DC's Station Marandellas
Marandellas is situated 72 km south east of Salisbury on the main road and railway line that stretches from Salisbury to Umtali and on to Beira in Mozambique. The town first started as a staging post for the wagon and coach route between the two towns. As the country developed and the railway line was constructed in 1898 the Native Commissioner and the police moved the 6 kilometers from the original settlement to the railway line. When the Rhodesian Field Force was mobilized for the Anglo Boer War the force was deployed to Marandellas for a while. Some graves of soldiers from the Field Force still remain.
Marandellas derived its name from the local chief Marondera and was an important center for agricultural activities such as beef and dairy cattle, maize and deciduous fruits. It is the highest town above sea level in the country and its climate is temperate, allowing for such agricultural activities to take place. Light industrial activities included a brewery, saw mills pre fabricated wooden building factories, an abattoir, and a game skinning tannery. As the war developed ZANLA deployed into the rural areas of Marandellas and commenced with a concerted effort to subvert the people of the area. They planed several landmines which were detonated by the security forces and civilians alike. Intaf established fortified base camps in the Tribal Trust Lands to allow its men to continue their task of looking after the people.
Ian Paper served with Intaf at Marandellas as a Field Assistant and as a Primary Development Officer (PDO) for several years and this is his story.
Having served four years in the Chibi TTL. first as a Field Assistant and later promoted to Primary Development Officer from 1969/73, working under DC's Jim Latham - Rupert Goosen and Keith Bloore I got my transfer to DC's Office Marandellas early 1973. I almost caught up with Jim Latham again, but he was transferred to Mt. Darwin as I arrived in Marandellas.
Marandellas is a small town South East of Salisbury on route to the Eastern border town Umtali. I was quite excited about being back in Marandellas as my junior education years were spent at Marandellas Boarding School situated opposite the old Native Commissioners Office, the new school later called Godfrey Huggins School situated near the well known " Three Monkeys Inn ". This was the closest school for my parents who were one of the earliest farmers to settle in the Mtoko/ Mrewa area back in 1946/7.
Staff at DC's Office Marandellas
DC - Brian Lucas 1973/6
DO - Andre Scholts
CDO - Simon Lucas
AO - John Hardy
PDO - Ian Paper
DC - John Saunders 1976/?
DO Nick Baalbergen
DO - Barry Enslin
DO - Peter Harvey
There were other names (Land Officer's - Pay Masters - Accountants) unable to remember.
Marandellas had two TTL's to manage, Chiota TTL situated south west and Soswe TTL south east of the town. Chiota the larger of the two was a very open flat sandy poor soil area, there were two Chiefs. The southern area controlled by Chief Nyandoro and Chief Chiota controlled a much larger area in the north. Soswe TTL one of the smallest, surrounded by land owned by white farmers was well wooded, hill ranges, rocky outcrops through out and fertile soil were ruled by one Chief.
My roll as Primary Development Officer for the two regions was to supervise maintain all roads bridges, cattle dipping services, boreholes, plan new projects on budget from African Development Funds. The work force was all employed locally. Whilst most Northern regions of the Country were experiencing Terrorist activity, Marandellas was living a normal life. I had military commitments with the 4th Battalion Rhodesia Regiment in Umtali right up until 1976, because the war had spread into most regions of Rhodesia. Intaf was considered a part of the security forces at this time and it was decided that all Intaf personnel could then do their National Service commitment within the organisation.
In 1976 John Saunders the DC for Mtoko transferred to Marandellas having done his share in one of the hot spots and Brian Lucas DC for Marandellas on the other hand was keen to get in amongst the action did a change of posts. Brian Lucas, I believe is now living in Canada. No sooner had John Saunders arrived in Marandellas looking forward to a slower pace of life when tragedy struck and very sadly Intaf. had lost their first Vedette N.R. Logan ambushed on the way back from a day of dipping cattle in the south east of the Soswe TTL. I was deeply shocked to hear this on my return from annual holidays in Durban South Africa. From this point on there were dramatic steps taken on security wise, all Intaf. buildings were sand bagged, Transport vehicles were replaced with armour plated ones, I received a land Rover with Roller bars and anti mine blast protection and radio communication. From that point on all Cattle dipping services gradually phased out and all Intaf. members played more of a security roll. We had the services of Vedettes ' John Davies and Fred Besuidenhout ' manning the Soswe Base camp with the assistance of DA's and myself from time to time supervising the construction of new sleeping quarters, mortar bunkers and security fences.
The war eventually hit Chiota TTL mainly in the southern region, the area ruled by Chief Nyandoro and many local's fell victim to the Terrorist. A Mantel Mounted Unit set up a base camp in the African Purchase area in the southern region and operated there with success, but soon after one of their units with Mike Hollice on board detonated the first land mine in area not far from Chief Nyandoro's Kraal. We had two volunteers ' Alan Pittaway and Dave Birch ' who helped Intaf man the Chiota Base Camp. Two busses loaded with locals detonated land mines on the same day in Chief Chiota's area to the north not long after. I also remember the day the DC John Saunders arranged a meeting with the local Witch Doctor and we were all invited into his hut, but without our rifles, I felt very uncomfortable about that, I don't really remember much about what was said, it had an airy feel about it, however I am still here to be able to tell the story.
Chief Chiota's son who was quite loyal to the Intaf. Administration was murdered along with other members of the Chiota family. A search party consisting of Intaf. and local Police set out on foot around the Chiefs area, soon we came across a pack of dogs and there we found the remains of there bodies buried in shallow graves. That was one of the longest days I have ever experienced as we had to give protection to the remaining Chiota family while they prepared a proper funeral, going through all the traditional death ceremonies.
Many incidents happened as time went by and if I remember correctly in July 1979, I was asked to take a team of DA's in the ADF truck filled with sand bags up to Sipolilo to assist the DC there in a mammoth task to round up all locals in the Mushumbi Pools area and transport them into makeshift keeps. It took a whole day to get to the DC's office in Sipolilo where we met up with other teams from other stations, we camped the night there and moved out early the next morning in what was to be a slow convoy winding down the steep escarpment into the valley below, the aim was to reach the Intaf. and Police base camp at the junction of the two large river sources and long bridge (cannot remember the name of the place) the base camp was across the bridge on the edge of the river banks.
Despite the fact we had a land mine sweeper in front of our convoy one of the ADF trucks struck a land mine and we came under fire for a brief moment. The convoy stopped and naturally everyone scrambled off the road into the bush and DA's started firing away at nothing in all directions (one of the most terrifying moments of my life) however under control eventually no one was hurt. We did not make it to our destination so camped on the side of the road for the night. This area was running rife with Ters hence the need to move locals into keeps. We tackled the job asked of us but have to say there was not a day without incidence over the two weeks I spent there. I had to be home for something or other as the task took longer than expected, the DC made arrangements with a pilot doing a drop off at a nearby runway to pick me up if he had room as it turned out the plane was packed with all sorts of stuff, my personal DA and myself lay on the floor behind the pilot’s seat for the short flight to Sipolilo where I was asked to return a Land Rover to Salisbury.
Arriving home safely was such a relief for my wife and two young boys, because we were already planning to move to Australia to start a new life and later that year, I finished up with Intaf at the end of November. The day we left Rhodesia 6th January 1980 was not without incident either, because it was the same day Robert Mugabe and his band of men were expected to arrive in the country. Eventually we were in the air but only flying tree top level in circles gradually climbing, little did we know it at the time but apparently there was a Sam Missile scare surrounding Salisbury.
Ian Paper at Soswe TTL base