Rhodesia - Intaf

Callsign - Lighthouse

Women of Intaf

Women played a vital role in the administration of the country and served in various capacities.  They can be divided into the following categories


Staff at Central Registry in Salisbury.  Several women ran the Central Registry in Salisbury.  They were responsible for the issue of passports as well as maintaining the central database of births, deaths and marriages for the country.


Secretarial staff at Head Office, PCs Offices and DCs Offices.  Secretarial staff were responsible for admin work such as typing, filing and taking minutes of meetings.


District Administration Staff.  Women began to join INTAF in the mid 1970s as cadet District Officers and were deployed to DCs stations as were their male counterparts.  These women included -

Marietta Rosendaal who served in Rusape. Anna Vasilatos who attended the Shona language course held at Chikurubi in July 1975. Information indicates that she was stationed at Market Square Salisbury.

Barbara Collins (Sister of Jimmy Collins also of Intaf.).  Several years ago Barbara organised an Intaf reunion at Golden Gate in the Free State, South Africa. Barbara appears to have been briefly stationed at Mudzi shortly after its completion. She was on a law course held at Chiredzi possibly during 1976.


Heather Smith was a Cadet DO at Gwelo and Sinoia ( DC's Parker and Fynes-Clinton respectively ) for the year of 1975.  Heather left to attend university, after which she joined the Army and was commissioned as an officer.


The first woman to reach the rank of Assistant District Commissioner was Debbie Enslin.  Her promotion was an important milestone in the growth of Intaf.


New Info received from Nicola Collins has been received and is appropriately inserted here.  Her story as a member of the District Administration is a very important one and is quoted verbatim in an effort to honour all the women of Intaf who were in this vital role.


As one of the first girls to be recruited into Intaf as a cadet my first post was to Melsetter in 1974. The PC at the time George Barlow and my DC was James Peters better known as Hamish, his wife Sally and their children.
ADC - Jaap Meyer and family.
Cadet - Gordon McIntyre who was also a very keen golfer.
Cadet - John Dodds RIP joined later in 1974.
Accountant - Dennis Revell and his wife Dot - DC's secretary.
Bill Collins (my father in law is turning 92 in Dec and lives in George SA ). Bill and his wife Sheila RIP took over from the Revells in 1974.
PDO - Major Des Desfountain ( a coffee farmer) and his wife Penny. Last known whereabouts Knysna SA. I relied on Major Des for firewood for the Rhodesian boiler, hot water was a necessity!
PDO / Irrigation Manager Nyanyadzi -Mr Cloete and his wife who looked after me so well when doing sub offices etc. I also recall being a polling officer at Nynanyadzi late 1974/75 - although I cannot recall what election this was, but I remember returning to Melsetter with the ballott boxes very late that night.
AHI Mike Bredenkamp.

BSAP Officer IC - Monty Friendship
PO Rob Percival - who married Petal Garside whose father owned the bakery.
Mrs T (Theuniseun ) owner of the local and very over priced general dealer, but I befriended her and she was good to me.

My salary at the time was $75 per month from which I initially paid board and lodging and ran a small car as I was so far from home. Being a very keen horsewoman I also had my horse. I later had to pay rent on a cottage, pay for water and buy gas for lighting and cooking although I could not afford much food and lived mostly on half a loaf of bread and a pint of milk!

The male cadets earned $105 per month, which disgruntled me as I was employed to do the same work as them, and they were housed in the cadets mess, which reduced their overheads somewhat.

During my time in Melsetter I sat the African Customs and Admin exams.

I vividly remember the sub office in Ngorma TTL and collecting either PAT or dip fees at the bottom Ngorima while being watched by the Frelimo patrolling the border. It was hardly any wonder that the collection was a few cents short and I remember having to pay in, which was a good lesson as I was never short again.

To reach the sub office we had to drive pass Ngorima Mission, where my beloved Alice grew up and she looked after me until we left for SA in 1980. I miss and think of her to this day.

1975 I was transferred to Buhera. Alice informed me that I could not go there on my own so she packed up and came with.

If I am not mistaken the PC at that time was Bob Cunliffe and John Roebuck was PC Midlands.
DC - Arnold Rudolph and his wife Trish who made me feel very welcome.
ADC - Jim Collins and his dog Butch - such a character.
Acting DO - Dave Olsen and Shash. Last heard of running a Kapenta fishing business in Kariba.
Cadet -Young Husband
Cadet - Larry Snyders
District Accountant- Don Web (ex army) and his wife Audrey - clerk.
Snr PDO- Fanie Du Preez RIP and wife
PDOs - Willie and Eddie Van Tonder and their wives June and Lyn.
PDO -Piet Fourie (RIP - killed in action in Buhera) and my friend Eunette.
Devuli Irrigation Scheme Manager - Mel Sparrow.

Last, but not least Sgt Aaron.

My duties in Buhera covered all aspects of the job from Council meeting to cattle sales, womans clubs etc.

Passed the law exams while in Buhera.

1976 I was transferred very briefly to Gatooma, the DC at the time was Tony Cozens.

1976 moved to QueQue, - PC Midlands was John Roebuck.
DC - Bob Menzies.
ADC - Jim Collins and dog Butch.
Snr DO - Arthur Dyer and his wife Lyn (Gooch) who are currently living in Verwood, UK and whom we see from time to time.
DO promoted to Snr DO myself as then Nicola Moss.
District Acct - Helen Viviers.
Marriage Registrar - Sandra Watts - understand that her and her husband moved back to the UK.
Firearms Officer - John Ashworth.
ADF Clerk Arnold Taylor - gave Butch biscuits at tea time!
Chief Clerk - May Nelson - what and who she didn't know was not worth knowing. She made our wedding cake.
Snr AO - Alex Young
AO - Dave Schuil
Typist - Judy Griffiths
PDO Piet Gerber, and family.
PDO Dorien Larson.
PDO Pat Moore
Sgt Major Vincent Chabalala.

During my time in Que Que my role changed with the times and while I still did marriages (to the amazement of the public a young woman to officiate) and held civil court etc I became more involved with Syac (Rob Gass and Paddy Haglethorn's baby) and in particular with the farming community. I worked closely with the Chairman of the Farmers Union Mr Cyril Tapson, who was a great and dedicated chairman. It was at one meeting where Cyril, Jim and others were present ( I should have learnt by this time to think carefully before I speak - still haven't) that I mentioned about electrifying the fences around the farm houses, needless to say I was laughed at as this was the most stupid ideas anyone had heard of ! Well, someone is now really wealthy as they ran with my idea and electric fences did eventually became the first line of defence for many homes instead of relying on the dedication of barking dogs.

Jim Collins and I were married by Bob Menzies in Que Que, 17th December 1977. Sgt Vincent presented us with a wooden bowl that I treasure and still use regularly. Jim's best man was Arthur Dyer and our wedding was held at his and Lyn's house. AO Alex Young drove me to my wedding in his white Peugeot. Later that day we heard about the death in action of friend and fellow Intaf member Rich Herd RIP.

Interestingly, as I had got married I was required to resign, my pension contributions were refunded and had to reapply to rejoin Intaf.

1978 - PC Dick Westcott
Jim was promoted to District Commissioner and we were transferred to Zaka. A "hairy"station where Intaf staff were involved in many ambushes and contacts. We lost some good DSAs RIP. One such incident that springs to mind was through a belly blast to the Puma.
ADC Ian Mullens
Cadet John Lewis - ambushed and wounded in Manubvu Business Centre.
Cadet Phil Petheram and dog (I can picture his dog, but the name escapes me)
District Accountant - Temp.
DC's secretary Margaret Wilcox who was later replaced by Miss Judith Harry.
PDO - Bob Wilcox
PDO - Chris Herbst, his wife Pat and their children.
PDO - Sid Mellett and wife.
DAs remembered : Sgt Major ? Sgt Maka, Sgt Chavaruka (instructor), "The Bishop" Cpl Mutobwe - he was a major character and yes a Bishop!
Sam, who provided endless cups of tea with a crashing open of the door, a salute with the right hand while balancing a tea tray with the left and "Good morning all peoples".

BSAP initially Insp Louis Jacobs then Geoff Cooper who was severely injured in action on the day we moved to Nuanetsi.
Snr PO - Dick Smart
PO - Jingles Engles
PO - Gary Wynn - Kukwenya
PO - Jim Coetsee - towards the end of our stay.

My duties were mainly administrative while here and listening to the radio of Jim and the DAs/DSAs being regularly ambushed while on patrol.

One Sunday evening all hell broke lose and we were under mortar attack. Our Ridgbacks, being the brave breed of dog they are, went berserk and despite all attempts I could not get them into the bunker. I also ran around the house trying to find the cat! After what seemed quite a time all fell silent. The next day we learnt that the army had lobbed the first mortar and our guys had returned fire. So we had a mini war between friendly forces!

All had been quiet down to bottom end of the district. when Jim felt it would be a good idea to get the admin back on the ground and to hold a sub office. Armed to the hilt we drove down in the security vehicles and with all the necessary clearances and security procedures carried out we arrived at the rest camp without incident. Jim then decided we should fly back to Zaka (I think we were to go on to Salsibury for the weekend). Ken Brown was the Intaf Pilot that day. We took off and I remember Jim urgently saying to Ken bank as we started to fly over a terr base, with that a hail of bullets started raining upwards, a most precarious and helpless position to be in. By the grace of God Jim and I are still here to tell the tale, but the plane was grounded owing to the damage caused close to the main wing strut and from memory Ken Brown resigned after this.

1979 we were transferred to Nuanetsi. PC Dick Westcott was superceded by Bob Menzies.
DC Jiim Collins.
Snr DO and 2nd in charge was myself
Acting DO - Steve Van Stratten and dog Mujiba and butler (not cook).
Dist Acct - Charles Stark and Mrs Stark - clerk.
Later Snr Execuive Officer Sharingo was attached to Charles Stark. I understand that Sharingo later became the District Administrator Nuanetsi??
PDO - Dave Mienie
AHI - Boytjie Bosman and his wife Vivien - Boytjie was later replaced by Mike Clark.
BSAP - OIC - Brian Meekin
SO - Alistair McIntyre
PO - Guy ?

Chairman ACC Bob Van der Sande
Member - Priester Smit.

The farming community were endlessly attacked and this led to Jim forming the Farm Militia, who were trained by Sgt Chavaruka from Zaka. Without going into detail this unit, like the Dip Guards, another unit formed by Jim while in Que Que, were successful.

We were mortared again, and again it was friendly forces although at the dead of night it does not sound so friendly!

During this time that I got to use the DC's security (scrambled) phone for the first time to inform PC Bob Menzies that DC Jim Collins and other staff members had been blown up in a landmine incident while travelling through Miranda TTL, and at the time I could not confirm casualties or deaths. Again, by the Grace of God, and being strapped into the Cougar all staff members survived without injury. Although I think the ears are now reminding Jim of this.

By this time I was a rather stroppy Snr DO, and still can be as I haven't mellowed much. I really did not like the army trying their bullying tactics especially around he time of the elections. Needless to say a number of officers got the sharp edge of my tongue.

These elections, very sadly, led to the end of a career that I loved and was the best I have had. I think back with pride and sadness at what was, what we achieved in very trying times and perhaps what could have been. Jim and I handed in our notices when Mugabe came to power and we left for SA in 1980 leaving behind my friend Alice who looked after us so well, great friends and colleagues, and I hope that some day our paths may cross again.

Community Development Advisors (Women).   This organisation was in the charge of Miss W.D. Wilson and deployed many women in the field.  Their responsibility was to give advice and to guide the women of the rural areas in a variety of matters including childcare, health and social matters and general family matters such as family planning.  The general health and well being of the family was considered to be very important and the Community Advisors worked throughout the country in the districts to improve standards.  When the bush war developed their work became more difficult as they were often subjected to intimidation from the enemy and their mujibas, to the detriment of the well being of the people.


 Penny Ross Intaf Head Office - Ruth Baker Matabeleland South - Brigitte de Chalain Victoria Province


In 1967 the first carefully selected group of fifteen women were trained as Women Advisers Fort Victoria to study project planning, how to work with people, tribal structure, outline of Government, communication, community development, club management, nutrition, skills and other related subjects.  Thereafter a  distinctive uniform of green and white checked dresses and hats was chosen, a uniform which over the following years became a symbol of women's progress.


 Mrs Alice Mafkidze, Woman Adviser at Karoi, advising some of the women of her area.

 In 1970 the first Provincial Community Development Officers (Women) were appointed.   This was expanded to include a Provincial Officer from the section on the staff of each Provincial Commissioner of the Ministry and also included 148 Women Advisers throughout the country who were members of staff of District Commissioners.

The greatest achievement is the acceptance of what it stands for - self-help.  All over the country self-help projects came into being as rural communities began to accept responsibility for their own development and the individual accepted her responsibility to pass on newly acquired knowledge and to work for the community as a whole.   


 Chief Sipiso and wife with Woman Adviser Mrs. Lady Dube of Tjolotjo








Norah Chitekwe, one of the Women Advisors based at Mtoko. 


















Chief Charumbira and Miss Brigette de Chalain, Provincial Officer for Victoria















Women Advisors and the Air Wing 





The Wives.  The wives of staff stationed in the districts and at Head Office. 


Jean Bowen – Davis was the wife of “Fats” Bowen Davis who was a Provincial Commissioner, then Deputy Director and finally was head of ADF.  The family had been stationed in a variety of districts including Gutu, Zaka, Chibi, Nuanetsi, Que Que, Marandellas, Mount Darwin , Goromonzi, Wedza and Salisbury Head Office for the last 10 years.

In the second half of the 1970s Jean became very involved supporting  the Intaf men who were sent the keeps and protected villages.  A committee with Winsome Hunt as the Chairlady was formed and Jean served on this as the treasurer and organizer of a working committee which met at her house. 

Mrs Winsome Hunt MSM, Chairlady of the Committee  (Photo from daughter Roz Foster - copyright belongs to her.)


Mrs Winsome Hunt MSM handing out goodies to some DAs. (Photo from daughter Roz Foster - copyright belongs to her.)

Mrs Winsome Hunt MSM talking to some DAs at one of the keeps. (Photo from daughter Roz Foster - copyright belongs to her.)

The committee ordered fresh food - bread, cheese, milk, fruit and veggies as well as books and magazines to be sent to the keeps.  Each week jean also oversaw the cooking of biscuits for the keeps.   Requirements for such support were forwarded by radio and parcels were packed and delivered by road and by air. 

The scheme was operated from two prefabricated sheds which had several deep freezes in them that had been donated by well-wishers and was funded by donations and fund raising which was largely done by the committee.  Often the committee flew in the Air Wing aircraft to the various keeps to see for themselves where their hard work was assisting Intaf personnel in the field.  Several ladies worked at Jean’s house a full morning every week without fail and very few of them had anything to do with Internal Affairs.  Some were very elderly.  There was never any fuss.  They got no recognition except thanks and the appreciation of the men from the Keeps.  Jean was awarded the MSM for her efforts in keeping the morale of the men in the field as high as it was. 

Jean Bowen - Davis, one of the unsung heros of the Intaf war effort