Sandiyani national hero, burial today

The Herald

Joseph Madzimure Senior Reporter

National hero Cde Wereki Sandiyani, whose Chimurenga name was Philemon Gabela, will be buried today at the National Heroes Acre in strict adherence to Covid-19 Level 2 protocols.

President Mnangagwa is expected to preside over the burial.

Cde Sandiyani, who was 66, was among the pioneers of Zimbabwe’s liberation war struggle. 

He died on September 26.

The national hero was born on June 5, 1955 at Mazuri Village under chief Dotito in Mt Mount Darwin.

In an interview yesterday, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kezembe said burial proceedings would start at 9.30am.

“He is going to be buried at the National Shrine. We expect mourners to be guided by Covid-19 Level 2 guidelines. The pandemic is still with us. We urge people to observe the World Health Organisation guidelines,” said Minister Kazembe.

The national hero did his primary education at Dotito Primary School and his secondary education at Mavhuradonha High School after which he went to work in Harare.

He went to Zambia to join the liberation struggle in January 1973, and stayed in Lusaka before going to Tanzania where he received training in guerrilla warfare at Mgagao Camp. 

Cde Sandiyani trained alongside revolutionary luminaries like Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, the late national heroes Cdes Chief Air Marshal Perrence Shiri, and Michael Chakabva (Vhuu).

After training, he went to Mozambique where he stayed at Binda Base, Taresera Base, before crossing the Zambezi to Kaitano area

In March 1974, he was deployed in Madziva area under Cde Clover Zviroto Mabhonzo and was later redeployed to Ruwane area where he got injured in a battle on his right leg, but managed to escape and was ferried to Zambia where he was treated at Lusaka Hospital.

After recovering, he was redeployed through Kazungula Border Post in 1975 as a sectorial commander and operated in Nehanda, Chaminuka and Takawira sectors.

He encountered the enemy in another fierce battle and was shot again on the right leg, leading to his capture by Rhodesian forces whereupon he was taken to Jock Mutoko Military Camp for interrogation. 

Cde Sandiyani was brutally tortured in the process and had both legs amputated by a butchery meat Cutter, inflicting excruciating pain.

Whilst still bleeding he was paraded to the public to induce fear and deter recruits from joining the liberation struggle.

Cde Sandiyani was referred to Bindura Hospital for treatment as a prisoner of war before being referred to Harare Prison pending trial. 

Upon initial trial, he was sentenced to death. He then appealed against the sentence and the appeal was turned down. 

He later made a second appeal which led to his death sentence being reduced to life imprisonment with his young age and status as an amputee being the mitigatory factors.

Cde Sandiyani was a fearless combatant who never hesitated to engage the enemy head-on.

He survived the harsh prison environment and only tasted freedom after independence in an amnesty granted by the then President, the late Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe. He was released and went to Goromonzi Assembly Point where he met his fellow heroic comrades.

He went back to Mount Darwin where he continued to work as a member of the revolutionary Zanu PF and held several political positions in the party structures.

He was then appointed a Political Instructor at the National Youth Service at Border Gezi where he went on early retirement due to poor health resulting from his war time injuries.

As a true freedom fighter he participated in the 3rd Chimurenga and in 2000 he was resettled at Plot 26 of Ruya Range Farm in Mt Darwin District.

He was also a hardworking member of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA).

The Herald