National Hero Sandiyani laid to rest

by | Oct 2, 2021 | Local News | 0 comments


Nevanji Munyaradzi Chiondegwa


The nation was plunged into mourning on 25 September when news filtered in that Cde Wereki Sandiyani whose nom-de-guerre was Cde Phillimon Gabhela had died.


Cde Sandinayi was today laid to rest among his peers at the national shrine.


Speaking during his burial President Emmerson Mnangagwa described the late hero as a pioneer of the liberation struggle.


“On behalf of the ruling ZANU PF Party. Government and on my own behalf, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the Sandiyani Family on the passing on of a veteran freedom fighter and pioneer of our Armed Liberation Struggle, Cde Wereki Sandiyani”, the President said.


President Mnangagwa extended his profound condolences to Cde. Sandiyani’s spouses, children and grandchildren who have lost a pillar of strength, father and grandfather.


Hailing from Mazuri village under Chief Dotito, Cde Sandiyani did his Primary education at Dotito Primary School before moving to Mavuradonha High School for his secondary school. By the time he completed his education and started working in Harare, the overall military offensive against the brutal settler regime was gaining momentum.


“Hence in 1973, Cde Sandiyani joined the liberation struggle through Zambia, before proceeding for military training in Tanzania. Cde Phillimon Gabhella, as he became to be known received military training alongside the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Hon. General (Rtd) Dr C.D.G.N. Chiwenga, and the late National Heroes, Comrades Perrance Shiri and Michael “Cde Vhuu” Chakabva,” said President Mnangagwa.


When he completed his military training, he proceeded to Binda Base, in Mozambique, a base shared with the FRELIMO. He later relocated to Teresera Base where assisted by FRELIMO comrades, they crossed the Zambezi River and infiltrated Kaitano area and laid durable groundwork for the protracted armed struggle.


On the issue of the war and historical records, President Mnangagwa said, “The man we gather to lay to rest is thus not just a pioneer of the second phase of our Liberation Struggle, he is a remnant of that rare crop of fighters who opened up new fronts for our struggle. Only a handful of his peers still survive this day. It is important, therefore, that we document their experience for posterity to inform and motivate future generations. These freedom fighters faced and dodged many life threatening situations for us to enjoy the democracy and freedom we have today.”


Cde Sandiyani saw action in Madziwa area were together with seven others, came under heavy fire from Rhodesian forces in Kanengoni Village. Though he escaped, some of his compatriots were injured. He was later deployed to Ruwane area were again his group came under heavy Rhodesian fire leading to him being injured in the leg and being taken to Lusaka for treatment.


He was redeployed in 1975, now as a Sector Commander. Upon his entry into Zimbabwe, he encountered a fierce battle, resulting in shots and injuries to his legs. He was captured and taken to Jock Mutoko military camp for interrogation. He experienced brutal torture which saw his leg amputated with a meat cutting saw and paraded in public while still bleeding to dissuade other blacks from joining the liberation struggle.


President Mnangagwa recounted the bravery of the living and departed cadres saying, “In spite of the cruel and brutal ordeals that Cde Ghabella and many others suffered at the hands of the racist white settler colonial regime, he never weakened his resolve or betrayed the revolution. Let us never forget that our veterans of the liberation struggle, both living and departed, as well as unarmed innocent civilians suffered, sacrificed and shed blood so that we become the nation we are today.”


President Mnangagwa further said, “We must continue to define and shape our great country as a truly free and independent people, always acting in the national interests of the majority of our people. The prevailing peace, unity an harmony, as well as the economic strides we are making must never be sacrificed on the altar of narrow, blinkered and treacherous behaviour against our mother country.”


Cde Sandiyani who, after his brutal torture was transferred to Bindura Hospital for treatment as a prisoner of war was then moved to Harare Remand Prison and sentenced to death. He appealed against the death sentence which was granted on the second round of appeal on account of his age and injuries bur was commuted to life in prison. He was only released during the amnesty in 1980.


He served the country as a Political Orientation Instructor in the then Ministry of Youth but retired on medical grounds. He was resettled at Ruya Range in 2000. on 13 August 2014 along with 20 others, he was accorded a medal for dedicated leadership and unflinching allegiance to Zimbabwe.


Cde Sandiyani died at Mt Darwin District Hospital, robbing the nation of yet another principled patriotic son of the soil.