By Matthew Takaona
Many stories are told of Zimbabwe liberation war sacrifices, the losses, agonies and the permanent scars suffered and it is in the scheme of the bigger picture that the most horrendous incidents are left out.
Dewure, a small scale farming area in Gutu East barely makes it into the history books. The 2017 heroes holiday comes on Thursday August 14 and large events are on the cards everywhere in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo and all provincial and district capitals to celebrate those who sacrificed for the freedom of our country.
And in all the planning for this momentous day, there is no mention of Kamungoma. Survivors of the Kamungoma Massacre have been neglected by both Government and Zanu PF.
On May 14, 1978 at 9pm 105 civilians including one ZANLA combatant were killed at Kamungoma Small Scale Farm in Dewure East after Rhodesian Security Forces pumped bullets on more than 300 people gathered at a pungwe at the Farm. The horror started and was over in 50 minutes.
This is the most horrific war disaster in Gutu District. It is the biggest war tragedy for Masvingo Province and undoubtedly the worst massacre of civilians inside Zimbabwe during that war.
Kamungoma is a debilitating war disaster, worse than Chimoio in Mozambique and Freedom Camp in Zambia in that it affected a small community where every family lost someone.
In fact on average families lost two and some families lost as many as five in one horrible hour. Five fresh graves in a homestead in one day!
It was a funeral at every farm in the neighborhood.
The survivors of the attack are in their hundreds. Dewure East became and is a community of disabled people with tens of victims living with bullets embedded in their heads, in their tummies, in their hips, broken limbs and traumatized souls.
Many have disabilities of up to 95%.
The death rate in the area soared since 1978 as more and more succumbed to wounds of the attack. Many of those wounded on the night have since died.
The stench of death lingers in the air 39 years on.
The war left a refuge of orphans as hundreds of children grew either without one parent or both. Many orphans dropped out of school. The problems of fees continued to affect the community.
Although all those who talked to The Mirror did not regret the price they paid for the freedom of this country, they are full of anger at the neglect they suffer at the hands of a black Government.
The disabled are earning a paltry $60 a month and it does not matter the extent of disability whether it is 10% or 95% the amount is the same. This amount covers everything; food, education for children, transport for medical checkups, clothing and general welfare of the family.
“I have a bullet permanently lodged in my head just a few millimeters from the brain. On that fateful night, I lay down on the ground with tens of other people at the pungwe as the Rhodesian forces ceaselessly pumped bullets into the gathering. One hour of machine gun rattle, it was torture. Bullets either scratched or hit me on several parts of the body.
I was dumped among the dead and on May 16 1978, they dug a grave for me. People thought I was dead.
“The experience traumatised me, l can’t sleep at night, l have difficulties in walking and l cannot fend for myself. I am appealing to the Government to look into the $60 that l get from Social Welfare Department. It is too little, l spend all of it on transport.
“l was one of the mujibhas who mobilised people for the pungwe on that fateful night. Its 39 years after independence and l sometimes find myself crying; l try to come to terms with the dilemma of whether to celebrate uhuru or pity myself for participating in a process where l lost everything and am not recognized for the sacrifice, “said Petros Makwanya who has 85% disability.
Vongai Mapfumo who got her right hand amputated from the elbow after a bullet shattered her bones said she lives from hand to mouth. She earns $60 from the Social Welfare Department and she pays $10 transport to and from Mpandawana to get the allowance and is left with $50.
“I have one hand after losing the other one during the war. l therefore depend on others for most of the things that l do and $50 doesn’t get me anywhere. My mother also lost her right hand during the attack and she would have been the person to lean on. I am so bitter with what l got after the war.
“Had l not been injured l would be doing things on my own,” said Vongai who has 70% disability.
Vongai’s mother, Patricia Mapfumo who was shot several times on the hand, in the heap and on the face causing a collapse of the chin and loss of most of her teeth has 95% disability. She also earns a paltry $60 per month.
Mbuya Patricia lost her baby who was 22 months old in the attack after the hungry baby suckled a lot of blood from the injured and almost lifeless mother.
“I am old, my legs cannot carry me. I always pray to God that he touches the hearts of those who can help so that they spare a moment for us. A few years back l could do a lot of things on my own but now l can`t. (Handichagona mwanangu. Imi ndimi munovaona vari kumusoro ikoko, munongovonavo zvatiri; itai moyo munyoro mutisvitsirevo zvichemo zvedu)” said Mbuya Patricia.
Gutu East MP Berita Chikwama said she is not aware of any place inside Zimbabwe where 105 people were massacred at once. She said that she had written letters to relevant departments asking for a review of the allowance that war victims from Dewende were getting.
“I have written a letter to the Ministry of Social Welfare in line with the same questions you are asking. I know Government has no money and there are many other war victims in the same predicament as at Dewende. However, whatever the situation we must prioritise support for war victims,” said Chikwama.
Chikwama said she is doing her best to profile Kamungoma. She said she spearheaded the erection of a shrine at Kamungoma and the work ultimately involved the Department of Museums and National Monuments.
She said there are Heroes commemorations at Kamungoma this year, but she supported an event at the shrine last year. She said while it was mandatory to hold heroes commemorations at Kamungoma every year, this is not possible because of resource constraints. She said functions at Kamungoma are held at the expense of the local community. https://masvingomirror.com