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Gwanda based war vet Nkomo awaits hero status

by Staff reporter
18 Sep 2022 at 16:51hrs | Views
THE first commander of the ZPRA women camp in Zambia, Mkushi during the armed struggle, Highten Khuluma Nkomo commonly known as Billy Mzamo who died on Wednesday at his homestead in Gwanda District suffered an asthmatic attack, his family has revealed.

Family spokesperson and younger brother of Nkomo, Mr Abel Samhembere said the veteran freedom fighter who was asthmatic had an attack at about 6am on Wednesday which led to his demise.

"He had asthmatic attack at around 6am when he was getting out of bed. His wife says he started shaking and stopped talking. Transport was then organised to take him from his homestead here in Dengu to Manama Mission Hospital which is about five kilometres away.

"However, he was pronounced dead on arrival. As for his burial we have sent his papers to the Zanu-PF provincial offices in Gwanda Town awaiting for him to be conferred with a hero status. We will decide on his burial after getting feedback from the party."

Nkomo was born of Zimbabwean immigrants on 12 January 1952 in Lusaka, Zambia. His father, a paternal cousin of the late Vice-President Dr Landa John Nkomo, had left their rural home in Tsholotsho District with his family to settle in Zambia.

Nkomo grew up in the Chief Mungule area and attended schools in Kapopo and Mutakwa which were under the Zambian Central Province. As someone with roots in the then Rhodesia Nkomo became interested in the Zimbabwean nationalist politics after coming across a lot of literature on the country's armed struggle. By then he was already active in the youth ranks of Kenneth Kaunda's party, UNIP.

While in Form One in 1967 he left home for the Zimbabwe House in Lusaka in a bid to join the armed struggle but his father, Abraham Nkomo was not happy because he wanted him to pursue education so he reported the matter to the Zambian police.

Nkomo's father, armed with a shot gun, also confronted Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo and a meeting was arranged at the Police Headquarters which was also attended by then Zambian Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Milner.

It was then decided that the then young Nkomo should go back home and continue with his education at a commercial college in Lusaka. However, the following year the determined Nkomo  disappeared again and that time  his father did not make a follow-up. He then hooked up with other recruits at Luthuli Camp which housed both ANC and Zapu people.

It was there that he met comrades such as Ben Stewart,  John Khanye, Stanley Gagisa, Cornelius, Busobenyoka, Base, Nzimande, Nzula, Tjalombwa and Eddie Sigoge. After some time they were moved to Chakwenga which was about 100km from Lusaka where the camp commander was Albert Nxele while now Brigadier-General (Rtd) Ambrose Mutinhiri was the chief of staff.  

From Chakwenga, Nkomo and his colleagues were moved to Morogoro in Tanzania and that was in 1969 where they were  joined by other recruits such as  Brigadier-General (Rtd) Abel Mazinyane, Enoch Tshangane (the late Major-General Jevan Maseko), late national hero Colonel (Rtd)  Masala Sibanda and  Brigadier-General (Rtd) Tjile Nleya.

After completing training at Morogoro Nkomo was sent for further training in the then Soviet Union where he specialised in military engineering. As a result of his military skills Nkomo quickly caught the eye of his senior commanders who deployed him as an instructor before being promoted camp commander first for Nampundwe and then Mkushi in 1978.

He is survived by his wife, three children, a daughter and two sons as well as a grandchild.

Mourners are gathered at his homestead in Dengu area, Gwanda District.

Source - The Sunday News