Trouble at the Pungwe
In July 1975 Intaf Mtoko Reaction Unit (platoon strength) - callsign 46 Tango, deployed to the Kawazwa area of Mtoko to conduct foot and vehicle patrols as part of the on-going area domination tactics used to prevent terrorist incursions. Villages were regularly visited and every other day the Tac HQ was moved for security reasons. In this manner the unit dominated the area and prevented guerrilla activity from taking place. Devious movement and implementation of our own security measures was the key. One day the District Officer in charge of the unit had a premonition of the presence of a group of terrorists operating in the area and instructed one of the most capable men in the unit, George Muzinda, an ex RAR soldier, to get into his civvies and deploy by bicycle to a business centre a few kilometres to the south of their temporary base to do a recce.
George was tasked to determine the attitude of the local people and to try and find out if there was an enemy presence as suspected. George duly set off and the commander waited patiently for him to return. This did not happen! George rode casually into the business centre and straight into a pungwe being held by a group of about eight armed terrorists. They were immediately suspicious of him and pulled him off his bicycle. He was accused of being a traitor and a spy and then the gang proceeded to bayonet him with their fluted bayonets attached to AK 47s and SKS rifles.
George rolled around on the ground with blood oozing from the wounds suffered at the hands of the terrorists. He realised he was in grave danger and his survival instincts and a bit of good training kicked in. After being punctured several times he feigned death and was left as such. The meeting dispersed and George managed to crawl off into some nearby bushes. Shortly afterwards a civvie rendered George assistance and got him to his hut at great danger to himself and his family. In the mean while a second civvie had reported to the unit commander that one of their men had been attacked and was wounded, but had managed to escape.
The commander called in an Air Force Allouette III helicopter to do a search. As it circled the area looking for the terrorists and for George, the villager who had helped George sent word of his whereabouts and the commander then directed the helicopter to the place so that George could be casevacced. George did survive the day and was promoted to lance corporal for his troubles. He certainly showed a lot of initiative and self-discipline, not to mention common sense and guts. George Muzinda was eventually awarded the Badge of Honour for this incident in 1977. George's photo appears on the first page of the website holding his trusty FN.
46 Tango was the only security force unit to have been in the area for some considerable time. The remoteness was great.
Corporal George Muzinda in uniform sitting with other recipients at the Medal Parade at Mrewa where he received his Badge of Honour.
Pungwe is a Shona term for a political orientated meeting with the local villagers. It is designed to build support for the cause.