Air Rhodesia Flight 825 - Incident - Nkomo Claims Responsibility, But Denies Killing Survivors

Nkomo Claims Responsibility, But Denies Killing Survivors

Nkomo claimed responsibility for the attack in an interview with BBC television on the evening of 3 September 1978, laughing as he did so, to the horror of most Rhodesian viewers, both black and white. He said that he had received intelligence that the Hunyani was being used for military purposes. Nkomo said he regretted the deaths as it was not his party's policy to kill civilians, and denied that his men had killed any survivors on the ground; by contrast, he said that his men had helped them, and had left them alive. According to Eliakim Sibanda, a professor and human rights speaker who wrote a history of ZAPU, Nkomo was implying that responsibility for the massacre actually lay with security force pseudo-guerrillas, more specifically the mixed race Selous Scouts unit, which had been known to brutalise rural civilians with the goal of shifting public opinion. Sibanda blames the massacre on the Scouts, and also supports Nkomo's claim that the Hunyani had been used militarily, suggesting that ZIPRA may have believed there were Rhodesian soldiers on board: "Rhodesian television, before attacks on ZANLA in Mozambique, had shown Viscounts ferrying paratroopers for the job," he writes, "... ZIPRA intelligence knew there were paratroopers stationed ".

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