Tales of Bravery
District Assistant Weston Vhudzijena - Victoria ARU - KIA 8th October 1978 ZAKA
DA Weston Vhudzijena was the personal radio operator to District Officer Hosking, Commander of the Victoria ARU. At approximately 09:40 on the morning of Wednesday, October 8th 1978, DA Vhudzijena was travelling in a convoy of 4 Victoria ARU vehicles returning from a morning dipping exercise in the Zaka District. As usual, and together with his radio and his weapon, he was sitting next to the Unit Commander. Together they were travelling in a Puma, second in line in the convoy.
As the convoy was approaching a very sharp bend in the road the leading vehicle , a Leopard mine protected vehicle (MPV), came under very heavy small arms fire from a well laid enemy position directly to their front. The right hand wheel of the leopard was shot to shreds bringing the vehicle to a halt in the middle of the road. The remaining sections on the other vehicles immediately debussed, went to ground and engaged the enemy in a fierce fire fight. DO Hosking led his section on a flanking attack while receiving accurate fire support from the mounted Browning machine gun operated by DA Sam Chenjerai. Their progress was however hampered by the existance of a three-strand barbed wire cattle fence running along the side of the road. Using the tactic of fire and movement DO Hosking ordered his section to move towards the enemy position, all the while under enemy small arms fire.
DA Vhudzijena reached the fence and while attempting to clear this obstacle, was cut down by three AK47 rounds. His wounds were so severe he lay where he fell while the rest of the section assaulted the terrorist ambush position some 50 yards ahead. Accurate and sustained covering fire from the mounted Browning machine gun, supported by 2 .303 Bren guns succeeded in routing the ambush position and the section was able to sweep through the enemy and regroup in all round defence. The sweep revealed one slightly shredded terrorist and one SKS rifle plus various items of webbing and mugs of water.
While the ambush position was being secured and all round defence established in the event of a terrorist counter attack, Corporal Charles, the Unit medic began work on trying to save the life of DA Vhudzijena. His wounds were bad, all three rounds striking him in and around the stomach. One round exited the small of his back taking a kidney with it. Corporal Charles was an excellent well qualified platoon medic, but even the best Doctor would not have saved Vhudzijena. His wounds were such that Corporal Charles could not stop the loss of blood. Radio contact with both the main Intaf base and the Police relay station at Delta Alpha were poor because of the surrounding terrain thus our efforts for an immediate casevac was impossible. Time was of the essence, so DA Vhudzijena was lifted into the Puma, and with close attention from Corporal Charles, the convoy continued its journey back to base. Vhudzijena was loosing blood at a savage rate and despite the heroic efforts of the medic, he could not save Vhudzijena. He tragically lost his fight for life and passed away before we reached the Base.
The death of DA Weston Vhudzijena marked the first and only fatality suffered by the Victoria ARU in its 2 and a half years of operational deployments in the Victoria Province. While the unit had several contacts with terrorists in the Province, the loss of this young member of the Unit only served to galvanise an already determined band of brothers to revenge his death. That was not long in coming and on our next tour of duty in the Gutu APA (African Purchase Area) revenge was sweet when the unit, acting on intelligence given by the local Police Special Branch office, reacted to a terrorist sighting on one of the purchase farms. The contact, in the early hours of the morning following an all night "pungwe" cost the terrorists 3 dead and 1 captured. "Izvi ndizvo zinoda vanhu"
Weston Vhudzijena will always be remembered by DO Charles Hosking for his unfailing loyalty, dedication and exceptional standard of discipline. That such a young life was lost for such a noble cause in the service and defence of his country, Rhodesia, will never be forgotten.