Mukumbura: Learning The Ropes (Part 2)

January 14, 2014

Cordon Sanitaire Mine-laying Operations

Working with explosives is a dangerous business.  Make no mistake.  Having said that laying mines is not rocket-science but if you don’t keep your wits about you and exercise strict discipline and command and control, people are going to get hurt.

Sadly, there were a number of Rhodesian Sappers killed in our own minefields during laying and minefield maintenance operations.  Please spare a moment to pay your respects to these brave men by visiting the Rhodesian Corps of Engineers Role Of Honour at

Additionally there are quite a few accident survivors living with missing limbs, blindness and other injuries caused by our own mines.  Mines do not differentiate between friend and foe.  They kill and maim the layers and the enemy without distinction or warning.  I have been in the unenviable position on more than one occasion where I have witnessed our Sappers killed or horribly injured during Cordon Sanitaire operations.  I will not discuss the details in this post but I can assure you this type of incident remains very clear in ones mind.

To give you an idea of our mine-laying methodology please look at the following diagram:

Cordon Layout


As you can see we had an Enemy and Friendly Side.  In the case of Mukumbura the Enemy Side would be Mozambique, and the Friendly Side, Rhodesia.  The two fences were constructed using strands of barbed wire evenly spaced and attached to steel pickets at regular intervals.  The lower one meter or so of the fence was also fitted with mesh to stop smaller animals from getting through and detonating mines.

Here are some photos of Cordon Sanitaire, Mukumbura. (Terry Griffin):

Mukkus MF1

Here is a photo of the mine-sign you can see on the fence in the top-left image:


According to, Chenjera Chimbambaira literally translates to “Beware Grenade” in the local (Rhodesian) indigenous vernacular (Shona).  Mine-signs were attached to the perimeter fence to warn the locals of the danger of crossing the fence.  Unfortunately the warnings were not always heeded resulting in civilian casualties.

In the next post I will discuss the duties of the Rope Party, Digging Party, Laying Party, and Arming Party.

© Mark Richard Craig and Fatfox9’s Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

2 Responses to “Mukumbura: Learning The Ropes (Part 2)”

  1. daniel said

    great website with some excellent info,i would like to get one of the mine signs,do you know where I can get one

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