By Tendai Mugabe
President Mnangagwa has for the first time opened up on circumstances surrounding his 1964 arrest after bombing the Rhodesian steam locomotive in Fort Victoria (now Masvingo), revealing how he was forced to hold an explosive device during interrogation by security personnel from the Ian Smith regime.
The bomb almost took his life before it was thrown out through the window by one of his interrogators, making it the second incident involving dangerous explosives targeted on his life.
The Herald can also exclusively reveal that the President escaped castration by admitting that he was responsible for bombing the Rhodesian train.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Herald, President Mnangagwa said he was the only surviving member of the famous Crocodile Gang which gave the colonial regime sleepless nights after the Fort Victoria bombing.
“After I was arrested, I was taken to Harare Central Prison,” said President Mnangagwa.
“On the western wing of that building, there is a small room which they (Smith regime) used to call butcher house A20. In that room there is a long steel bar stretching across the entire room with some round hooks like those used to hang meat in a butchery. Saka vanoisa table seapo voisa musoro wako pachair vokusimudza voisa maleg iron wopinda muhook muya voisa maleg iron rimwe gumbo futi uku vobvisa zvese izvi (clothes) musoro wako warembera pasi. Vokuratidza notebook itsva nepenzera itsva. Vanobva vati zvandichanyora umu zvinobva kwauri kusvika tazadza notebook. Saka wainzi bhuuu kuno uku woti rirrrrr uchienda uku kana waguma wonzi bhuu uchienda uku but you won’t last long. You go off vombokubvisa but you come back again. Vokubvunza unoda kudzokera here kunze kwenyika? Wakatrainer kuEgypyt iwewe nekuChina woti handizvizive vokudzorera futi.
“Then I don’t know what happened, nanhasi handizive. Pandakaita come round I was in a female cell. By that time there was a toilet which was flashed nemvura inobva panze. Saka vakadzi vaive vakasungwawo vaipiwa mvura panze vachidira saka pavakarova door amuka-amuka ndobva ndauya kuzotorwa zvikanzi we have failed but we have all the evidence that you trained in Egypt, you trained in China.
“So they took me to another room with an open window facing Rail Avenue, now called Kenneth Kaunda. There were five white men called Inspector Beans, Brad Show and Smith. I can’t remember the names of the other two.
“In that room, they took a TNT explosive and a fuse and pinned them with a blasting cable. When you lit that it would explode within a matter of minutes and because I did engineering in China I knew that if it blasts we were all going to die.
They wanted to test if I was trained militarily so they asked me to hold that explosive while standing at the window and ordinarily a trained person was bound to throw it away through the window before it explodes.
“Saka vakabva vatungidza ndikati haa pano apo nhasi tinoenda tese asi uku ndichibuda hangu dikita. Pachakangoti fuuu one of them jumped and grab the bomb and threw it through the window and it exploded outside. He said this guy is innocent if he was a trained person he would have thrown the explosive away. Ndakabva ndaona kuti ndapasa pano.”
“They undressed me and asked me to sit on a bench where they had placed a burdizzo castrator. I looked at it and the moment they attempted to castrate me I said no, no, let me tell you the truth. I am the one who bombed the steam locomotive and I was also trained in China and Egypt. They said that is enough to hang you and they took me to remand.”
Full story to be serialised in The Saturday Herald.