The Sunday Mail
THE Second Republic is paying tribute to heroes of the liberation struggle by growing the economy and progress made on economic development should not be sacrificed on account of narrow interests, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Speaking at the burial of national hero and freedom fighter, Cde Wereki Sandiyani, whose Chimurenga name was Cde Gabela, at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the Government will continue to honour and recognise liberation war veterans by upholding the heritage of bravery and fortitude to foster development and prosperity in the country.
He said the ongoing economic strides as well as peace and unity brought by liberation heroes must be honoured by remaining focused on economic growth.
“In spite of the cruel and brutal ordeals that Cde Gabela and many others suffered at the hands of the racist white colonial regime, he never weakened his resolve or betrayed the cause of 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.
“In their honour and leveraging on our vast resource endowments, let us never give in to the challenges that we may face. We must continue to define and shape the political and socio-economic development of our great country as a truly free and independent people, always acting in the interests of the majority of the people.
“The prevailing national peace, unity and 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 was brutally tortured and amputated with a meat-cutting saw by the Rhodesian forces at the age of 20, leading to the deterioration of his health over the years.
President Mnangagwa said the injuries and wounds of liberation heroes are stark reminders of the country’s independence and democracy, which should be guarded jealously.
“There are many like him in our midst, heroes who quietly live in modest anonymity, with bullets and fragments still lodged in their bodies,” the President said.
“My Government, under the Second Republic, shall never forget them, but will always grant the respect, honour and recognition they truly deserve and are worthy of. Their deaths, injuries, wounds and torture marks remind us that our independence and democracy is hard won and precious.
“Let us defend and guard it jealously. The late national hero, alongside other fearless and gallant sons and daughters of our country, overcame their challenges, and handed down to us and future generations an independent and sovereign Zimbabwe.”
President Mnangagwa said the nation should ride on the late heroes’ efforts and remain focused on building a prosperous Zimbabwe.
“The late national hero, alongside other fearless and gallant sons of our country, overcame their challenges and handed down to us and future generations an independent and sovereign Zimbabwe.
“Riding on their revered efforts, let us remain unwavering, unflinching and focused as we build our great country stone upon stone, brick upon brick towards a Zimbabwe we all want.”
The President said Cde Sandiyani was a pioneer of the second phase of the liberation struggle and part of the rare crop of fighters who opened up new fronts for the Second Chimurenga.
“Only a handful of his peers still survive to this day. It is important, therefore, that we document their experiences for posterity to inform and motivate future generations. These freedom fighters faced and dodged many life threatening situations for us all to enjoy the freedom and democracy we have today.”
Cde Sandiyani died on September 25 at Mt Darwin Hospital after a long illness.
Born on June 2, 1955 in Mt Darwin district, he did his primary education at Dotito Primary and moved to Mavuradonha High School for his secondary education.
In 1973, he joined the liberation struggle through Zambia before proceeding to Tanzania for his military training alongside Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, the late national heroes Cde Perrance Shiri and Michael “Cde Vhuu” Chakabva.
After successful completion of training, he proceeded to Mozambique and in 1974 was dispatched to Madziva, Kanengoni village with seven other liberation war fighters.
The area came under heavy attack from the Rhodesian forces, but he survived and was later deployed to Ruwane area.
Cde Sandiyani was again attacked and sustained an injury to his right leg, but managed to escape and was taken to Zambia for treatment.
In 1975, upon entering Zimbabwe, he encountered a fierce battle, resulting in shots and injuries to his legs. He was captured by the Rhodesian forces and tortured, resulting in the loss of both legs.
The Rhodesian forces then paraded him to the public while he was still bleeding to deter would-be recruits from joining the liberation struggle.
Cde Sandiyani was transferred to Bindura hospital for treatment before he was sent to Rhodesia prison where he awaited trial.
Initially he was sentenced to death. He appealed the sentence, but was denied. His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment due to his young age and status as an amputee being the migratory factors.
After Independence, he was granted Amnesty and went to Goromomzi Assembly. He later went to Mt Darwin where he became a political instructor at the National Youth Service at Border Gezi.
He retired early due to poor health emanating from war injuries.
Cde Sandiyani participated in the Third Chimurenga and in 2000 was resettled at Plot 26, Ruya Range Farm in Mt Darwin district.
Speaking at the burial, family spokesperson, Mr Prince Mahemu, described the late national hero as a hard worker who had a burning desire to see the country develop.
“He was a hard worker and wanted to help build his country despite being a person with a disability,” he said.
“He endured pain during the liberation struggle and after Independence he continued working for his country and community.”
Cde Sandiyani is survived by two wives, seven children and 19 grandchildren.