Life in the Protected Villages.

The idea of Protected Villages was not bad but the way people were ushered into the villages. It was too rapid and this did not give ample time for adequate buildings to be constructed. In a way the move saved the Honde Valley community from a possible bloodbath as it helped reduce the number of military clashes in the area [ I give it lots of  credit for that ]. The guerrillas could not effectively attack the villages without also injuring the civilians. Any such guerrilla attack that would result in death and injury to the civilians would have meant the guerrillas were now attacking the civilians and that was going to be bad publicity.

It was late November 1977 when we were told to move over to the Protected Villages. Did you know that the guerrillas also told people not to resist the move into villages ? They even promised not to attack the villages but only to provide some token attacks.

This movement was to be done within 7 days. There was no adequate building and the pole and mud huts that were built were not up to scratch. But it was better than the black plastic shelter we had for the first three days. It was such a strain to the social fabric as people were now congested into a very small area. Also we had to build houses and at the same time plough our fields as the rainy season had begun.

As for the war it meant that it had to be fought using a different formula. One could not effectively stop the guerrillas from seeing the people or the people from supplying the guerrillas. Guerillas continued to be fed by the people, how ? Cooked food was thrown in plastics over the fence to the other side, mee4tings with the villagers could still be held out of the village during the day.

Health wise it was hell – the mosquito bites were terrible and we lost quite a number to malaria. Flies were also a problem as is characteristic of crowded areas. It exposed as youngsters to real danger. I was 12 then and I remember many an occasion I was tasked to smuggle items : salt, medicines, letters out and into the village.

It also returned services such as education, shops, clinics and cattle dipping. These has been stopped early in 1976.

I do not really hold anything against the RF soldiers. They were professionals and they did not treat us badly in the circumstances, especially the first groups that came on duty prior to March 1978 – But those who came later on were a little bit rough – maybe because they were now beginning to read in between the lines. They were now questioning some of our activities eg : Why fires could be seen burning out of the village when no matches were allowed out ? Why people could enter the village in the evening bathed when no soap or towels were allowed out of the village. Or simply may be escalating  war was creeping into their nerves.

But looking back, three decades down the line, I would say the Protected Villages saved Honde Valley from a possible blood bath – many lives could have been lost. The area lay on a major guerrilla supply route.

C’est la guerre [ It was a war ]

Farai Mandura – June 2009.

The above article is an extract from the book “ Dawn  of  Deliverance “ written by Jim Peters. District Commissioner Jim [ Hamish ] Peters from INTAF played an important role in the stabilization of Honde Valley and surrounding areas during 1977. He was also an important roleplayer at the INTAF Training Centre at Chikurubi and worked always closely with Guard Force structures and elements. The article is based on inputs from a former young resident in one of the Protected Villages at Honde Valley who at the time operated also as a  “ Mujiba “ [ terrorist collaborator ] and was provided to Jim Peters  during June 2009 [ therefore seen in hindsight  30 years later and not too  much polluted by propaganda ]. The source still lives in Zimbabwe.

The above commendation kindly reproduced from info from Craig Fourie

Keep  Commander  Patrick B Bryan  remembers :

I was Guard Force Intake 2. My first posting was to GP 1 MADZIWA and early 1977 to GP 4 HONDE. Ruda Keep had not been yet established, so Guard Force was staying in the INTAF Camp. We had been told that Honde was a hot area and we had to be switched on. Just to prove a point there was a Contact further up the valley going on when we arrived. Us povo were busy trying to put up our tents, much to the amusement of the Upper Mvambas who were sipping tea some way off on a veranda. We must have looked like a real bunch of morons. Suddenly there was shooting just out of sight, we were running around like chickens without our heads, looking for rifles and a place to take cover. My rifle was leaning on a gaz bottle and when I grabbed it, it came with the bottle as it’s  strap was hooked around the valve. On the veranda the Tea party was calmly going on, as if nothing has happened. Then they burst out laughing, the shooting was from the range just below us. Welcome to Honde Valley !  [ That day I took the strap of my rifle and never put it back.                                                                                                                         Asst Comdt Frederick von der Trenck was the commander when I arrived. For some reason him and I got on well when I arrived. He used me as his run-around guy for a while, which was great travelling around the valley. When the first batch of new officers were deployed, he had to change the system. I became Keep Commander of a Keep and was given the choice of which one. So I went to Katio which was great. Asst Comdt Von der Trenck tried to get me to go on an Officer’s Course, but I had been accepted to go to Gwebi Agricultural College. So I turned it down.

Further notes from Patrick B. Bryan

Katiyo, Honde.

When I had to go into a Keep, Katiyo was my choice, having done the rounds in the Valley, it seemed the best choice. One thing I liked was the wooden barrack huts, not the stark white asbestos A Frames. The Keep walls had no decent bunkers on them, just some firing positions. So in my wisdom we got down to building them. After chatting with my Senior NCO it was decided to make them big enough so the Gd's could kip in them.

 Eventually we had the corners covered and one in the middle of each wall. I have no idea where we sourced the sandbags from, but the timber we cut from the bush. All bunkers had beds in them and the barracks were where the guys kept their kit, I think they were happy with the arrangement as they were now under cover fire. We also made a big bunker in front of the Main building and this was our Radio room. Considering they were made from untreated bush timber, I often wondered how long they survived.

Comdt  Mike  Howlett  , Derek Streak  and  Patrick  Bryan  remember a specific incident, involving JAN  PORTEUS  [  Intake 160 / 1978 Llewellin Barracks ] while serving at GP 4 Honde.

Comdt Mike Howlett recalls the day “ when myself and Jan Porteus were driving in a Kudu close to  Aberfoyle Tea Estate. In front of us was a Puma. We were using a shortcut road [ big mistake !!! ] when we hit a boosted Landmine. My back still hurts on cold winter days although it happened about 35 years ago.!

Derek Streak adds on “ I was up in the Honde when Jan Porteus hit the cake. If my memory serves me right then he was doing the payrun from PV 2 to Aberfoyle taking a shortcutroad that had not been used in ages. Ambush Alley as it was called. There was a Puma in front which missed the Landmine. The name of the African driver was Gift.”

Patrick Bryan who served at an earlier stage at GP 4 Honde remarked on the shortcut road “ I remember using that shortcutroad  between Katiyo and Aberfoyle. Was hardly ever used, so I had no hassles. After 1977 it was called Ambush Alley. My OC, Asst Comdt Freddy von der Trenck, eventually told me not to use it. So it was the long way around. “


Above picture supplied courtesy of Alan Denham (via Mike Howlett)

Group 4 Honde Valley PV locations
The sketch is from the book by Jim Parker [ Intaf ] Dawn of deliverance - the story of the battle for the Honde 1977 ".

All pictures below are kindly supplied by Michael Howlett

Honde Valley HQ (above: Quinton White, ? , Mike Howlett

Honde Valley HQ: Quinton White, ?, Mike Howlett
Katiyo junction

Rory Spencer?, Steve Lambert, David Waldemeyer