The Burial of Chitepo
- Soon after the death of Chitepo, Mrs. Victoria Chitepo and some of Chitepo’s relatives were going through Chitepo’s wardrobe looking for suitable clothing in which to dress the body. Mrs. Chitepo told the Commision that when they took some of the clothes to the laundry, she found the following letter (in Chitepo’s own handwriting) in one of the pockets:
I wrote you from Malawi, a letter, hope you have by now received it. I did not there mention that Hamadziripi had been detained by the Malawi Police. After writing you, I too was arrested together with the third comrade who is still there in detention. They later released me. It’s difficult to know the reason, but one police officer said to me “you are lucky, these friends of yours meant only ill against you” and someone else said that the other man, not Hamadziripi had given him a list of men I suppose the Karangas intended to eliminate. The list included me and most of the Manyikas as well as Sekai. I am not in fear of my life immediately, but all the actions of my comrades are suspicious and distrustful. I talked to the Minister and after all these events, he repeated that you and the children are welcome. In general, your visit should not be affected by these events.
Love, Yours, Herbert’
- One witness, in commenting on the behavior of ZANU leaders at the scene of the crime, said that they were standing quite apart, aloof and unconcerned, as if Chitepo had been a total stranger to them.
- The first concerted action taken by ZANU leaders was the issue of a Press Release from the ZANU Publicity Office in which Chitepo was referred to as the National Chairman of ZANU. This was a direct flouting of the Unity Accord of December, 1974.
- The DARE next embroiled itself in the funeral arrangements of the deceased Chitepo. They felt that Chitepo having been a militant leader of ZANU, the Party should make all funeral arrangements and that the mourners should gather at a place selected by the Party.
- Chitepo’s family, however, strongly disputed this and instead gathered at Sanyanga’s house. When Chitepo’s house was opened to the mourners, both the Party supporters and the relatives used to gather there from time to time.
- A State funeral attended by President Kaunda, Bishop Muzorewa, top UNIP and Government officials, Delegations from neighboring African countries, as well as Members of the Diplomatic Corps and Representatives of Liberation Movements took place on Saturday the 22nd March 1975, (which was declared a day of National Mourning in Zambia). Silas Shamiso and young Sambwa Chaya were buried next to Chitepo at Leopard’s Hill Cemetery. The attendance at the funeral was one of the largest ever. The interest shown by the Zambian Government in the funeral arrangements led the DARE to accuse the Government of complicity in the death of Chitepo. Ex-ZANU Leaders on the Run.
- After the burial of Chitepo, the DARE, according to the evidence, convened a secret emergency meeting at which decisions were taken about the immediate future of some of the Members. Soon after, Tongogara held a meeting with the members of the High Command. He explained to them that the DARE felt that he and others should not be arrested by the Zambian Authorities but that they should leave Zambia. The High Command was skeptical about such a decision, and pointed out that it might be an act of treachery by the other members of the DARE. In any case, his flight would surely be regarded as incriminating evidence for the death of Chitepo. Tongogara was undecided, and reported back to the DARE, which remained resolute in its orders. In the face of this, the High Command gave in. It was therefore decided that Tongogara, Chauke, Chinomoropa, Dzino and Josiah Tungamirai should go to Mozambique until the dust had settled. Some members of the High Command were to go to East Africa, and these were Ndangana, Manyika and Rex Nhongo. In Lusaka, there were going to remain Chigowe, Chimurenga, Mpunzarima and Dauramanzi. Information had been received that the Zambian Authorities had decided to arrest all ex-ZANU leaders.
- Chigowe, ZANU Chief of Security, is said to have arrived in Lusaka from Malawi on the 19th March,1975, a day after the assassination of Chitepo. He was, on the order of DARE, to stay in Lusaka together with others in accordance with the deployment plans of DARE following Chitepo’s death.
- However, Chigowe and others felt very uncomfortable after hearing that some people had been arrested and decided to flee the country. He decided to go to Tanzania. He had been informed since Monday the 24th March, 1975, that he was & wanted person by the Zambia Police. According to his evidence, as soon as he got this information, he started ‘dogging’ the police until he finally left Zambia on Friday the 28th March, 1975.
221, Before leaving Zambia, Chigowe took his wife to her relatives in Zambia, since he expected to be away for a long time. This clearly shows that Chigowe had no intention at the time of making voluntary return to Lusaka until the situation had calmed down. He was proceeding to Uganda by way of Tanzania.
Tongogara’s Startling Revelations in Mozambique
- Tongogara proceeded first to Chifombo to address the ZANLA General Staff there, and to acquaint them with the situation in Lusaka as well as to explain his mission. They were rather of the opinion that he should go to Zimbabwe instead, where he could be of practical usefulness to the Freedom Fighters there. Tongogara disagreed with them, pointing out that his presence at the home front would be dangerous not only to himself personally but also to Zimbabwe nationals in Southern Rhodesia.
- In his statement to the Mozambique Authorities, Tongogara said that the DARE had sent him and others on a mission. to FRELIMO in order to make arrangements about bases and the reception of recruits to and from Zimbabwe. He also disclosed that he had been sent to expose the Zambian Government ‘for the obstructive role it was playing in the Zimbabwe Liberation Movement, with special reference to ZANU, and the DARE in particular, including the arrest of ex-ZANU leaders after Chitepo’s death’. Tongogara’s statement to the Mozambique Authorities is a comprehensive statement, which incorporated some startling revelations, supplied many vital missing links and confirmed much of what was already known in connection with the state of affairs in ZANU immediately before and after the assassination of Chitepo.
- Regarding the. Unity Accord, Tongogara said ZANU had been wholly opposed to it, and the acceptance of the Accord was not regarded as a-genuine act by the Party. ZANU had yielded to pressure from the ‘African States on which it depended for support in the national struggle. The only language Ian Smith understood was that of the gun. Tongogara revealed that Rev. Sithole, in spite of the pledge to merge ZANU into ANC, secretly advocated armed struggle by ZANU as a separate body.
- When asked to explain how Chitepo died, Tongogara told the Mozambique Authorities that the cause could be traced to any one of the following, which he called ‘areas’ and not to a specific individual as such:
(a) Chitepo’s own compatriots who were counter-revolutionaries. This included people like Mutambanengwe, Sanyanga, Mukono and others who hated Chitepo for the way he thought he condoned the injustices and deaths of his relatives and friends.
(b) The Malawi trip and the arrest of his two colleagues, Hamadziripi and Chigowe and his return without them.
(c) The security at Chitepo’s house where he had bodyguards placed there by the Party and who were not supposed to sleep, which meant that the placing of the bomb ‘could only be with the co-ordination of Sadat or the other guards.
- As regards of the involvement of Ian Smiith or any other racist agency in the death of Chitepo, Tongogara was categorical in exonerating them. On this question, Tongogara said, ‘Chitepo definitely we must rule out the question of Smith killing Chitepo. I must rule out the question of any other external influence. This is out. Chitepo was not killed by ZANU as a Party. That I want to be honest. We never sat down to decide step by step, but Mataure died at the hands of ZANU as a Party.’
- Tongogara amplified the position further. He said, Mataure died at the hands of the Party but Chitepo not at the hands of the Party ZANU. This is why I was saying “Not ZANU”. Chitepo was a victim of division. I want to be very honest with you. Chitepo was a victim of division and a victim of the internal squabbles. Chitepo was a victim of what you call clashes of confidence in each other within the leadership; Chitepo died at the hands of this. The death of Chitepo, Tongogara admitted, should not be attributed to ZANU as a Party but rather to the members that constituted the Supreme Council, the DARE and the High Command.
The Arrest of Ex-ZANU Members
- Meanwhile, the Zambia Police embarked on an intensive investigation and as a result of information received, the offices of ZANU were closed between the 20th and the 22nd March, 1975. By the 23rd March, police investigations had progressed to the extent where a decision was made to arrest a number of ex-ZANU officials. A total of 55 persons were arrested. On the 24th March, 1975, the number rose to 70. After interviews, some were released immediately, while others were detained. At the time of the Commission’s first sitting in July, 1975, the number of ex-ZANU detainees was 49.
- Chigowe was arrested by the Tanzania Authorities soon after entering the country and was sent back to Lusaka. Meanwhile. Tongogara and the others who had fled to Mozambique had been surrendered to the Zambian Government.
- Further Police investigations led to the discovery of mass graves around Chifombo and other areas in Mozambique. The body of John Mataure was identified among the bodies exhumed. The death of Chitepo led to the discovery by the Zambian Government of a multiplicity of atrocities, kidnapping and killing, which had been clandestinely carried out by ZANU. Stay tuned for next Friday’s installment – Chapter 9 – The Findings of the Commission.
Source: Special Commission on the Assassination of Herbert Whiltshire Chitepo, published in Lusaka in March 1976 by the government of Zambia.