INTRODUCTION: Vast areas of Rhodesia are now effected by the guerrilla war against the white minority government of Rhodesian Prime Minister, Mr.
INTRODUCTION: Vast areas of Rhodesia are now effected by the guerrilla war against the white minority government of Rhodesian Prime Minister, Mr. Ian Smith. Near the borders with Mozambique and Zambia there are now extensive "no go" areas where Rhodesian security patrols are rare. Even around the township of Mtoko, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the Mozambique border, there have been a large number of incidents. Among those effected by the widening war are the people of the Mtemwa leper settlement near Mtoko.
SYNOPSIS: To reach the settlement visitors have to travel along dirt roads that are regularly mined by the guerrillas. Because leprosy is a contagious disease Mtemwa is located in an isolated position. It has no security fence. The main protection is the nature of the unpleasant disease which afflicts the 83 people living there.
The security forces say several mines have been planted close to the settlement recently. And local officials say that although supplies are getting through, transporting them to the settlement is getting more difficult. Officials are also worried that guerrillas looking for food or medicine might try and infiltrate the village.
Rations were given out by Mr. John Bradburne, who was formerly the warden of the settlement. Mr. Bradburne, a Roman Catholic lay missionary, has continued to live at Mtemwa even though he lost his warden's job four years ago. There's a close check on supplies. If guerrillas infiltrated the settlement, the lepers might have to be moved to a more secure area.
Mr. Bradburne, who's 55, says he intends to spend the rest of his life at the settlement. Since the guerrilla war intensified, restrictions have grown on movement around Mtemwa. For the lepers it has brought growing isolation. Mtemwa leper settlement was founded 40 years ago. Some of the residents have been there almost as long. The problems of the war have been explained to them but most say they don't want to move -- and they hope no one will make them.