A Day with INTAF - 1976
By Peter Terry-Lloyd
In December 1967, I married Myfanwy Thomas, who lived at Tilford Farm, Norton, Rhodesia. We were both teachers, she specialising in English, and I in Geography. However, I had a love of History, which was my other major at Rhodes University, Grahamstown. We lived in Pietermaritzburg for 7 years after our marriage, where we had two children, now both in Australia. From Pietermaritzburg I was posted to Ladysmith on promotion, and was there for 11 years. It was in that period that Rhodesia was really embroiled in their own war, but we nevertheless travelled to the Farm on an annual basis. It was during one of these visits that I re-established contact with my Best Man at our wedding, Pieter Henning, and he arranged a flight for me to the Easter Border to see for myself what INTAF were doing with the Protected Villages. I took off from Charles Prince early one morning in July 1976, and I took photos and kept a record of my trip. Unfortunately, time has ravaged my photos, (even though kept in an album), so there are not that many that are good for reproduction, but I attach them nevertheless. What follows is an account of my day in the border area as written up in my album.
THE PROTECTED VILLAGE – AN EPISODE IN THE HISTORY OF RHODESIA
One of the characteristics of the terrorist war in Rhodesia was the establishment of the Protected Village. This was an attempt by the authorities to reduce the supply of food and materials to the insurgents by local inhabitants in the rural areas. To this end huge communal villages were constructed in which the inhabitants lived at night, but by day they were largely uninhabited as the farmers then repaired to their nearby lands to work them. All huts in the bush were then demolished or burnt and heavy penalties were inflicted on those that did not return to the village at night.
The whole system was operated by the Department of Internal Affairs (INTAF). Each village was able to be defended in the event of a terrorist attack. There was a barbed-wire fence around the village, and somewhat near the centre of the village a Keep, which was defended with earthen embankments. There was one white in charge of a detail of guards, all of whom were armed and who lived in the Keep, which was to a certain extent defendable against attack.
Nearby the village was a landing strip for light aircraft – there were far greater problems attached to travelling on the ground.
What follows are photographs and comments, being a record of a visit to the Mudzi area, close to the Mozambique border to the north of Umtali. On a grey, overcast day I flew to Mudzi with Pieter Henning who had to visit the area in the course of his official duties in his part-time capacity. Fortunately for me, we had to fly at low altitude so that I was able to make a photographic record of our flight to and from the area. However, this was not to the liking of the pilot, as, with reason, he was concerned about getting a bullet up the arse from the gooks! In fact, we did have to fly between gomos 9mountains) at one stage, but fortunately without incident. Having dropped Pieter off, I continued with the plane in the course of the day to about four other PV’s before flying back to Mudzi and then to Salisbury. I might add that my wife was not convinced about this whole trip, as she feared of a negative outcome.
We flew over Arcturis and then the Mtoko area, where the locals were still living in the vicinity of their lands as this area was not considered a high security risk. We passed over the main tarred road to Tete where it passed alongside huge granite gomos, ideal for refuge for terrorists, besides being ideal sites for ambushes.
We then flew over Bensan Village, observing the original PV which had been burnt out by the terrorists. A new Keep was in the process of being built, but it would not be safe from rocket attack from a nearby gomo.
Mudzi itself was heavily protected control point, not only for the use of INTAF but also for the army, it being on the main road close to the border.
We then dropped in on Masadafuka Village, which was still under construction. The Keep was being built to the latest specifications, with embankments against the buildings to absorb mortar and rocket explosions. There was a double-skinned roof filled with sandbags for the same reason. The huts were so arranged that lines of fire were kept clear between the rows of huts. In front of the Keep was a large cleared area so as to enable an unobstructed field of fire.
From Masadafuka we went to the remains of Stefen village, which had been burnt out by the terrs. Once the latter had decided to take this action, the inhabitants disappeared into the surrounding bush. INTAF was powerless to stop such occurrences. Undaunted, INTAF was rebuilding the village, with water tanks, and the Keep building having the statutory reinforced roof.
I cannot recall he names of the other villages we visited before returning to Mudzi and then back to Salisbury in the late afternoon (but before sunset!). By now the clouds had lifted, so we flew at a much safer altitude!
Thanks to Peter for sharing his memories and photographs with ORAFs.
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Thanks to Mitch for sharing these photographs and memories with ORAFs.
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