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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 5. April 2 1968

The Two Faces of Murder in Rhodesia — Black and White

The Two Faces of Murder in Rhodesia
Black and White

African kills African—bad luck. African kills European —probably had it coming to him anyway, dirty mercenary! European kills African—international incident, the Pope, Harold Wilson and Mr. Kirk protest.

The above rather crude statement of opinion is a distillation of the impeccable logic with which the enemies of Rhodesia argue the ease against Mr. Ian Smith. The unfortunate Mr. Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia, rules with his colleagues over a land remarkably free from the excesses that mar the regimes to the north—Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, et al.


It is of interest to consider the cases of the various Rhodesians executed recently. Were they martyrs for their faith, unhappy victims of tyrannical apartheid laws, or did they commit a crime: the crime of murder, for which the accepted punishment in many countries happens to be death?

The first three to hang were James Dlamini, Victor Mlambo and Duly Shadreck. They were executed in Salisbury gaol just after 7.00p.m. N.Z. time, March 7. What had they done to deserve this?

James Dlamini and Victor Mlambo were tried, and convicted, before Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). The two had murdered a farmer, Mr. Petrus Oberhozer.

Oberhozer was driving through the outback with his wife when he was halted by a line of boulders across the road. He stopped his car and started to move the boulders. James Dlamini and Victor Mlambo stabbed and slashed him some sixteen times with pangas, in the process fracturing his skull four times. Despite this Oberhozer struggled back into the car.

While he was dying, his wife beside him, James and Victor poured petrol over him, and over the car. They then attempted to set the car alight—but their matches were soaked in blood and would not light. After this they overturned the car and departed.

Mrs. Oberhozer ran a few miles up the road to a road-works camp and raised the alarm. African police, aided by local natives—the area was a native reserve—gave chase and apprehended the murderers.

Petrus Oberhozer is survived by his wife and six children. Neither the Pope nor Mr. Harold Wilson has expressed any regret over their plight.

Duly Shadreck threw a petrol bomb at an African chief, who took five days to die. Duly was not murdering a "white oppressor", but one of his own chiefs. Five days of appalling agony for the chief were not soothed by any utterances of regret from the world's leaders.

Press Bias

Newspapers in New Zealand, and around the world, ran harrowing photographs of the mother and the fiancee of Victor Mlambo. Photographs of two of the murderers, wearing handcuffs and looking forlorn, were also run.

No photographs of Mr. or Mrs. Oberhozer, or of the incinerated African chief were shown. The world's press did not consider the mere victims of murder to be of interest—or perhaps they would not whip up enough enthusiasm in anti-Rhodesia circles.

At 7.22 p.m., March 11, Francis Chirisa and Takauraye Jeremiah were hanged in Salisbury. They had murdered a sub-chief in his sleep, and had been sentenced to death on February 6, 1965.

Francis and Takauraye were not executed because they were black-skinned. They died because they had committed a common-law murder.

In this context it is interesting to remember the fate of a white Rhodesian farmer who murdered one of his African labourers a short time ago. He was not sentenced to a few years of imprisonment, nor was he released.

As a convicted murderer, that farmer was hanged.

No cries of protest from the Pope, from Mr. Wilson, from Mr. Kirk, or from U Thant were heard. Perhaps this was because he had been hanged. Perhaps if he had been sentenced to life imprisonment there would have been protests at the leniency of the punishment.

Anyone who finds it difficult to believe that respected church leaders could call for a man's death would do well to remember the remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Ramsey.

Dr. Ramsey, and the five canons of Westminster, called for the use of military force to settle the Rhodesian question. Far more than five people would have been killed.


The alternative to Mr. Smith's government in Rhodesia is pictured in the newspapers as a state of idyllic euphoria for all—black and white living in harmony together.

The only trouble with this picture is that part of it obtains today in Rhodesia—black and white do live in harmony. Events in Rhodesia bear little resemblance to those in the African states at present calling for "justice".

18,000 Arabs were massacred in Zanzibar and Pemba.

Two Prime Ministers and thousands of Ibos were slaughtered in Nigeria—the body of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, P.C. etc, being found with the eyes gouged out.

On May 30, 1966. four of President Mobutu's Ministers were arrested. They were tried the next day, and hanged in public, before a large crowd, the day after. There was no question of any appeal to a higher court: these four were merely added to the 1y million estimated killed in the Congo since independence.

In 1960, after an attempted coup, the former commander of the Imperial Guard was publicly hanged in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia.

On the Ivory Coast, 13 people were executed for suspected complicity in an attempted coup in 1963.

Six hundred and fifty Africans in Zambia, followers of a religious sect led by Alice Lenshina, were machine-gunned. They did not want to take part in politics, and especially they did not want to vote for Dr. Kenneth Kaunda—President of Zambia. Six hundred and fifty unwilling electors will not be voting in the Chinsali district in future.

These frightful examples of "Africanisation" will not happen in Rhodesia. They are some of the reasons why Mr. Smith and his government remain in power, and why Rhodesians, black and white alike, can be grateful that five murderers have been hanged.