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    Thursday, 10 August 2017

    Holy Cross head and family miraculously escape 1979 attack

    •       11 die as Zanla combatants attacked Muzorewa militia camped at school


    THE MIRROR joins the Nation in commemorating the 2017 Heroes Holidays. In our commemorative issues we shall report on key fierce battles fought in each of the provinces that we cover as a newspaper. This week we kick off with a battle fought between Bishop Abel Muzorewa's Auxiliary Forces and the Zanla Forces at Holy Cross Primary School in Manyene in Chikomba District in January 1979.
    Prominent Harare businessman and a former school head at Holy Cross Primary School in Manyene, Philemon Madziyire has a blood chilling story to tell about the war.
    His escape from a January 1979 battle fought at the school premises can only be described as miraculous. A jacket that he left on a chair in his office was burnt to ashes and so were all the books in that room.
    Madziyire stayed at the school with most of his family including his wife Alice who was also a teacher there. But on this day none of the family members was at the school.
    Speaking in an interview with The Mirror, Madziyire said he together with many school heads in the area cooparated with the Zanla forces and the heads and teachers would from time to time contribute money towards buying clothes and other materials needed by the forces for the execution of the war.
    He would join pungwes (night vigils) and travel to Harare to buy required materials.
    "The Zanla forces had very good public relations and remained very friendly for as long as you did not cross their path. I used to have a nagging chest pain that troubled me for many years; it disappeared for good after I received an injection from one of the combatants' medics," said Madziyire.
    He said the problems at his school started when Bishop Abel Muzorewa's ANC military wing known as Pfumo Revanhu came and established their camp in the school yard. They dug out trenches and some took over teachers' houses and accommodated themselves.
    Pfumo Revanhu or Madzakutsaku as they were infamously referred to became notorious for abusing people in the area. They took in a number of civilians including boys and girls and stayed with them at the camp.
    One mid afternoon in January, the Zanla forces suddenly pitched up at the school and immediately started shelling at the Pfumo Revanhu positions and there was heavy firepower that lasted almost an hour. It left 11 civilians and Pfumo Revanhu combatants dead.
    Madziyire said he has the Almighty God to thank for his survival and that of  his family. Two days before the battle, his wife left the school in a huff to attend to one of their sons who was ill at a boarding school.
    His daughter, Loice who was doing grade 2 at the school left at around 1pm for their rural home which was about 7km away since it was a Friday.
    Madziyire's wife was supposed to return from her son's boarding school on the same day and so at around 12 Madziyire left his jacket in the office, locked the door and went to the bus stop to meet her.
    Just as he arrived at the bus stop which was at Chambara Business Centre, he was jolted by explosive noise from the direction of the school and it was smoke and fire.
    "I was supposed to be in the office when this battle raged and my wife and daughter were supposed to be in the teachers' cottage but somehow circumstances drove all of us out of the school. I don't see how we could have survived this battle had we been in the school yard because the teachers' cottage was shelled and my office caught fire from the firepower," said Madziyire
     After the attack, Madziyire got into trouble with Muzorewa's Pfumo Revanhu soldiers who could not understand how the Zanla forces attacked the school when his whole family had left.
    He was no longer safe in the area and he escaped to Harare. This was the genesis of his successful business and farming ventures.local news
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