30 years ago today
On the night of June 23, 1978, Elim Mission in the Rhodesian Eastern Highlands was subjected to the worst massacre of missionaries yet experienced. Terry Blocksidge reported in the Sunday Mail (Salisbury):
Eight British missionaries and four young children - including a three-week-old baby - were bayoneted to death by terrorists on Rhodesia's Eastern border on Friday night in the worst massacre of whites since the six-year-old war began.
Three of the missionaries were men and the others women.
A sixth woman was stabbed and beaten and left for dead. She staggered 300 m into the freezing Vumba bush to spend the night before being found semi-conscious by security forces yesterday. Despite intensive care in a Salisbury hospital she subsequently died.
The gruesome murders, by a group of eight to 10 terrorists, happened at Emmanuel Mission School - 15 km south-east of Umtali and 8 km from the Mozambique border - once used as the Eagle boarding school.
The dead, who belonged to the Elim Pentecostal Church, were:
* Mr. Peter McCann (30), his wife, Sandra (also 30), son Phillip (six) and daughter Joy (five).
* The Rev. Phillip Evans (29), his wife, Suzan (35), and their daughter Rebecca (four).
* Mr. Roy Lynn (37), his wife, Joyce (36), and their daughter Pamela Grace. She would have been three weeks old yester- day.
* Catherine Picken (55) and Elizabeth Wendy Hamilton- White (37).
* Miss Mary Fisher (28).
Most of the women had been sexually assaulted, and one mutilated.
The children had been dragged from their beds. Two children were in yellow pyjamas, one with a red dressing gown, and a third in a flowery nightdress.
One child had her tiny thumbs clenched in her palms.
Even hardened security men were stunned by the bloody scene and stood around silently. "The quiet is uncanny", said one.
Mr. Brian Chapman, director of the Church in Rhodesia and South Africa, visited the scene yesterday. He said: "We saw no humanity here."
The massacre began shortly before 8.30 p.m. when the white families were forced by the terrorists from their homes and classrooms, and marched to a playing field.
Near the sports pavilion, about 400 m from the main school, they were split into groups, then beaten with lengths of wood and logs, and stabbed.
When security forces reached the scene yesterday, the full horror on the cold, mist-and-rain shrouded Vumba mountainside confronted them:
A mother, beaten to death, lay with her young baby. The baby had also been savagely beaten.
Their arms stretched out to each other, their hands resting an inch apart. The child's hand was clenched.
The mother had a hand squeezed tightly around her engagement ring, turned into her palm, as she reached for her baby in her dying moments.
Nearby, another woman had died from an axe-wound - the weapon still protruded from her shoulder - and two men, one with his hands tied behind his back, lay beaten and slashed to death.
A blood-soaked chunk of wood had been dropped near to them.
Three children lay in a pitiful huddle, with two women's bodies next to them.
Some had raised their arms to defend themselves from the brutal blows.
Mr. Young is asked:
"Does Mr. Mugabe strike you as a violent man?"
"Not at all, he's a very gentle man. In fact, one of the ironies of the whole struggle is that I can't imagine Joshua Nkomo, or Robert Mugabe, ever pulling the trigger on a gun to kill anyone. I doubt that they ever have.... The violent people are Smith's people and hopefully they won't be around for the new Zimbabwe."
This weekend, when local and international journalists arrived at the scene of the massacre 15 km from Umtali and less than 7 km from the Mozambique border, the mutilated and blood-stained bodies of three men, four women and five children - including a three-week-old baby - were lying as they had been found that morning.
Mr. Young is asked how he gets on with Mr. Mugabe.
He replies: "I find that I am fascinated by his intelligence, by his dedication. The only thing that frustrates me about Robert Mugabe is that he is so damned incorruptible.... The problem is he was educated by the Jesuits, and when you get the combination of a Jesuit and a Marxist kind of philosophy merging in one person, you've got a hell of a guy to deal with."