Shaweleka Fungabelo
Occupation Soldier

August 11, 1955
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Cause of death Suicide
Attack information
Date August 11, 1955
Location(s) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Target(s) Train passengers
Killed 6
Injured 11-14
Weapon(s) Sterling submachine gun

Shaweleka Fungabelo was a Rhodesian soldier who killed six people and wounded at least twelve others on a mail train travelling from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Singapore on August 11, 1955, before committing suicide.[1]

Preceding eventsEdit

Fungabelo originated from a village in northern Rhodesia and was a member of B-Company, 1st Battalion of the Northern Rhodesia Regiment, which was sent to southeast Asia to fight against Communist guerillas. By his superiors he was described as a simple man, who was well liked by his comrades, but also as someone who had a very short temper. Early in 1955 he received notification from his home village that his child had died.[2][3]

On July 22, 1955 Private Fungabelo and other members of his company were deployed in the jungle of Pahang, but he soon reported to be sick, was sent back to the base camp in Temerloh, and then taken to the Military Hospital at Kinrara, where he was treated for a minor malarial infection and a worm disease that was common in Africa. During his stay at the hospital he had with him his Patchett gun, three magazines, and 50 rounds of ammunition.[2][4]


On August 11 Fungabelo was brought by corporal J. A. Hutchinson to the train station in Kuala Lumpur to be taken to the military hospital in Kluang for further treatment. According to Hutchinson he looked slightly depressed at the time, but since he had been found fit for the journey he was not provided with an escort. On the day mail train, which also transported a number of soldiers on their way to Singapore for redeployment, Fungabelo entered a combined second and third class coach, put his service gun on a rack above his seat and sat down next to a Sikh policeman named Mohinder Singh. According to Singh a Gurkha soldier came and briefly talked to Fungabelo shortly after their departure, and when his gun fell from the rack later on he placed it across his knees.[2][4][5]

When the train was about 15 minutes from Kuala Lumpur and about ten minutes from Sungei Besi Fungabelo stood up and, with his gun in hand, went to the back of the carriage where he commenced shooting. After firing a few rounds from that position he approached Mohinder Singh and changed his magazine, but when he took aim at him, Singh tried to knock the gun from his hands. Following a short struggle Singh betook himself to flight, jumped out of a window and with a broken arm then ran to Sungei Besi to raise an alarm. Meanwhile Fungabelo pointed his gun at 14-year-old student Sarjit Singh, but as his weapon jammed the boy managed to escape. Encouraged by the pause in gunfire siblings Ganesan and Vejaya Arumugam ran towards the rear of the train, but before they could get to safety Fungabelo had his gun ready and felled both of them with shots to their legs. He then turned around and first fired a number of times into the coach full of army passengers, before entering. Pacing the carriage twice he proceeded to shot the soldiers in their seats at close range.[2][5]

Less than five minutes after the rampage had started Fungabelo returned to the first carriage, where he stabbed himself in the abdomen with a parang, pointed the gun to his throat and committed suicide by firing multple rounds into his head, which caused injuries to his brain and fractured his skull. By that time a Chinese businessmen, a Malay army recruit, and a Nepalese Gurkha soldier were dead, while three Nepalese soldiers were fatally wounded, and at least twelve other people injured. The train halted in Sungei Besi, where the wounded were taken to hospital. An autopsy of Fungabelo's body found that his brain and blood vessels showed no abnormalities.[2][4][5][6]


  • Chan Yat Yee, businssman
  • Mat Salleh bin Abdallah, army recruit
  • Birbahadur Garang, rifleman of the 1/2 Gurkha Rifles
  • Indrabahadur Nawa, rifleman of the 1/2 Gurkha Rifles, died in hospital
  • Jaharsingh Thapa, rifleman of the 1/2 Gurkha Rifles, multiple gunshot wounds, died in hospital
  • Pahalsingh Thapa, rifleman of the 1/2 Gurkha Rifles, shot in chest and abdomen, died in hospital

Those wounded were:

  • Ganesan Arumugam, railway clerk, shot in right knee
  • Vejaya Arumugam, 13, sister of Ganesan Arumugam, shot in leg
  • Mohinder Singh, 19, policeman, arm fracture
  • Five Gurkha soldiers
  • Four Malay soldiers


A coronial inquiry came to the conclusion that Fungabelo was justified in carrying his weapon at the time, though also found that he carried an excess of ten rounds of ammunitions whose origins could not be determined. It was also concluded that he was not mentally deranged when committing the crime and thence the killings were found to be deliberate murders. As a consequence of the shooting it was recommended that military personnel travelling by train should be transported in separate coaches and sick soldiers should be escorted when necessary.[7][8]


Further readingEdit

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