‘I saw a Rhodesian soldier writhing in agony’

The Chronicle

WE continue our interview with Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) Stanford Moyo, a former Zipra guerilla who trained in the famous Group of 800 at Morogoro in Tanzania and was later deployed for operations in January 1977 in the region later to be code named Northern Front Two (NF2), which covered Lupane, Binga, Nkayi and some parts of Gokwe.

Lt-Col (Rtd) Moyo who operated as Lloyd Zvananewako or Mabhikwa last week in his narration to our Assistant Editor Mkhululi Sibanda (MS) spoke about the battles he was involved in and today continue narrating those hair raising contacts.

Below are excerpts of the interview. Read on….

MS: Last time you were talking about how you ambushed the Rhodesians and after that you moved to Kana where you were able to join others. Tell us more your operations.

Lt-Col (Rtd) Moyo: The following day was a Sunday and people in the area started to converge for a church service. Comrades suggested we join the church service at a certain homestead. I told them I will remain outside covering them.

I remained there for an hour or two.

I started dosing as I had not slept well the previous night.

I was then awoken up by the sound of chains being pulled and when I opened my eyes I saw three giant soldiers approaching the home where the other comrades had gone in.

Behind the three giant soldiers at a distance followed two more.

MS: How did you handle that situation?

Lt-Col (Rtd) Moyo: I waited for the two to pass my position.

After that I fired three shots on top of their heads to keep them lying down so that I could also give my comrades a chance to get out of the homestead.

I was firing at the top as a precautionary measure in a bid to avoid hitting the civilians who were there as well.

I then saw the other comrades running out of the home.

And I quickly left my position and moved to join them.

MS: What did those Rhodesians do then?

Lt-Col (Rtd) Moyo: Those Rhodies then went and confronted the congregation.

They asked the congregants ukuthi who fired and people told them that they saw people carrying guns like them and they were five in number.

Suddenly we heard some shots being fired, with some bullets over our heads.

They were coming from the direction where the Rhodies were coming were.

The villagers had also shown the Rhodies the direction we had taken and the Rhodies quickly picked up the spoor.

After I had met the stick I briefed them that we moved westwards following the power lines.

At last light we decided to go back using the same power lines but moving on the northern side.

When we were about to cross to the other side, as I was leading the group I took a lot at both sides of the cleared space under the power lines and saw some movements.

It was a little bit dark and what we could see was not clear whether there were humans or animals there.

We let those disappear to the east and we crossed to the other side and headed in the same direction with them to find out what could be.

A kilometre or so from the power lines we smelt some cigarettes and presumably prayers gold leaf which was a popular smoke those days.

We waited for between 20 and 30 minutes and started hearing some birds, ogweru making some cries which indicated that those were now moving.

We waited a bit until the noise of those birds showed that those people had gone.

We resumed our follow-up along the bushes, avoiding cleared space which the above mentioned bird breeds in because the soldiers would also hear that something was following them.

At about 10pm the noise along the power lines stopped and we then moved deep into the bush where we deployed for a sleep.

At around 4am those birds started making noise and we waited to hear the direction and it indicated eastwards towards Village B27 along the Siwale-Jotsholo.

We decided to abandon the direct follow-up but continue monitoring the situation from a distance.

We went to the road and got there at about 5am.

We heard a vehicle coming from the direction of Siwale and about 600 metres after passing our position we saw soldiers boarding the vehicle and it proceeded towards Jotsholo.

We went to investigate and found that those soldiers we avoided at Kana were same we spent the night with in the same vicinity.

That group did not harass villagers but were looking for us. After those soldiers left we went and organised hot tea from the villagers.

We then met the other members of our section as we had split. We then left for Dongamuzi to meet Cde John Chironda and his unit.

We spent two days resting and then decided to leave Lupane for Binga.

MS: What was there?

Lt-Col (Rtd) Moyo: In Binga we spent a day and got information that there would be a cattle sale the next day.

A decision was taken to ambush the convoy which had soldiers and District Assistants.

The intelligence we got was that the escorting soldiers would be coming from Kamativi going to Gwayi River Mine to collect the cattle buyers.

They would then drive to Manyanda cattle sale pens.

The next morning the 22-strong guerilla outfit, which included Sandlana Mafutha got to the ambush point at about 7am.

At around 8am three military vehicles drove past our position towards Gwayi River Mine.

The last man towards that direction signaled the passing of the last vehicle. After the last vehicle had gone we adjusted our position but failed to appreciate that the distances to be covered will differ because the number of vehicles would be more.

After setting the mine which would block the convoy we waited for almost two hours.

It was a controlled mine and I am the one who set it.

Our failure to appreciate that the distances to be covered will differ because the number of vehicles would be more spoiled things for us.

After setting the mine which would block the convoy we waited for almost two hours.

I should have been dead asleep when the vehicles returned. Chironda who was next to my ambush position picked a small stone and hit me on my back when he noticed that I was asleep.

When I woke up I heard the sound of an approaching truck, I quickly held my string to be ready to ignite the mine.

I lay behind an anthill 80 metres east of the distance of the road when facing Kamativi Mine.

When the wheels of the vehicle were within the mine position I pulled the string, a thump followed, black smoke covered an area of about 20 square metres and I could not see any target for some seconds.

After that I saw a huge man, a white man writhing in pain.

He was facing up and I quickly offloaded a good number of rounds into his chest and he lay quiet.

I then spotted three rifles strewn along the road and two soldiers, all Africans lying dead.

MS: What was your next move?

Lt-Col (Rtd) Moyo: I went for the weapons, got hold of the first, the second and the third remained because there was a sudden burst of fire from the enemy.

I jumped westwards of the road, took cover and looked where I had come from.

I saw a volume of tracers covering the whole area where we had taken positions during our attack.

I realised that if I went towards the east I would be killed or injured.

I could be captured as well. I took towards the west, running as fast as I could.

When I was far off from the scene of the ambush maybe four or five kilometres I was caught by a hunter’s snare.

I had been running down a stream along a path that was used by wild animals.

That snare was meant for kudus.

MS: So where were you caught?

Lt-Col (Rtd) Moyo: I was caught on both arms and held by the snare for over a minute.

I was confused, my thinking was that I was being held by the snare of the enemy.

I released myself by moving backwards.

I then moved on along and a kilometre away met the hunter or poacher as they are called.

I started asking questions and during our conversation I told him that I was wrong as there was nothing wrong with him hunting for the pot.

I gave him the freedom to choose which area to put his snares but pointed out strongly that they should be heading towards the west. We then moved on and two kilometres or so from his home we saw opened tins of beef and fish.

It was an indication that Rhodesian soldiers had been around.
To be continued next week

Article Source: The Chronicle

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