is left to me to honour the memory of the foremost liberation unit by letting the truth be known instead of the myth that has been perpetuated that we won the war of liberation.

Do not waste your pity on me, better people have already died; Comrades Mandebvu, Elliot Hondo, Comrade Mabhunu Muchapera, Hokoyo, Zvaipa, Tafataona, Dragon, Tichafa… 


 author/source:Zimbabwe Standard
published:Sun 30-Sep-2001
posted on this site:Mon 1-Oct-2001

Article Type : News

Josiah Tongogara, Rugare Gumbo, Henry Hamadziripi, Kumbirai Kangai, Mukudzei Mudzi named in 1975 report into Chitepo's murder

Staff Writer

Top Zanu commanders from the Dare Rechimurenga and the Zanla High Command killed former Zanu chairman, Herbert Chitepo, in Zambia in 1975, a special report by a Zambian commission into the late leader's mysterious death reveals. This is the first time that the report has been made public since the lawyer-cum-politician's assasination 26 years ago. Chitepo died when a car bomb planted under the driver's seat in his VW Beetle detonated as he was trying to reverse the car from the garage at his Zambian house. The Standard this week reveals for the first time the contents of the report. The report puts paid to claims from within Mr Mugabe's party that Chitepo had been killed by agents of the Ian Smith regime. The late chairman's widow, Victoria Chitepo, is on record as saying it was common knowledge that the leader was killed by fellow party members.

The Report of the Special International Commission on the Assassination of Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo, which was commissioned by former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda, in Lusaka, 1976, cites the late Zanla commander, Josiah Tongogara; current deputy minister of home affairs, Rugare Gumbo, who was secretary for information and publicity; Henry Hamadziripi, secretary for finance; Kumbirai Kangai, secretary for public and social welfare; and Mukudzei Mudzi, secretary for administration as the people responsible for assassinating the Dare chairman, Chitepo.

The report said the late chairman was a victim of a tribal power struggle within the party. Said the report, in the possession of The Standard: "The members of Dare and the High Command decided on March 1975 to kill Chitepo for reasons already stated. On that day, Dauramanzi and Mpunzarima were sent to collect a bomb from Rex Nhongo. They returned on Monday 17 March when Chimurenga handed the bomb to Sadat Kufamazuba for safe keeping until midnight when Chimurenga, Rudo, Short and Sadat planted the bomb on the driver's seat of Chitepo's car. The four men were acting under the directions of Tongogara. On the same night, Tongogara sent Robson Manyika to Chitepo's house to go and check whether Chimurenga, Rudo and Short had carried out the mission. Manyika said he did all this and reported back to Tongogara. This account is consistent with the corroborative evidence of the members of Dare and the High Command before the Commission and with their demeanour when they appeared before us."

The report continues: "The members of Dare and the High Command could all therefore be indicated as principals to the murder of Chitepo because jointly and severally they actively desired to bring this about and did in fact bring it about. Although only one individual may have completed the final act to consummate the crime and though some may not have been present as in the case of Hamadziripi and Chigowe, who claim to have been in Malawi at the material time, they could all be charged for Chitepo's murder."

The report says members of the High Command who gave evidence admitted that on hearing rumours some of them were to be arrested, scattered and ran away from Zambia instead of being eager to assist Zambian Police. "So the whole evidence both circumstantial, as well as direct with regard to the Chitepo assassination, points inevitably and clearly to his colleagues in the Dare and the High Command, especially Tongogara, Chigowe, Mudzi, Gumbo, Kangai and Hamadziripi," says the report.

The commission was chaired by Reuben Chitandika Kamanga and Mathias Mainza Chona, both Zambians, representatives of African countries from Botswana, Congo, Ivory Coast, Libya, Malagasy, Morocco, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania and Zaire. Its terms of reference was to inquire into the events and circumstances leading to death of Chitepo on 18 March 1975. It was to investigate and establish "whether any racists or imperialists agents, or any racists or counter-revolutionaries or saboteurs were directly responsible for the said death." It was to investigate and establish the identity and the motive of the person or persons responsible for the said death. The commission was tasked to: "Make recommendations with regard to the measures or any additional measures that ought to be taken for the security of persons engaged in any political activities aimed at the attainment of freedom and independence of the people of Zimbabwe and any other country in Africa still under colonial or minority rule."

Said Kaunda on Zambian national radio on 31 March 1975: "We are shocked. We are still grieved and angered. We remain bitter against the murderous act, bitter against the murderers - the enemies of Zambia and Africa. Many Zambians are, to say the least, very dismayed and justifiably irritated by statements made by some Zimbabwe nationals, some, even nationalist leaders, have shown no concern whatsoever for the assassination of Mr Chitepo. To them, Mr Chitepo has been assassinated and that must be the end. Instead of calling upon the party and government to track down the killers of this gallant fighter, they are either completely silent, while others virtually demand that we stop the investigation altogether and thereby shelter the assassins."

Twenty-fours years later, Kaunda was still bitter as he told The Standard in 1999 when he came to visit the grave of the late vice president, Joshua Nkomo: "Chitepo was a committed leader. And some day we will talk about how he died. It is one blot in the history, a sad reflection of the whole liberation of this region. Some of the Zanla leadership left Zambia soon after the burial. I didn't expect them to leave immediately...this was their death. It was our death too, and it required all of us to work together on it," said Kaunda.

At the Review Conference of September 1973, the following were elected to the Dare: Herbert Chitepo - chairman (Manyika); Mukudzei Mudzi - administrative secretary (Karanga); Noel Mukono - secretary for external affairs (Manyika); Kumbirai Kangai - secretary for labour, social services and welfare (Karanga); Rugare Gumbo - secretary for information and publicity (Karanga); John Mataure -political commissar (Manyika); Henry Hamadziripi - secretary for finance (Karanga); Josiah Tongogara - chief of defence (Karanga). Apart from being an astute politician, Chitepo made history by becoming the first black advocate in southern Africa.

EXCLUSIVE - The Standard will, from next week, serialise the Report of the Special International Commission on the Assassination of Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo which was commissioned by former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda. The report is the most authoritative account into events surrounding the cold-blooded murder of the former nationalist leader. Standard editor, Mark Chavunduka, said yesterday that not a single sentence of the entire report will be edited out.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Well there it is the first copy of Choppertech... get your orders in as it is a limited print
Wonder how many stones the book will upturn?

Saturday, March 12, 2011


The Wankie and Sipolilo campaigns of 1967-8 had a significant impact internationally and within the country, demonstrating to the people of South Africa that the ANC's armed struggle was very much alive, writes Sandile Sijake, an ex-cadre of Umkhonto Wesizwe.

When the ANC and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) agreed on close cooperation in relation to guerrilla operations, it was understood that the activity was taking the existing solidarity a step further. The relationship between the peoples of South Africa and those of Zimbabwe had from then onwards to be tempered in the fires of the common experiences in the struggle for social, economic, political and cultural emancipation.

In the ANC there had been a long period of unplanned attempts at infiltration of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) members back to South Africa. These attempts were mainly focused on finding a route through Botswana. To facilitate the crossing we established a bone milling facility in one of the farms outside Livingstone. The facility worked very well for some time.
However the process of infiltration involved very small groups of one or two at a time. The rate of arrests and interception by the Botswana Paramilitary Police led some of us to suspect that there was a serious leak of information. The second concern was that whatever weapons the cadres carried along ended up in Botswana and there was no way that these could be recovered.
A number of frank discussions were held, mainly with then ANC President OR Tambo. In his absence these meetings would be chaired by Moses Kotane. Moses Mabhida and JB Marks were charged with finding routes other than Botswana. They set up a number of networks that became promising, and were operational.
There was an apparent tendency that some individual leaders placed more emphasise on commercial interests than the struggle for social, economic and political emancipation. These interests manifested themselves in the fact that these leaders set up factories and operated commercial farms mainly in Zambia. Bitter arguments also related to the fact that cadres sent to South Africa were given a mere five pounds to see them through operations, food, transportation and accommodation, to give but a few requirements of any political-military operation.
Members of MK appealed to the leadership that they be part of the planning of routes home. The joint operations with ZAPU's armed wing, the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), evolved out of this process. We agreed to have a combined venture with the specific understanding that we were to be on our way to South Africa. This took place after MK tried to have similar arrangements with FRELIMO in 1966. This could have been feasible given that at that stage FRELIMO was still operating up to Tete Province north of the Zambezi River.

The operations
Once the political strategic levels accepted the rationale of undertaking a form of combined operations, a number of corresponding structures had to be put in place to ensure implementation of the agreement.

Sijake has a high regard of Dabengwa as a great soldier. A Kenyan newspaper once described Dabengwa as the most trained soldier in the entire African continent.
A joint intelligence-cum-reconnaissance structure was established with Eric Manzi (MK) and Dumiso Dabengwa (ZIPRA) as respective leaders. There was also set up a Joint Headquarters (JHQ) consisting of the Overall Commanders, Commissars, Chiefs of Staff, Chiefs of Operations, Chiefs of Logistics and Supplies and a limited involvement of medical officers.
Each of these components of the JHQ had its particular teething problems, some of which it was possible to address, others were to be placed in abeyance, while some had to be wished away. In reconnaissance these challenges led to a form of ad hoc and autonomous activity. All the moves and steps taken were to be balanced to ensure all parties were happy with the process. When the structure of the detachment was assembled each level of authority had to be given serious consideration. It was finally agreed that John Dube of ZIPRA be the detachment commander and Chris Hani the detachment commissar.

In August 1967 a combined force of MK and ZIPRA freedom fighters were seen off across the Zambezi River by Tambo. The force numbered about 96 men with no maps, and limited dependence on ZIPRA cadres who, although Zimbabweans, had no better clue about that part of their country. The detachment had to rely on compasses for a general direction of march.

When this detachment was to cross into then Rhodesia there were two clear directives. The ZIPRA comrades were to establish themselves in their country as a guerrilla force. The ANC cadres were to head to South Africa and without any particular intention that they should engage the enemy inside Rhodesia except when necessary and as means of self-defence.
Inside Rhodesia the detachment was going to split into two main groups and a third part was going to be a group of two cadres using a train. One company was to head east towards the Matopo Hills, Paul Petersen and two other comrades were to go to the nearest railway station and take a train towards the midlands, and the main body was to move on the western part heading south.
The MK contingent intended to use Rhodesia as a passage home and not to conduct any operations in that country. No one among us knew that the first clashes with the enemy would take place in the vicinity of Wankie.
The members of this first detachment had to learn on their feet as they could not avoid blunders associated with undertaking such an operation without sufficient means and equipment. The situation was tense. On crossing the Zambezi river the detachment set up its own reconnaissance section. Some of the functions of reconnaissance were to move forward and backwards finding the routes to follow, water points, food, and information on the activities of the enemy.
The going was never smooth. On certain occasions arguments would be sparked by the issue of who must lead the detachment to the point identified by reconnaissance. Most times the ZIPRA cadres in reconnaissance would insist that they wanted to lead. Every time one of them had been given the opportunity to lead, the detachment would end up going astray and never linking up with that small contingent of reconnaissance left ahead to secure a new temporary base.
On the second day inside Rhodesia, the detachment ran out of food, bullets were in short supply and most, if not all, the MK members had about five pounds and not much water. There was no information about the quantities of rations each was going to get until they were on the banks of the Zambezi River and ready to cross.
The detachment reached the first village on the second day. The small community there gave valuable information to the guerrillas. They indicated that the previous day some soldiers came to their village and said they were looking for guerrillas. They could not remember the number of trucks or soldiers. The leader in that community was a ZAPU supporter and told the detachment that the soldiers did patrols during the day and at night; and their camp was on the other side of the next village. This man was willing to go to a shop owner at the next village and arrange for the purchase of food. The community gave some food to the reconnaissance group for the rest of the detachment.
The reconnaissance group discovered that the shop owner at the second village was also a ZAPU supporter. He gave valuable information about the enemy activities. He told them that all the passable routes converged near the soldiers' camp. After leaving his place the reconnaissance group established that there was a small enemy contingent at that camp. They were seated next to a fire and now and then one of them would go and look along the road intersection and return to the fire. The detachment decided to walk past the camp as they believed they would easily overwhelm the enemy. On seeing the detachment the soldiers ran away, abandoning the camp.
The detachment marched the whole night before deciding to have a long rest. After some rest we noticed that one member from Charlie Company was missing. We searched for him and after about two hours the search was called off and the detachment moved on.

On about day six, the detachment ran out of the food they had bought from the village shop. However, they arrived at a game reserve on the Shashi River valley where they shot a zebra for a meal and provisions. They had some water after having dug in the sand for about one and half metres.
Company B was now to move east in the general direction of Matopo Hills. Their immediate task was to see Paul Petersen to a train station at Dede. They parted with the rest of the detachment that now numbered about eighty guerrillas, heading in the general direction of Wankie.
Early the following day, radio news reports on some battles involving Company B started to filter through to the rest of the detachment. It was reported that one of the battles took more than six hours until the comrades ran out of ammunition. Some were arrested and many died there. Putting the pieces of information together, it appears that when Company B were at Dede station one of them was seen drinking water at a public tap. The enemy got an alert signal and the upshot was that the company was followed until the point of battle.
Similarly, Paul Petersen was followed as he travelled by train. He travelled over Tsholotsho area towards Plumtree. He apparently realised that he was being followed and got off the train, using a sub-machine gun he cleared the first road block he encountered. From that roadblock he took a motorbike and carried on southwards towards Plumtree. Riding on along the road, he found himself at an even bigger roadblock than the previous one. He opened fire, fighting his way and finally fell there.

On hearing the news of the fighting, the main body of the detachment decided to keep our radio sets on continuously, listening to the news. We moved more in the open with an aim of attracting the enemy, in the hope that they would not concentrate on Company B alone.
In the early morning of the ninth day while comrades Wilie, Modulo and Christopher Mampuru were conducting reconnaissance they spotted a large herd of animals. They followed the animals at a distance of about 200m. This led them to a big pond ahead. They were now cautious and had to consult with the rest of the detachment before shooting any of the animals. Wilie left Modulo and Christopher who decided to remain watching the animals while he went back to consult. They were not going to meet again.
Before Wilie could give any report to the detachment two spotter planes began circling the area of the pond. The detachment took up positions in battle formation as the enemy patrols in the air intensified and ground forces appeared in trucks from the direction we came. The enemy trucks passed the positions of the main body and headed for the direction of the pond. After a few moments gun fire sounded in that direction, apparently Christopher and Modulo engaged the enemy.
The following day, while the detachment was having a rest, it was hurled into action by the sound of an exploding hand grenade. The grenade exploded at the position occupied by members of a section consisting of comrades Berry, Baloi, Manchecker, Sparks and Mhlongo. Baloi and Berry died on the spot. Sparks got a bullet through the abdomen and Mhlongo was critically wounded. The enemy was busy shouting: "surrender there is nothing you are going to do".
The detachment engaged the enemy. Their remnants fled from the battlefield leaving behind their dead, maps, supplies and radios. There was one casualty on our side, Charles Sishuba. The members of the detachment got food supplies, fresh clothing, watches and water bottles and used the radios to mislead the enemy. From the maps members of the detachment were able to know about the plans of the enemy and routes they were using.
The disinformation attempts by the detachment proved to be effective, as the enemy acted on the information they received. They ended up one evening shooting at each other near a water pond. After that incident they changed their radio wave band.

The detachment reached the area of Manzamnyama, and they had a brief encounter with some members of the Rhodesian Rifles, who were predominantly black soldiers. After Manzamnyama the detachment was supposed to veer away from the Wankie Game Reserve. The terrain in the intended direction was sparse and any movement would be easily detected. The enemy was still pursuing the detachment.

During the day, while the detachment rested, the silence was broken by the sound of Halifax bombers pounding the bush area about a kilometre away from the isolated trees where the detachment rested. The bombings started a yellowish fire, characteristic of napalm bombs. After the bombers, the ground forces arrived in their trucks and started to conduct a mop-up operation.
Late the following evening the detachment fought its last major battle with a combined force of South African and Rhodesian soldiers. The enemy was routed and the detachment's casualties include comrades Donda and Jackson Simelane.
The detachment proceeded in the general direction of Plumtree. As they moved they did not realise they had strayed into Botswana. They were arrested by Botswana paramilitary police in small groups as they came across them.
The arrest of the last group more or less ended the Wankie part of the campaign and triggered the Sipolilo phase.
The JHQ undertook a general review of the Wankie battles and as the news reached Lusaka through Rhodesian citizens working in Zambia and other numerous sources, the main talk in both the ANC and ZAPU circles was that of sending reinforcements. This remained in the heads of the members of the JHQ after the fighting had died out and all survivors had been arrested. The second phase was to follow a different belief and thinking.
The plan for the second phase was based on the assumption that it was important to have a sustainable base inside Rhodesia before starting operations in South Africa.
The second detachment crossed to Sipolilo between October 1967 and January 1968. At the end of December 1967 there were over 150 guerrillas in the bushes of the eastern part of Rhodesia. The number fluctuated as more people joined and a few returned to Zambia.
The second detachment was instructed to establish guerrilla bases inside Rhodesia. They were to identify a place to set up an internal headquarters with all the necessary components, as well as alternative bases in case of need. Timeous communications with Morogoro and Lusaka (linking to ANC HQ) was going to be maintained by means of a long range multi-functional radio acquired from Germany. The radio was to be powered by means of a generator. The fuel for the generator was to be acquired from Zambia and stores were to be established by the detachment itself.
The detachment was expected to establish a number of arms caches, assisted by a supply group assembled for the purpose. The weapons, rations and uniform replenishment were supplied from Lusaka. Some of the reasons behind supplying the detachment with food and clothing was to ensure that they did not get involved in extensive hunting as that would attract the enemy.
The JHQ in Lusaka left all the main decisions to the command structure of the detachment. Teams visited the front from Lusaka and Tanzania, taking photographs to show that we had a presence behind the enemy lines. At the same time enemy activities started to grow in the general vicinity of the game reserve.
Early one morning in April 1968 the main bases that had been established in the area were the target of intensive bombing. The enemy ground forces followed the bombing. The enemy had learnt from the previous operations the importance of combining air and ground firepower. This attack triggered the clashes that were to last for more than a week, as pockets of the detachment fought in different directions, with the main force fighting towards Salisbury.
A number of comrades died in the battles that ensued, some were arrested and a few ended up in South Africa. There were then two routes to South Africa; some comrades found their way home and finally got arrested, while others were brought home through an agreement between Rhodesian and South African officials.
April 1968 was the climax of what has come to be known as the Wankie campaigns. The significance of these campaigns internationally is that they led to countries like the USA reshaping their policies on Southern Africa. Internally, the South African regime formulated the notorious Terrorism Act. The masses of our people became aware that the ANC was very much alive and still the main political vehicle for social, economic, political and cultural emancipation. Pan African Newswire

SANDILE SIJAKE was a member of the Luthuli Detachment of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I NEED SOME COMMENTS ON THIS PLEASE-Would Choppertech make a good movie documentary say for History or Discovery Channel?
Email me at shawzie@hotmail.com


Everything I Ever Needed To Know About Life, I Learned As a Helicopter Tech on Seven Squadron.

Reliving my pre-loss of innocence youth. I found this a long time back, and added a bunch of penciled notes. Cleaned it up a while ago, and just found it again while clearing files. Sending to a few who might understand.

A lot of this is inside stuff. 

1. Helicopters are cool!
2. A wallet in your trouser pocket can be a real pain in the arse.
3. Decisions made by someone over your head will seldom be in your best interest.
4. Once you are in the fight, it is way too late to wonder if this is a good idea.
5. There is no such thing as a small contact.
6. A frozen area has nothing to do with economics.
7. Happiness is a belt-fed weapon especially if it is 20mm.
8. NEVER get into a fight without more ammunition than the other guy.
9. When you shoot your gun, clean it the first chance you get.
10.White phos can make a dull day fun.
11. The terms "Protective Armor" and "Helicopter" are mutually exclusive.
12. "Chicken Plates" are not something you order in a restaurant.
13. If you are wearing a flak jacket, the incoming will probably miss that part.
14. Dying can hurt a lot. So can Living.
15. It hurts less to die with a uniform on than to die in a hospital bed.
16. A sucking chest wound may be God's way of telling you it's time to go home.
17. Prayer may not help . . . but it can't hurt.
18. Flying is better than walking. Walking is better than running.
Running is better than crawling. All of these however, are better than extraction by a Cas-Evac, even if this is technically a form of flying.
19. It is a fact that helicopter tail rotors are instinctively drawn toward trees, stumps, rocks, etc. While it may be possible to ward off this natural event some of the time, it cannot, despite the best efforts of the crew, always be prevented. It's just what they do.
20. The engine RPM, and the rotor RPM, must BOTH be kept in the GREEN. Failure to heed this commandment can affect the morale of the crew.
21. If everything is as clear as a bell, and everything is going exactly as planned, you're about to be surprised.
22. Loud sudden noises in a helicopter WILL get your undivided attention.
23. The BSR (Bang Stare Read) Theory states that the louder the sudden bang in the helicopter, the quicker your eyes will be drawn to the gauges.
24. The longer you stare at the gauges, the less time it takes them to move from green to red.
25. If something hasn't broken on your helicopter, it's about to.
26. The farther you fly into the mountains, the louder the strange noises become.
27. Running out of pedal, fore or aft cyclic, or collective are all bad ideas. Any combination of these can be deadly.
28. It is a bad thing to run out of airspeed, altitude, and ideas all at the same time.
29. Gravity: It may not be fair, but it is the law.
30.Landing in Buffalo Beans is not a good idea.
31. Eat when you can. Sleep when you can. Visit the loo when you can.
The next opportunity may not come around for a long time. If ever.
32. Combat pay is a flawed concept.
33. Medals are OK, but having your body in one piece at the end of the day is better.
34. Thousands of Rhodesians earned medals for bravery every day. A few were even awarded.
35. Hot FAF food is better than hot rat packs, which, in turn is better than cold rat packs, which is better than no food at all. All of these, however, are preferable to cold Sadza (given to you by the RAR) even if they do have the little pieces of fish in them.
36. Always make sure someone has a 9 mm Star.
37. Girlfriends are fair game. Wives are not.
38. Everybody's a hero on the ground in the pub after the fourth drink.
39. Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOUR.
40 Pilots always ask you to keep your eyes open?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Extracted from new zim situation.com

In Bulawayo A group of ZIPRA liberation war veterans has toured Mkushi war-time guerilla Camp in Zambia, to pay homage to more than 420 of their colleagues killed by a Rhodesian bombardment on the Camp on October 19, 1978. On arrival following a two-day Zambian expedition, the Mkhushi camp survivors broke into war-time ZIPRA revolutionary songs. They toyi-toyed, they chanted ZAPU slogans, there were also prayers and choruses – in all languages – reverberated through the dense forests, and should have awaken the spirits of the dead cadres sleeping in the mass graves and defence pits. The atmosphere was really somber. Even the crocodiles in Mkushi River should have noticed that this was a different day. Two buses full of ex-fighters who survived the bombing endured a two-day journey from Zimbabwe to Mkushi. The trip was the veterans’ own initiative and was funded from their own pockets, with assistance from some well-wishers. Mafela Trust, an organization that researches and documents the political and military activities of ZIPRA during the liberation war, sent some of their officers on the trip to assist with records and other information. "Mafela" was the liberation war name of the last ZIPRA commander Lookout Masuku (late). The Trust was registered in 1992 and hasMade remarkable progress in researching and recording the role of ZIPRA during the war of liberation. Mkushi camp was exclusively for female ZIPRA cadres. Female guerillas administered and commanded the camp. Mafela Trust national coordinator, Nkomo ... Latest News and Pictures">Zephaniah Nkomo said the trip was successful from the point of view that it enabled the ex-guerillas to fulfill their long-standing desire of going back to the camp to pay homage to their departed colleagues. He said while the ex-fighters appreciated efforts by the Department Of Museums And National Monuments in looking after the place, they felt more could be done to improve the shrine. Mafela Trust urges the department to also erect sites at ZIPRA camps in Tanzania, Botswana ... Latest News and Pictures">Angola And Botswana where hundreds of other freedom fighters were killed in bombings by the Rhodesian Regime during the struggle. "We appreciate the efforts of the department of museums to construct shrines in Zambia and Mozambique, Mafela Trust feels the exercise must move to erect similar shrines at camps in Tanzania and Angola," Nkomo said. He added that there was also need to recognize Botswana’s role in facilitating the struggle through their invaluable support with transit camps, Food and other utilities. Mkushi camp was raided by the Rhodesian forces on the 19th October 1978, killing hundreds of trainees and trained cadres, leaving hundreds others injured. The raid was supported by helicopter gun ships, paratroopers and ground laid ambush enemy forces. The camp, located 130 km from Kabwe Mining Town North East in the savanna grassland along Mkushi river banks became a potential target in the height of the liberation war targeting ZIPRA Camps in Zambia. Those who survived the raid continue to Live with memories of the traumatic experience, 31 years after the incident. It is this sad memory that Made the survivors to undertake the historic memorial visit to Mkushi. Survivors of the Mkushi raid, Mrs. Gift A.Basutu and Mrs. Sebenzile A. Mazinyane among others, initiated the trip and mobilized others for the tour. Mafela Trust, an organization that documents Zapu and Zipra history, was brought in at the final stages of the trip, and assisted with some logistics. The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, the custodian of all shrines, and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation were taken on board. Report compiled by Zephaniah Nkomo Despite challenges with resources, transport, fuel and immigration issues, the trip succeeded. Two buses left Bulawayo and picked up other cadres in Gweru and Harare. The traveling party arrived on the 17th and put up for the night at the Zimbabwean Embassy in Lusaka, before proceeding to Kabwe. Zambian authorities provided police escort and security to the entourage to Mkushi Camp. We arrived at Mkushi Camp at 7 pm on the 18th of October 2009. On arrival, survivors marched to the fenced shrine gate in solemn files. War cries, songs, and traditional salutes were performed as a way of announcing arrival at the shrine. More war songs, church songs, toyi-toyi, slogans, prayers and choruses – in all languages – reverberated through the dense forests, and should have awaken the spirits of the dead cadres sleeping in the mass graves and defence pits. The atmosphere was really somber. Even the crocodiles in Mkushi River should have noticed that this was a different day. As it was getting dark, candles were lit amid ritual dances, heroes’ praises, poetry and sobs by some of us as we remembered our colleagues who Lost their lives at Mkushi. It was time for the survivors of the last Mkushi ZIPRA last detachment to give their personal experiences of the attack. Their tales were harrowing. Joshua Tsharu, a local Mkushi community resident told the touring party how he and fellow residents participated in the collection of skeletons and scattered bones of the bombing victims after Zimbabwe museums authorities promised that they would be paid for their efforts. Tsharu said that a Zimbabwean delegation that visited the camp 2002 identified him and other community leaders to search and collect human skulls in the Mkushi surroundings. For every skull they found, they would be paid 50 thousand kwacha, they were made to believe. He said he collected five skulls from Camp B. His wife collected three skulls and another four along Mkushi river. Three 50kgs bag full of loose bones were collected. The Mkushi residents called off the search after no payment came from the Zimbabwean authorities. An emotional Mr Tsharu said he was bitter over the issue, and complained that no cleansing ceremony had been done, in line with tradition. In addition, the Mkushi community was further promised that a clinic and a school would be built as a thank you gesture for their support and suffering during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. This also has not been fulfilled. On the following day (19 October) a prayer and singing of the national anthem opened the day. The tour proceeded to inspect the grave sites, identification of memorial features at the Mkushi river banks, the old clinic site, kitchen, and defense pits. The tour revealed that bones and skeletons were still scattered in the defense pits and had not been removed for a decent burial. Mr Tsharu indicated more than 30 defense pits and shelters that have been covered by soil, where bones could be buried. These defense pits and shelters stretch on an area of more than 300 meters. The travelers were later addressed by ZRP Commissioner Nonkosi Ncube, a survivor of the bombings. She expressed profound gratitude to all stakeholders involved on the pilgrimage, in particular Mafela Trust and the Government for efforts to project the role of ZIPRA in the liberation struggle. Observations on Mkushi camp site The tour observed that the shrine has been mash-wire fenced enclosing 10 mass graves of bricks and cement. One mass graver has an inscription which says "411" lay there. A large quantity of expended cartridges litters the parade square zone. Another grave within the fenced area has not been properly marked and constructed. The biggest mass grave is outside the fenced area and has apparently not been properly identified and marked because thePeople who constructed the shrine did not know about it, a museums official admitted. There is need to address this urgently. The official noted that efforts were in progress towards raising the shrine to accepted standards. He also admitted the anomaly on the mass grave left outside the fence and agreed to take up the matter with Head Office. He also concurred with the delegation that there was need to redo the boundaries of the shrine regarding findings in Respect of identified defence pits and shelters and the mass grave left outside the fenced area. The delegation also called for the inscription of the Mkushi Role of Honour with the assistance of Mafela Trust, which has the personnel and records. Mafela Trust has on numerous occasions discussed with the Director Of Museums And Monuments Of Zimbabwe on the partnership projects as relating to the liberation war time archival material and information with a view to adopt user-friendly means and ways to strengthen partnership and hope the long awaited M.O.U. between the two parties will be signed and implemented soon. "Mafela" was the last ZPRA commander Lookout Masuku’s (late) liberation war name. The trust was registered in 1992 to research and document the History of Zapu and ZPRA.


So far, there has been no book that has been written by someone who was involved with one of the most important and vital key roles during the Rhodesian Bush War and that is the world of signals. Radio communications is an essential service especially in the army, airforce, and police and also where there are large areas without telephones, particularly the remote farming areas. The author served in the BSAP and was based in Beitbridge, on the south east border with South Africa. Mocambique is only 150km away and the region was a hotbed of terror and anti-terror activity. There, she liaised mainly with the quick reaction Fire Force based in the area comprising of RAF 7 Squadron (Alouettes) and the army's 1 Indep Company. Her call-sign was '303' and many in the area knew her as the 'Voice' or '303'. She took advantage of the fact she was female and would constantly be cheeky with the menfolk whilst being really strict and that kept everyone on their toes. There are many stories that will bring back memories - stories that will make you laugh, smile and bring tears to the eye. She was once overwelmed when a survivor who lost both his legs from a RPG7 incident was driven to Beitbridge to thank her for saving his life, a very emotional experience - she had intercepted a Mayday call several months earlier just by chance (her normal channel to Bulawayo was not working and so switched over to the Fort Victoria channel), an act which saved the victims' life.
Mimi is keen to hear from anyone who recalls call-sign '303' and have stories to contribute.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Someone asked me the other day, "Hey Don, did you know this guy Gordon Shaw? I think they called him Beaver. He was a blue job, a chopper tech. Did you know him? Did he see any action?" I do know Beaver Shaw and I did have the pleasure to operate with him!

My mind wanders off and I remember........Fireforce, a call-out, the wind in my face, the speed we were moving over the ground towards the target area.....and.......
“One minute out," came the words from the pilot. We pulled up and the command, "Smoke! Now!" filled my headset. I lobbed the smoke canister out the open door and we banked sharp left, the blades chopping the air in a clatter of noise; there was that brief second, when time seemed to stand still as we waited for something to happen. Then it came............

The chopper tech barked into his mouthpiece, "Roger, Gooks 10 o'clock......left, bank left, bank left now! K Car is firing!" Dum-dida-dum, the sound of the 20 mm cannon firing, dum-dida-dum and the action was on! You talk about an adrenalin rush, something to shove you to the edge of your seat, exciting stuff, all of this and more, much more! A time to pray, a time to laugh, sometimes to cry. All of these emotions come to you at different times in an airborne Fire- force assault. The experience is something once never forgotten. It is exhilarating, exciting, fast, often frightening but always, always..... magic!

In the contact described above I have recollections of glancing to my left as we circled the contact area. The tech, K Car gunner, was crouched kneeling and firing the 20 mm gun with deadly effect. His crooked smile, calm demeanor and self confidence steadied and calmed my nerves as the battle unfolded! There are flashes of green and orange on the ground followed by the roar of incoming enemy ground fire. The Perspex shatters just to the left of my head and I am stung by the plastic and shrapnel which suddenly fills the cock-pit slams into my shoulder! It feels like a hefty punch and when I touch my shoulder it’s wet, sticky and hot. Apart from that I am fine and there is no time to worry about this now as things are happening and fast! The floor between my legs bursts upwards like thin silver paper being torn as rounds crash through the aircraft floor and green hornets whizz around I duck and feel vulnerable and stupid all at the same time as there is nowhere to take cover! Nowhere to hide or dodge the bullets! I look to my left once more.....the tech is still smiling, still firing and once more I relax. Beaver you biscuit sort them out, bud! You go Boy!!

So the battle continues. The para Dak runs in over the target and deploys just off to the west. The paras seem to be ejected from the aircraft but then they steady to float and swing down towards the ground and the enemy below. All the time the K Car circles and the team watches; flashes all over the place and men running. Suddenly a billowing mushroom of white smoke makes us zero in on a contact taking place below. The radio crackles to life, "Contact, contact! Stop one we have a contact!" Beaver adjusts his position and shuffles left or right on his knees behind his gun, taking in the situation He looks, aims and a split second before firing he advises both the K Car team and the troops below, "K Car firing!" and the 20 mm once more spits out its deadly load.
There are yellow-white flashes and then a plumb of smoke as he makes a direct hit on a gook scrambling for cover behind a baobab tree. In an instance the gook disappears, vaporized. Everything is in slow motion now and the 20 mm spits again......Duda-doom....dud -dum!

Back in camp and safe on the ground I swing out of the chopper and onto terra-ferma. The chopper tech walks around and claps me on the shoulder, "Great stuff, Ishe! Wasn't that outstanding?" The pilot, Chas, unclasps his mouth-piece, "Good work, Beav! Spot on shooting, mate well done!" Chas and I saunter back to the Ops room for a debrief and some hot tea. For us the show is over for a while anyway. But for Sgt Beaver Shaw and the other chopper techs like him it has only just begun. He must now get to work and work quickly as there is no time to waste. The next call-out could come at any moment and he must re-arm, clean his gun to avoid stoppages, check everything on the aircraft, refuel, re-grease, check all oil levels and seals, all joints and blade tips as everything must be 100 % before the next siren blast signals another call-out!

Later that evening in the troop’s canteen the lads relive the battle. Stories are told and retold.The drinks flow but eventually, rather quickly actually, the lads are finished, expired, too much adrenaline has been pumping; one by one they peel off but before they go each and everyone says , Hey Beav...thanks bro you were magic up there, man. You made that 20 mil sing boet.....thank you Beav, thank you!" There are high fives all around. Eventually only a few of us are left and we reflect one last time on the day’s action and punch-up! The swirl of the last swallow and one last look at the dying fire. "Good night you all.....good job Chas and great shooting Beav. Cheers everybody. See you tomorrow." So ends a normal Fire Force day; what will the morrow bring?

Sgt Beaver (Gordon) Shaw was one of those dedicated chopper techs, a true professional who loved every minute of his work and calling. As a gunner both in the G Car and K Car he was unparalleled; apart from being a deadly shot with an uncanny knack of knowing the gooks next move before it happened he was also a great guy and a superb airborne soldier who always remained extremely modest.

I met Beaver in 1978 when he was posted as part of Fire Force Delta to Beitbridge where I was OC 1 (Independent) Coy RAR. The area was tough, dry and very hot in both meanings of the word - temperature wise and gook action. Beaver worked with me as tech/gunner in the K Car on many a call-out and I can honestly say I was always impressed by this quiet often shy young man in olive green overalls. For me he was and will always be one of the Blue Job's (Air force’s) unsung heroes as during his time with 7 & 8 Squadron his accurate shooting accounted for hundreds of gooks killed. He spent day after day doing what I described in just one action, never bitching, whinging or finding fault in anyone....just quietly doing his job!

Beaver went on to be actively involved in almost every operation where choppers were deployed as well as airborne assaults into Mozambique like the raid on Chimoio in Operation Dingo. In fact the list of his deployments is staggering.

Beaver also accompanied pilots into neighboring hostile (enemy) countries on “hot extraction” missions playing an important role in rescuing soldiers from life threatening situations and bringing them back to safety. Tasks the normal soldier never spoke or heard about but which were very real. Again, chopper techs like Beaver were never praised for their part in these highly dangerous airborne mercy missions; to this day they remain unsung heroes!
Beaver’s memoires, “Chopper Tech” is a must read for both military historians and civilians alike. It is a wonderful record from a totally different perspective of the Rhodesian war and our fight against terrorism.

I am honored to have been asked to write a foreword for this quiet totally unassuming and modest professional ….. Sgt Gordon (Beaver) Shaw.

Major Don Price BCR
OC 3Cdo

Friday, February 11, 2011