Marandellas is situated 72 km south east of Salisbury on the main road and railway line that stretches from Salisbury to Umtali and on to Beira in Mozambique. The town first started as a staging post for the wagon and coach route between the two towns. As the country developed the railway line was constructed in 1898 and the Native Commissioner and the police moved from the original site of the village closer to the railway line. Marandellas began to grow. When the Rhodesian Field Force was mobilised for the Anglo Boer War the force was deployed to Marandellas for a while. Some graves of soldiers from the Field Force still remain.
Marandellas derived its name from the local chief Marondera and was an important centre for agricultural activities such as beef and dairy cattle, maize and deciduous fruit growing. It is the highest town above sea level in the country and its climate is temperate, allowing for such agricultural activities to take place. Light industrial activities included a brewery, saw mills, a pre fabricated wooden building factory, an abbatoir and a game skinning tannery. As the war developed the enemy deployed into the rural areas of Marandellas and commenced with a concerted effort to subvert the people of the area. They planted several landmines which were detonated by the security forces and civilians alike. Intaf established fortified base camps in the Tribal Trust Lands to allow its men to continue their task of looking after the people.
Photos above from Nick Baalbergen
Ian Paper served with Intaf at Marandellas as a Field Assistant and as a Primary Development Officer (PDO) for several years and this is his story.
Having served as a Field Assistant with Intaf for four years at Chibi working with DC Jim Latham, Rupert Goosen and Keith Bloore, I was transferred to Marandellas in early 1973. I was quite excited about being back in Marandellas as my junior education days were spent at Marandellas Boarding School situated opposite the old Native Commissioners Office. The new school was later called the Godfrey Huggins School and was situated near the Three Monkeys Inn. This was the closest school to Mtoko / Mrewa where my parents had settled and had been farmers since 1946/7.
Marandellas had two Tribal Trust Lands to manage. They were Chiota TTL situated to the south west and Soswe TTL to the south east of the town. Chiota was the larger of the two and was looked after by four Chiefs. The area was very open and flat with poor sandy soil. The southern area was controlled by Chief Nyandoro and the larger northern area was controlled by Chief Chiota. Soswe TTL was surrounded by white farmers and was well wooded with hilly ranges and rocky outcrops throughout. The soil was fertile and good for agricultureal activities.
My role as PDO for the two regions was to supervise and maintain all roads, bridges, cattle dipping services, boreholes, plan new projects using a budget allocated from the African Development Fund (ADF). Whilst most of the northern districts were experiencing terrorist activity Marandellas was quite peaceful. I had military committments with the 4th Battalion Rhodesia Regiment at the time but in 1976 Intaf became paramilitray and all its personnel were expected to do their National Service commitments with Intaf.
Soswe base camp (Photo from Ian Paper)
On patrol in Soswe TTL (Photo from Ian Paper)
In 1976 John Saunders, who was the DC for Mtoko was transferred to Marandellas. The outgoing DC, Brian Lucas was then transferred to Mtoko. No sooner had John Saunders arrived in Marandellas when the first major terrorist incident took place where Vedette N.R. Logan was ambushed by the enemy on his way back from one of the cattle dips, having supervised the dipping there for the day. At that specific time I was away on holiday and the news was quite a shock.
DC John Saunders and Chief Nyandoro (Photo from Ian Paper)
From this point onwards several dramatic steps were taken. All Intaf buildings were protected with sandbags and the soft skinned vehicles were replaced with armour protected ones. I received a mine protected Land Rover with anti blast plates and roll bars and was also given a radio for two way communication. All cattle dipping activities were phased out and Intaf personnel took on a more paramilitary role. Soswe base camp was manned by Vedettes John Davies and Fred Bezuidenhout and a team of DAs. I was deployed there to do the construction and built new sleeping quarters, mortar bunkers and put up security fences.
Vedette John Davies, PDO Ian Paper and Vedette Fred Bezuidenhout Soswe TTL. (Photo from Ian Paper)
Chiota TTL 1994. ADF grader in action obtaining gravel (Photo from Ian Paper)
The war eventually arrived in Chiota TTL, mainly in the southern region in the area ruled by Chief Nyandoro. Many locals fell victim to the actions of the enemy. A BSAP Support Unit (Mantle) Mounted Unit set up a base camp in the African Purchase Area (APA) and commenced operations quite successfully. Soon after arrival one of their vehicles with Mike Hollice on board detonated a landmine not far from Chief Nyandoros Kraal.
BSAP Support Unit vehicle that detonated a landmine near Chief Nyandoros Kraal. Mike Hollice to the right. (Photo from Ian Paper)
Two Intaf volunteers b y the names of Alan Pittaway and Dave Birch were stationed at Chiota base camp. They were responsible for the base camp and conducting patrols in the area. Two busses carrying locals detonated landmines on separate occasions on the same day in Chief Chiota's area to the north.
The two busses that detonated landmines in Chiota TTL. (Photos from Ian Paper)
On one specific day DC John Saunders had arranged a meeting with the local spirit medium. We were invited into the medium's hut but were told that we had to leave our rifles outside with one of our men. The atmosphere in the hut was quite eerie and we felt somewhat vulnerable without our weapons. (It must be said that the enemy made a concerted effort to get the mediums on their side because of the great influence they had in the community).
DC John Saunders arranging a meeting with a local spirit medium in Chiota TTL (Photo from Ian Paper)
Chiota Base Camp (Photo from Ian Paper)
Many incidents happened as time went by and if I remember correctly in July 1979 I was asked to take a team of DAs in the ADF truck which had been filled with sandbags for landmine protection, to Sipolilo to assist the DC of Sipolilo move the locals there into protected villages in the Mashumbi Pools area. It took the entire day to get from our area to Sipolilo to the DCs office. Once there we met up with teams from a number of other DCs stations. After camping the night we moved out early in the morning by convoy winding down the steep escarpment into the Zambezi Valley.
Despite the fact that we had a Pookie mine detection vehicle leading the convoy, one vehicle detonated a land mine and we came under small arms fire for a short while. The DAs debussed and took cover to return fire. The delay meant that we did not reach our destination so we camped along side the road for the next night. On arrival we tackled the job allocated to us and completed the moving of the locals into PVs over a period of two weeks. During this time there were no further incidents. I needed to return to Marandellas for another tasking and the DC Sipolilo arranged for me to be dropped off at the nearest airfield where My DA and I hitched a ride on a light aircraft filled with all sorts of equipment, to Sipolilo. From there I was asked to drive a Land Rover back to Salisbury, which I did. We then proceeded to Marandellas, arriving home safely.
It was a relief for my wife and two young sons as we were planning to move to Australia to start a new life there. I ended my career with Intaf in November and left Rhodesia on the 6th January 1980; the same day Robert Mugabe was destined to return to Rhodesia.
Staff at Marandellas over the years.
Cadet Nick Baalbergen
1973 - 1976
DC Brian Lucas
DO Andre Scholtz
CDO Debbie (1975 on and then promoted to DO in 1976. She married Barry Enslin in 1976 and was later promoted to SDO. As Deborah Enslin she was promoted to ADC in 1978.
CDO Simon Lucas
AO John Hardy
PDO Ian Paper
DC John Saunders
DO Barry Enslin
DO Peter Harvey
There are many other members who were stationed in Marandellas. If anybody has additions for the website, they will be gratefully received.