Trouble At The Pungwe! Intaf Corporal George Muzinda Survives Terrorist Gang
Editor: A pungwe is usually an all night Marxist ‘Struggle Session’ in the tradition of Maoist Terror, it remains feared even decades after ‘liberation’:
“Villagers, farm employees and even in some cases, the white farmers themselves, were forced to attend the dreaded pungwes – all night indoctrination meetings which had initially been used in the ‘liberation’ war and again to intimidate voters 3 days prior to voting in the first handover elections.” ]
Trouble At The Pungwe!
From: Rhodesia’s Intaf
In July 1975 Intaf Mtoko Reaction Unit (platoon strength) – callsign 46 Tango, deployed to the Kawazwa area of Mtoko to conduct foot and vehicle patrols as part of the on-going area domination tactics used to prevent terrorist incursions. Villages were regularly visited and every other day the Tac HQ was moved for security reasons. In this manner the unit dominated the area and prevented guerrilla activity from taking place. Devious movement and implementation of our own security measures was the key.
One day the District Officer in charge of the unit had a premonition of the presence of a group of terrorists operating in the area and instructed one of the most capable men in the unit, George Muzinda, an ex RAR* soldier, to get into his civvies and deploy by bicycle to a business centre a few kilometres to the south of their temporary base to do a recce.
George was tasked to determine the attitude of the local people and to try and find out if there was an enemy presence as suspected. George duly set off and the commander waited patiently for him to return. This did not happen! George rode casually into the business centre and straight into a pungwe being held by a group of about eight armed terrorists. They were immediately suspicious of him and pulled him off his bicycle. He was accused of being a traitor and a spy and then the gang proceeded to bayonet him with their fluted bayonets attached to AK 47s and SKS rifles.
George rolled around on the ground with blood oozing from the wounds suffered at the hands of the terrorists. He realised he was in grave danger and his survival instincts and a bit of good training kicked in. After being punctured several times he feigned death and was left as such. The meeting dispersed and George managed to crawl off into some nearby bushes.
Shortly afterwards a civvie rendered George assistance and got him to his hut at great danger to himself and his family. In the mean time a second civvie had reported to the unit commander that one of their men had been attacked and was wounded, but had managed to escape.
The commander called in an Air Force Allouette III helicopter to do a search. As it circled the area looking for the terrorists and for George, the villager who had helped George sent word of his whereabouts and the commander then directed the helicopter to the place so that George could be casevacced.
George did survive the day and was promoted to lance corporal for his troubles. He certainly showed a lot of initiative and self-discipline, not to mention common sense and guts. George Muzinda was eventually awarded the Badge of Honour for this incident in 1977.
46 Tango was the only security force unit to have been in the area for some considerable time. The remoteness was great.
About Intaf In Brief:
The Department of Internal Affairs (Intaf) was formerly known as the Native Department. Intaf was the administrator of the government, seeing that laws were adhered to and that tribal disputes were resolved as well as improving the infrastructure and developing the capabilities of the people of the Tribal Trust Lands and African Purchase Areas. For example, Intaf staff built cattle dips and coordinated the massive task of dipping ALL cattle in the Tribal Trust Lands to protect herds from a myriad of diseases (white farmers had to sort themselves out!).
In 1972 when the bush war started in earnest and the districts in the north east of Rhodesia received information of incursions taking place from Mozambique. District Assistants on patrol in the Zambezi valley received information of armed insurgents crossing the Mozambique border and making contact with the local population. They persuaded the people of the valley to feed and house them and arms caches were established and targets were identified for attack. The insurgents attacked some farms in the Mount Darwin district and Army units were deployed. This was the beginning of a protracted guerrilla war.
In view of the increase of incidents and the intimidation and killing of local tribesmen who resisted the new “ideas” it became necessary for the Ministry to train and arm its members so that they could go about their daily tasks. In this way the Ministry became a para military organisation capable of looking after themselves and also to contribute towards the war effort.
As the war became more intense the role of Intaf became more important and members found themselves responsible for many activities over large areas. District Assistants knew their districts well and provided an effective network of informers. The staffs of the Intaf stations became increasingly valuable as an early warning system and were often called on to provide information on the area, terrain and people as well as acting as guides and interpreters for the various units of the armed forces.
The terrorists had to get rid of Intaf personnel to be seen to be in control of an area. Therefore Intaf personnel were considered a vitally important target for them to eliminate in an effort to demonstrate their control over the land and its people (whether the people wanted them to or not.)
Intaf men were ambushed on innumerable occasions. Land mines were planted in copious quantities and Intaf personnel were killed and wounded by them while travelling around doing their duty. With the formation of Protected Villages (at great expense) Intaf took on the role of aggressive defense. Often the terrorists considered these protected villages as a takeover of ‘conquered’ territory.
Many Intaf District Commissioners established a district reaction force to patrol and to react to incidents. The army were too thin on the ground to be everywhere and this role was seen by one faction of Intaf to be the logical alternative in fulfilling the traditional role. These units complimented Guard Force and often operated in farmland areas adjacent to the Tribal Trust Lands.