Mtoko is situated 56 km north east of Mrewa on the main road from Salisbury to Tete in Mozambique and onwards to Malawi. The major tribal areas are Mtoko TTL, Chimoyo TTL and Budjga African Purchase Area. The south of the district consisted of European farming area which produced tobacco and other mixed farming. The village of Mtoko consisted of a few houses, a small hotel, a Police Station, The DC’s Office, a garage, a general dealer’s store and an airfield nearby. Electricity was eventually laid on in Mtoko in the mid 1970s.
DCs Station Mtoko
Mtoko is of strategic importance as it is considered the gateway to the north via Mozambique and is a staging post for heavy vehicles that travel to Malawi and even further north. The war put a temporary stop to these activities eventually. The remote areas and the inhospitable terrain consisting of granite kopjies and thick bush as well as rivers which flowed through the district (Nyadiri River) made it an ideal infiltration route and staging area for the enemy who had safe bases within close by Mozambique.
Nyadiri River, Charewa
As the war escalated a JOC was built at the airfield. It was home to a Fire Force unit consisting of a Dakota and Alouette III helicopters. D Company RAR was generally always deployed as the Fire Force. The enemy had divided the border areas into corridors through which they infiltrated into Rhodesia from Mozambique and Zambia. The sector that was used for the Mtoko area was known as the Takawira Sector. To the north of Mtoko was Mount Darwin and Centenary Districts and their infiltration sector was known as Chaminuka Sector. Some terrorists moved through this sector into Mrewa District which was situated to the west of Mtoko where the Nyadiri River formed the natural boundary between the two districts.
Chieftainess Charewa ruled over the northern area of Mtoko and it was this area that saw the first enemy actions. Thereafter they moved further inland to the Chimoyo area. The first keep was built at Charewa and the next one was constructed in Chimoyo. The anti tank land mine threat became a serious problem as civilian and government vehicles detonated several of them. All public transport stopped operating and the locals had to either walk or take a chance in private vehicles to get to Mtoko and on to Salisbury.
Some of the staff members over the years
Frank Taylor DC
John Saunders DC
Rob Boell ADC
Dave Rosenhahn ADC
Dudley Wall SDO
Stan Fourie Cadet
Dave Ford Agric Officer
Mr Lombard LDO
Mr van Heeerden LDO
Phillip and Beryl Clarke Pay Officers / Accountants
Charewa Keep aka Fort Desolation
Foot patrol in Charewa TTL
Mr Lombard inspecting the Matambanadzo bus that detonated an anti tank mine. Several civilians were killed in the incident.
Dudley Wall's first (of three) anti tank land mine incident which occurred on the road from Mtoko to Chimoyo TTL
DC John Saunders and the Station Sergeant Major examining Mr Lombards Land Rover after he detonated an anti tank land mine on the Chimoyo TTL road
The photograph below was taken when President du Pont visited Mtoko in 1975 and is accompanied by a press statement of the Presidents visit to Mashonaland East. If you identify yourself (or know of the national servicemen) in the photo would you please make contact. It will be much appreciated.