Keeps and Protected Villages
Studies of the British concept of protected villages in Malaya and of Portuguese "Aldeiamentos" in Mozambique and Angola were conducted. The decision to move the rural population into protected villages for their own safety was then adopted in 1972. This responsibility was given to Intaf. Taking into consideration the proximity of traditional homes, burial sites and crop planting suitable sites were identified and construction began. The first Protected Villages were constructed in the Mount Darwin district and from there, spread to other areas.
Each protected village included a tactically placed Keep. Defined in the Encyclopaedia Britannica as the place of last resort in case of siege or attack. It was either a single tower or a larger fortified enclosure. The Keep was the barracks for the members of Intaf who stayed in the village. Keeps varied slightly in shape and size and generally started off with the construction of earth walls with parapets and bunkers for defence purposes. Thereafter accommodation was built and comprised of either two or three prefabricated "A frame" type buildings in which the troops slept. One building was used as an HQ with a radio room and ops room.
Mudzi Keep - Typical "A" frame buildings
Once the security fences (often several kilometres long) had been placed around the village the locals then were moved in and they built their own huts on allocated sites. Protected bunkers were strategically placed on the perimeter so that patrols had places to obtain cover when they came under attack. A curfew was declared in most areas and gates were locked at sundown. Patrols were mounted throughout the village. The gates were unlocked at sun up and villagers then went to their fields to work or to go about their daily business. Stores sprang up and a new social order developed. Hygiene improved generally and water was laid on for the people.
Mudzi Keep 1974
The effect on the insurgents was that they were unable to get support from the people. However one must be realistic and understand that villages were infiltrated from time to time. Villagers threw food over the fences occasionally but this was generally curtailed by effective patrolling.
Nyakasoro Keep Mrewa
The villages were generally unpopular with the terrorists and came under regular attack. Many Intaf members were killed or wounded defending the people of the protected villages. In fact Intaf sustained the highest number of casualties within the security forces. This was due to the very nature of the tasks carried out.
Chimoyo Keep Mtoko
Mtoko Protected Village under construction
Fort Desolation aka Charewa Keep 1974
DC Dave Mirams at inspects terr damage, Chief Chitsungo's keep, Pfungwe TTL Mrewa
Inside a typical early Keep accommodation
Pachanza PV, Mount Darwin
Keep under construction
Keep under construction
Keep stand to!
Intaf were responsible for constructing and manning protected bases or sub offices throughout the operational area so that they could remain insitu on a permanent basis during the war. The following numbers of bases per province refer.
Mashonaland West. 14
Mashonaland Central. 18
Mashonaland East. 11
Matabeleland North. 10
Matabeleland South. 12
Victoria Province. 8
Number of Protected Villages in the country during the war.
Matabeleland South 7
Mashonaland Central 101
Mashonaland East 57
Victoria Province 22
Fort Misery from the air - Nembire, Mount Darwin 1974
Mukumbura PV No 1 Mount Darwin 1973. This aerial photo gives a good idea of the general size and composition of a PV.
A very comprehensive hand book was produced by Intaf for use by Keep Commanders. It contained much useful information including matters pertaining to military operations and training, tribal matters and a myriad of other subjects.
The pages on Operations Overload and Stronghold should be read in conjunction with this page.