The Provincial Government together with the Department of Military Veterans held a commemoration of the Limpopo and Mutale River Valleys war battles. The event was also in collaboration with the Umkhonto We Sizwe Liberation War Veterans. It was held at the Mutale River Island (Tshitangadzimeni), Musina Municipality in the Vhembe District.
The Limpopo and Mutale River Valleys war battles happened during the period between 1980 to 1990 by the well-trained Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) army.
During that period, and years earlier several Umkhonto we Sizwe combatants infiltrated South Africa through the borders of Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. But in the main through Zimbabwe to liberate South Africa. Several battles were fought, including the Battle of Mutale. Which was fought over 24 hours along the Mutale River near the Pafuri Gate of the Kruger National Park.
On the morning of 28 March 1988, a battle ensued between the then Venda Defense Force (VDF) and the nine-person MK unit at the Mutale River on a little island ( Tshitangadzimeni). The VDF called for reinforcements from the South African Defense Force (SADF) and helicopter gunships were deployed. Which ended in the demise of 5 of the nine MK guerrillas and several from the Defense forces. Three of the MK survivors include Duma Mlambo, James Sekgale and Thabo Dube.
The event was attended by amongst others, ambassadors and envoys from Cuba, Bryan Brito Tanzania, Major general Salimu Milanzi Tanzania High Commission Zimbabwe Angola and Mozambique. As well as current and former leaders of both the government and the ANC.
THE PROVINCE COMMEMORATES FALLEN MILITARY VETERANS
MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture Nakedi Sibanda-Kekana gave a keynote address.
“We are glad that besides the special training these young men received from Cuba, Angola, Russia and other countries. Some of those who debriefed them are here today. We send special thanks to South African national Defence retired colonel Mashudu Masindi who was part of the MK machinery in Zambia and Zimbabwe at the time. He is also here with us today,” she said.
“We are aware of the many challenges these military veterans face today. Our freedoms were not as free as some of us think. Sweat and blood, torture and incarceration were the order of the day. The Department of Military Veterans has to move with speed with the incentives that are owed to these heroes.”