Towns in Mozambique which lie near the border with Rhodesia are reported to have raised "people's militias" for their own defence.
Towns in Mozambique which lie near the border with Rhodesia are reported to have raised "people's militias" for their own defence. This follows raids by Rhodesian troops last month on five small towns in Mozambique's Limpopo district. One of the towns to set up a militia is Mapia.
SYNOPSIS: The Mozambique Government says that Mapai was attacked by Rhodesian forces on Saturday, June 26, and when this film was shot on the following Friday (2 July) the town still presented a scene of utter destruction. Every concrete building had been bombed, burned or strafed with machine gun fire, and the only two storey structure had been reduced to a pile of rubble. Sixteen civilians and three Mozambique soldiers were killed in the first few minutes of the attack.
The raid was a daring one. According to eye-witnesses, six vehicles full of black soldiers dressed in battle uniforms, slipped across the border from Rhodesia the night before as the people of Mozambique were celebrating the first anniversary of independence. The vehicles flew FRELIMO flags, and drove the ninety kilometres (56 miles) to Mapai, often cheered on by villagers.
The attack took place at dawn and these mass graves were dug to take the bodies of those who died.
The attack on the ground was coordinated with an aerial attack by fighter-bomber planes. There had been only twelve FRELIMO soldiers in Mapai at the time. Nine of them escaped and harassed the thirty or forty attacking troops with automatic weapon fire. They claimed to have killed four of the raiders, but the bodies were removed by helicopters.
Exactly a week after the raid on Mapai, about a hundred thousand people demonstrated in the capital of Mozambique Maputo, against the Rhodesian attacks. People marched from all parts of the city to hear President Samora Machel address the rally. Like other members of his Government who were on the platform, he was dressed in military battle dress.
Several people who had been wounded in the raids were brought to the platform to show their wounds and tell their stories. During a ninety minute speech, President Machel said that Rhodesian Prime Minister, Ian Smith, had often asked his Government to go to Salisbury for talks. The President said that the invitation had now been accepted, but now they would go to Salisbury in their own time.
Representatives of various Mozambique organisations read messages to the President, repeatedly asking him to allow the people to enter Rhodesia to overthrow Mr. Smith. When the President asked who would volunteer to take up arms to fight against Mr. Smith, the entire audience raised their hands and cheered and shouted their willingness.