|Battle of Chinhoyi|
|Part of Second Chimurenga|
The tomb of the unknown soldier at National Heroes Acre
|Rhodesian Security Forces||Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA)|
|Casualties and losses|
|Unknown||7 (some say 21)|
The Chinhoyi Seven are a group of seven liberation war fighters that infiltrated into Rhodesia from Zambia in April 1966. On 28 April 1966 the fighters were intercepted by Rhodesian Forces near (just south of the Manyame River) Chinhoyi and the first battle of the Second Chimurenga erupted. The Battle of Chinhoyi was effectively the first military action against the Ian Smith regime after his Unilateral Declaration of Independence of November 1965.
The seven were attacked by jet bombers and helicopters and held off the Rhodesian forces for the whole day until they ran out of ammunition and were all killed.
- David Guzuzu
- Arthur Maramba
- Christopher Chatambudza
- Simon Chingozha Nyandoro
- Godfrey Manyerenyere
- Godwin Dube
- Chubby Savanhu
How it happened
A number of accounts have been put forward by people involved at that time.
Obert Mazhandu's account
An account by Dare ReChimurenga member, Obert Mazhandu, was that to prepare for the guerilla activities to be carried out in Rhodesia, he sat down in Lusaka with some Zanu High Command members William Ndangana, Felix Rice, Bernard Mutuma, Mukudzei Midzi and Alfred Mutasa. These guys chose the fighters and told him that they were ripe to execute the mission. The fighters then came to Lusaka where they were locked in a Clan transport vehicle in preparation for their mission into Rhodesia. They were supposed to disembark somewhere close to Chinhoyi. Some contacts were already waiting for them with their ammunition. According to Mazhandu the fighters would travel in the back of the truck into Rhodesia and would disembark somewhere close to Chinhoyi were some contacts were already waiting for them with their ammunition.
He then sent out the group into Rhodesia with the intention of hitting some targets in Chinhoyi to "signal to the Rhodesians that we were back to reclaim our country through the gun." The leader of the group was Patrick Mandizha. According to him, when the seven fighters got into Chinhoyi, they stayed at some house for a few days studying their targets. However on trying to get to the targets, the fighters were cornered in an ambush before they got there.
Nyikadzino Chivende's account
Mudhumeni Nyikadzino Chivende, who was part of the people that assisted the Chinhoyi 7 with supplies in Chinhoyi has a different account. According to Chivende after crossing into Rhodesia through the Zambezi River near Chirundu the seven went to Chinhoyi with the intention of destroying the power line from Kariba Hydro-power station which would plunge the country into darkness and act as a signal to other groups that had infiltrated the country in Mutare, Rusape, Chegutu and Mvuma. In Chinhoyi they stayed in the bush for several days receiving food and other help from the community in the area.
They intended to blow up a pylon at Lion’s Den, but failed and it only resulted in a minor blackout in Chinhoyi. After the setback the guerrillas consulted the local spiritual leadership which conducted rituals and gave them assurances that all would be well. However the Rhodesian forces descended heavily on Chinhoyi and at about 9 AM on 28 April, the first shots were fired. The battle went on until 4PM when, after running out of ammunition, the seven were killed.
The number of Rhodesians forces' casualties is not clear.
Victims of Selling Out
Some individuals have claimed that the interception of the Seven by the Rhodesian forces was the result of being sold out by some members of the Dare ReChimurenga who would inform on the activities in Zanu. In November 2015, in an interview he gave to the Sunday Mail, Obert Mazhandu who had been part of the Dare ReChimurenga and had sent the Seven out into Rhodesia said to refute claims that the Seven were ill-prepared for battle:
I don’t agree with that at all. I am the one who sent those fighters into Rhodesia. I knew all of them by name. Even the second group we sent, I knew all of them by name. What happened is that we were sold out. Takatengesana tega tega in Zambia. Some people we recruited were not genuine. They were sellouts sent by the Rhodesian government. Those comrades were not supposed to die. They sneaked into Rhodesia zviri smart and they were not supposed to die. Those comrades were sold out. Someone who was in Zambia who knew that the comrades had sneaked into Rhodesia is the one who sold out. Those comrades were well trained in Ghana. They were not the type that would walk into an ambush. No. I suspect someone in Zanu leaked the information about these comrades to the Rhodesian government. There were some people we suspected.
- The site of the battle is now Mashonaland West Provincial Heroes’ Acre.
- Some accounts state that there could have been as many as 21 guerrillas at the battle.
- It's been claimed by some eye-witnesses that the guerrillas brought down about 4 helicopters of the Rhodesian Forces
- The seven received help from Mudhumeni Nyikadzino Chivende and Alex Nharara who delivered explosives, medicines and other things on the 27 April. For their part the two were caught and jailed for terms of three and five years respectively at Sikhombela.
- It's been claimed that the Chinhoyi 7 group was sent into the country ill-prepared just to make a statement to the OAU (to get their support) that Zanu was doing something on the ground.