The horror of the 1978 Gutu massacre revisited


GUTU – At around 3pm on a Sunday on May 14 1978, mujibhas went around calling people from Dewende area of Dewure Small Scale Farming Area to a pungwe. This was unusual because pungwes were usually called for towards sunset to avoid word getting to the enemy about the next meeting place.

Another very unusual approach to the pungwe on the day was that mobilisation went further than it used to; mujibhas went as far as calling people in the neighbouring Chimombe communal areas to the meeting.

The gathering was huge. It was a packed place with over 300 people. Again there was something unusual about the arrangement; there was just one group of eight Zanla combatants led by Cde Double Killer for such a huge gathering.

Normally such a gathering would require at least three or four groups to provide sufficient protection from the enemy, according to sources.

By 7pm people had trouped from all over and gathered at the homestead of the late Washington Kamungoma. People sat on a stretching flat rock outcrop (dwala) at the centre of the homestead and a huge fire was made since it was winter.

The fire was so huge that it could be seen from many kilometres away.

People were in high spirits since this was the onset of the liberation war in the district. Some people were seeing the Zanla combatants for the first time.

The singing broke out and in no time everyone was absorbed, mujibhas and chimbwidos danced in the centre while the comrades one after another took time to address the people.

At around 9pm there was something telling, one of the comrades, Diamond Dombo came into the ring and whispered into the ear of group leader Double Killer who was leading in the singing.

Probably trying to find a way of breaking the news to the people, Double Killer decided to get into one more song. He sang a song that denigrated the white soldiers; Bhunu rakatsva musana nokuti khaki inopisa.

It later emerged that Diamond Dombo was in the ring to inform his commander that the enemy was in the vicinity. Mugabe Mugariwa who ran many kilometres to warn the comrades of Pumas that were driving towards the pungwe was also standing together with Diamond Dombo.

“Just as Double Killer moved from one end of the gathering to another, we saw a flash in the sky and he staggered and fell to the ground. No one suspected that he had been shot, we thought he was still dancing until heavy gunfire broke from two main directions.

“Diamond Dombo dropped to the ground and ordered everyone to lie down as the sky above our heads became a sheet of bullets. Diamond Dombo rolled and crawled on the ground and he was gone.

“Mugariwa who brought the message about the soldier was also shot and seriously injured.

“The firing went on for the next 20 minutes nonstop as people cried out in pain. The firing stopped for a while and began again and went on for another similar period and this time there was more crying. It stopped again and after a while it resumed and blood was flowing like a river across the dwala. Everyone was drenched in blood, either from one’s own wounds or from others,” said Vongai Mapfumo.

The gunfire only died down when the comrades who were now a distance away fired once into the air leaving the ground shaking.

It was later realised in the morning that all soldiers involved in the massacre were white.

People spent the whole night crying out for help but nothing came until day-break when the soldiers came and collected the injured and airlifted them to hospitals.

“People were crying out for water to drink but no one brought it. I heard one woman begging for anybody who could pass urine into her mouth,” said Vongai.

All the deceased were buried immediately and it was a minimum of two in a grave. None was buried in a coffin.
The other comrades who were in the group were Take Two Masango, Tamisayi Mabhunu, Short, George Chizizimbori, Diamond Dombo, Mabhunu and Shumba.

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