In mid-1964 the Smith regime in Southern Rhodesia was moving towards a final ban on the African nationalist parties, ZAPU and ZANU. At the same time it was widely believed to be preparing for a Unilateral Declaration of Independence and the nationalist parties in their turn were trying to find ways to prevent this. Both chose to launch sabotage campaigns, so as to demonstrate African opposition. In late June 1964 there was a wave of sabotage in Chipinga and Melsetter in Rhodesia's eastern districts. Roadblocks were erected, the police camp was attacked, dynamite was laid at bridges. Notes were left at the scene of some of these actions purporting to come from “the Crocodile Gang.” On the early evening of 4 July 1964, a 45-year-old foreman at the Silver Streams Wattle Factory in Melsetter, Pieter Johannes Andries Oberholzer, was driving home with his wife and daughter along the Umtali/Melsetter road. He came to a low roadblock made of stones; he tried to ram it; the car turned over; Oberholzer was stabbed to death; his assailants dispersed when another vehicle approached. Police found two notes at the site of the attack. One read “Confrontation Smith. Crocodile Gang will soon kill all whites. Beware!” The other read: “Crocodile Group in Action. We shall kill all whites if they don't want to give back our country. Confrontation!”
How are we to read the significance of July 4? The events have been described in five main sources and they look very different from these varying perspectives. “What is Truth?” asks Ndabaningi Si thole, in the earliest of the sources. The Crocodile Gang's killing of Oberholzer constitutes a historical equivalent to the famous old Japanese film, Rashomon, with its presentation of different but equally plausible narratives of a violent event.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.
* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 14th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.