2015/08/28 10:13 PM
while doing a research for the "in search for home" I could not ignore this institution and how the managed to infiltrate this unit. Although their stay a Buffalo was short(After few hours they were expelled), they managed to make contact and link many families back in Angola
The International Red Cross for refugees at Rundu where knocking at the doors of Sector 20 every week. They wanted access to the group of refugees that escaped from the outbreak of civil war in Angola and were being trained as soldiers at the banks of the Okavango river in the west of Caprivi.
This humanitarian watch dog were very serious about their work and were crying foul, treading carefully in a very dangerous, slippery ground in the jungle where you are either a communist or you with the other guy. There was no in-between.
Sector 20’s spin doctor denied that such a group existed. He denied all allegations with a straight face, “there are no refugee here! There is only a group of free, brave soldiers who were abandoned by their coward leaders and now are defending democracy at all cost with very little means.”
The Red Cross insisted further and became persistent, every time knocking harder and harder at the proverbial door of Sector 20, until the door almost broke.
Then one day the Red Cross decided to drive to Buffalo base and see for themselves. Empowered by the letters obtained at Windhoek signed by the highest office in that capital city, stating that they are allowed to visit any part of South West Africa/Namibia for the purpose to identify the vulnerable, refugees as mandated by the UN convention of, “19 I don’t know.” They quoted all the chapters and articles read with other chapters and articles as outlined in the legal documents governing that institution to confuse the RPs at the gate of Buffalo.
They drove along the Okavango river, crossing over the bridge at Bagani and turning slightly to the right through the winding gravel road until they found the board with the head of a buffalo and the writing on it, “Royalty, Honesty, Justice.” Few meters from this board was a checkpoint manned by a well-trained, highly equipped and experienced regimental police(RP) that were selected within the unit’s finest rank. The Red Cross team presented their credentials at RPs at the gate, nervously scanning at the board with the head of buffalo, the only board with the head of a ferocious buffalo to scare away unwelcome visitors.
The regimental police listened very carefully. They examining or at least pretending to examine the credentials, documents and identification of the visitor.
After scanning and squinting many times one of the RP decided to refer these visitors to the senior rank. “the Latin terminology in this documents are high grade,” the RP on duty said to his colleague. The senior member of the RPs was sergeant Lusaka a mean, tall, dark handsome man who policed Kimbo with the iron fist, he solved every case timeously and his conviction rate was second to none. With sergeant Lusaca on the helm of the RP squad, smuggling of alcohol to Kimbo through the river was reduced to 75% and the other 25% of the liquor was smuggled within the official transport that brought in goods from Rundu to the unit. Sergeant Lusaka’s task was to reduce the smuggling of liquor
His team was further re enforced by Cota Gringo and Cota Tomas, two characters copied from the movies of Bud Spencer and Terence Hill that sergeant major Koos Krokodil use to show every Wednesday at the community hall. Sergeant Lusaca’s policing experience was gained from the Direcção-Geral de Segurança(DGS) training manual that was found in the abandoned Portuguese army barracks during the outbreak of the civil war in Angola. This training manual, an important secret document that was to guide training programme at Nove de Marco was smuggled through M’pupa, Chitato and Calae, eventually it arrived Buffalo under heavy torrid rain of early 1976 in that part of the world. In the formation of the unit this manual became indispensable. This highly guarded, secret manual was to be kept and access to it limited to few privileged men. Those who accessed and studied this training manual were to excel in their field. Lusaca was one of them, even the holding cells at the unit were named Lusaca, this sergeant whose rank in the official document was lance corporal was approached with the utmost respect by one of his RP that fateful morning.
Sergeant Lusaca listened carefully, digesting every word as one of his trusted RP or “Bofu” as he referred to the RPs when they are not around. He shifted slowly and thought, “this was a tall order… way beyond my head.” he mumbled, almost conceding. Man like Lusaca hardly concede, but the DGS training manual was very clear about the international communities with immunity. They are nuisance but should not be touched. “If possible mislead them but do not touch a hair on their head.”he remembered one of his intructors at Kinkuzu saying.
“Escort this people to the OPS room,” Lusaca instructed his man and decided to lay low as he searched for an excuse to disappear.
The Red Cross team were escorted under heavy guards to the OPS room, a beautiful green bungalow with three doors, each door had steps painted in black and yellow strips. Across the narrow street was the OPS tent, a green tent with no walls, 200 liters drum hanging on the heavy duty chains on the steel frame bolted in the concrete floor that was used to administer punishment. The infamous OPS tent, the sad chapter of our beautiful history. Here at this descent, a short distance from the river surrounded by thick green trees and singing birds… the team of the international Red Cross were paraded before Major Duppie, who was acting as Commanding Officer(CO) in the absence Unit Commander. Major Duppie was a good leader who thought out of the box and he applied his mind when presented with a problem instead of referring to the training manual from Oudshorn for he did not have access to the other manual. If a request was well motivated he will make a decision accordingly, as was the request before him. Major Duppie listened to the head of this humanitarian organization explaining how the tracing of the next of kin and reuniting the refugees to their villages and families. He analyzed the request and tried to read through the document from Windhoek, he too did not understand what the chapters and articles referring to, the document was written in a foreign language. Maybe it was French for he too came from the French lineage. His ancestors were famous wine maker, as he went through the documents, aligning himself with the document with his ancestry lineage it started making since to him, taking his time by offering coffee and biscuit to the personnel of the Red Cross. He has come to know this men, some of them he knew their names and was once or twice invited at their humble homes. Major Duppie understood the dilemma that most of this soldiers and their families from Kimbo faced. Some of them were orphans, others have fled from Angola leaving part of the family behind. And now this people before him were going to help and reunite, “my troops with the lost relatives, wonderlik.” The major was excited, he scribbled the word, “goedgekuier” and signed letter of request, ignoring the instructions that for anything he was to consult Sector 20. He handed the letter to the head of the delegation as he stood up, “wonderlik… goodluck!” escorting them from the OPS room.
The major, a short stout man with a round face stood tall and saluted the delegation as they drove away to Kimbo. It was a short, painful drive from Ops room to Kimbo, the eight kilometers drive was my daily routine to and from school but then that’s a story for another day. As the convoy maneuvered between the grazing elephants and herds of buffalos, driving into the potholes here and there before finally reaching Kimbo full of dust as if they leopard crawled all the way from the OPS room. Finally after “burraco de lixo” on the right and over the hill like ascend was tents and wooden houses with dusty streets and children playing futebol barefoot before them. A beautiful designed on a concrete wall by the community’s famous artist and painter, Santo Junior. The writing on the wall read, “WELCOME TO VILLA CARPINTEIRO.” He was later chastised for writing Villa Carpinteiro instead of Villa Breytenbach and refused to acknowledge that the name of the great Comandante whom he met personally at Novo Rodondo should be replaced with some unknown colonel who probably never been at the Caprivi strip, “maybe just pen pusher for the state.” Many more troops took his side and others decided to debate the matter a Chuva, the canteen.
The Red Cross convoy came to a full stop and hoisted their white flags with a red cross in the center on the poles that was attached on the side of the vehicles. One flag’s cross was in the middle, the two flags’ cross were in the center of the flag. “Same thing different places,” one eyewitness later commended. Few minutes later they rolled into Kimbo, flags higher and victorious. After years of knocking at the door of Sector 20 and numerous lobbying, it finally paid off. The Red Cross rolled into Kimbo, occupying one, two or more classrooms at Pica-pau school. Without further introduction they started handing out application forms. Almost every household have left one or more of their immediate families back in Angola during the fleeing from the out break of the civil war. From the soldiers(solteiros) at company lines to the child who escaped alone were queuing in hope of tracing their siblings, mother, father or anyone who could be called family from every corner of the war torn country. I too was trying my luck and I filled in the form to the best of my knowledge but there were some informations that I did not know, but nonetheless I tried my best. I did not know the name of the soba(chief) of Chiede so that made my application not worth giving a try. I knew the chief as tatekulu Simon but they needed the full names.
The signal from Buffalo arrived sector 20 at about 12:00, the message was short but straight to the point and that how it read. “Die besoek van rooi kruis gaan voort soos beplaan...” The troop at the communication post read the message and registered as normal, skipping the tray for urgent/priority mails and placed it in “not urgent,” tray. First he did not see the urgency in that message, but after an hour of sitting there staring at the dead fax machine, the state of art communication system was also quiet. Even the BBC shortwave radio attached to a transcript at the corner was quiet. The soldier on duty after writing the third letter to his friends and girlfriend back home at the “states” he looked around the empty trays on the table except for the fax like transcript that he an hour ago classified as “not urgent, hoping that something exciting would happen. His shift was coming to an end, The instructor back at the college who was also his uncle lied to him, saying that this was the most exciting field in the military. The soldier, a trained intelligence operator and a specialist in the art of interpretation, coding and decoding, classification and declassification of the documents and messages, in short he was trained to create chaos with a military precision whenever there was boredom. And that day out of boredom and curiosity he started slowly turning boredom to chaos. He decided to reclassify the only mail received that day from “not urgent,” to “very urgent.”