With the threat of terrorist attacks spreading to some of Rhodesia's main highways, motorists there are now obliged to travel in convoys under armed guard.
With the threat of terrorist attacks spreading to some of Rhodesia's main highways, motorists there are now obliged to travel in convoys under armed guard. This compulsory method of travel was instituted by the Rhodesian government following the Easter attack on the main road to Beitbridge and South Africa, in which three people were killed by terrorists.
On Monday (26 April) the Beitbridge road was still closed, and not even convoys were being allowed to use it. But convoys were being organised for travellers along the road south of Umtali near the border with Mozambique.
Easter, and the weeks following, are a favourite holiday period for Rhodesians and for South Africans visiting Rhodesia. The rainy season has ended, the sunshine is constant, though not too hot, and the roads are full of holiday traffic.
But now the holiday-makers face a wait of up to two hours for a military escort to take them along the 44 mile (72 kms) stretch of road south of Umtali. The risk of travelling alone is considered too great and every driver, whatever his story, and however capable of self-defence he declares himself to be, is obliged to join the queue.
The convoys cannot be regarded as routine precautions. The Rhodesian government would not have agreed to them without good reason. Any measure which might discourage tourism, which is so important to Rhodesia's beleaguered economy, would only be adopted with the utmost reluctance. It also presents an unwelcome strain on the country's army and police force, with more soldiers and their vehicles, and part-time police reservists deployed on convoy duty.
On Tuesday (27 April) the Rhodesian Police announced that two white police reservists had ben killed in a clash with nationalist guerillas in Rhodesia's south-eastern border area. The police statement said the men were killed while investigating "a known terrorist presence" in the south-east operational area.
Since the beginning of the year, 21 members of the Rhodesian security forces have been killed in the Mozambique border area, and 138 guerillas are reported to have died.