Sixteen African men, women and children were killed on a white-owned Rhodesian farm on Saturday (20 August) when a gang of black nationalist guerrillas attacked the farm labourers' compound.
Sixteen African men, women and children were killed on a white-owned Rhodesian farm on Saturday (20 August) when a gang of black nationalist guerrillas attacked the farm labourers' compound. Most of the victims were said to have died in a hail of gunfire. Three were said to have been trapped inside their huts and burned alive after the raiders had set fire to every hut in the compound. Ten other African workers were injured in the attack.
Authorities believes attacks of this kind are aimed at terrorising African farm workers into fleeing, leaving farms weaker against attack and making it more difficult, if not impossible, for farmers to work them. Official sources say these deaths at Umtali have brought the total of African civilians killed in the guerrilla war to more than 1,800.
SYNOPSIS: Police said afterwards that twelve men and women and two children were killed on the farm. Two died later in hospital. The attack took place on Mr. Marius Sleigh's farm, 17 miles (27 kilometres) north of Umtali on the Mozambique border. A resident policeman described events:
The attack had begun during the workers' Saturday night party. Mr. Sleigh and his family exchanged shots with the terrorists.
The attack was one of the bloodiest incidents of its kind in Rhodesia's five-year guerrilla war. It came exactly one month after Rhodesia's military headquarters announced that 23 African villagers had been herded into a kraal and burnt to death by guerrillas. Ironically, work was almost complete on a security fence at the farm that would have kept the terrorists out.