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May 31

Written by: Dino Estevao
2017/05/31 09:50 PM  RssIcon

 The doctors have done a great job. Three times that I had to undergo surgery and was feeling legs moving again. Three times I had to fly to Grootfontein and back as Grootfontein offered better conditions to reconstruct my limps. The doctors had to remove part of skin and patch up the bullet wounds. At least I could now move my legs but the disfigurement was ugly and the scars were permanent. 

That beautiful athletic figure was permanently disfigured, but at least I was alive.
As I started recuperating I also started becoming more and more aware of my surroundings, my new environment and the people. One day as I woke up I heard two men speaking in Portuguese, "Capunda is dead... pisou na mina." The man with the bandages who arrived a day before was telling the other men who were equally in bandage and in great pain. They were exchanging news of the war front
Hearing of the death of Capunda send my body into a cold shiver, I almost dug deeper into the bed. Capunda, Miguel Angelo was a great friend of my father and our families have lived at Chiede for years before the war. Capunda's father has set up couple of shops that he inherited. During the first SADF invasion in 1975 Capunda abandoned his land rover near the school and took off on foot.
On the arrival of the SADF, they too tried to start the Landy and when they failed they set it alight
 After independence in 1975 he became political commissary for Namacunde and my father became the director of "loja unica" in the socialist system. My father and Capunda met occasionally and often travelled together.
Capunda has shown an outstanding leadership during those years between 76 to 80(today one of the neighbourgood in Namacunde is named after him.
The men breaking  the news was Dudu, the lance corporal in 32 battalion, he was talking to his comrades. The news brought fear deep down as I thought of my father. Ever since arriving Oshakati, despite the physical pain I endured, the though of my family's safety was just as painfully. The unknown is painful and it breeds fear.For fifteen that was to be my companion.
I stayed on my own most of the time, the hospital staff were friendly and the interaction with other patients cordial. 
My next move was to start with physiotherapy and hopefully getting discharged. Suster Venter(that's how I recorded the name back in that time) was a tall blond woman who treated me like a son. As soon as a was out of the hospital pyjamas she brought me some some clothes and every morning and afternoons she would take me for physiotherapy. Because one of the bullet tore through my knee, taking off part of my kneecap my leg would curl and get very tight if not in motion. To straighten the leg would take few painful seconds. It was during one of this painful exercise that I met Jose Miranda the medic from Golf company. 
Being at Oshakati military hospital as a child must have raised many eyebrows, although I was not the youngest and curiosity took the best of many and when some of the patients discovered  that I spoke Portuguese they immediately drew me to their camp. I was fluent in Oshiwambo and Portuguese and having done pretty well at school despite constant interruption I could read and write.
Jose Miranda started his military career at the age of 14 back in1960s as part of the "movemento de libertaçao" in northern of Angola where he became a medic and eventually became a medic in one of the platoons in Golf company in 32 Battalion. He was also a patient at Oshakati, with bullet wounds in his leg. After seeing me doing physiotherapy he joined and took over from the nurse and since he too needed physiotherapy, it became mutual. Soon more people joined in and friendship was born.
In 1974 Jose Miranda moved from the northern part of Angola to Novo Rodondo as part of strategic move of ELNA, here he met a woman who became his wife and had a boy but almost a year later with the outbreak of the war he ran South, leaving his wife and child taking only his brother-in-law who was about twelve.
Somewhere along the way he became of the Bravo group's 76.
We started playing cards, I learned to play seweka and with that support I walk quiet well despite a pronounced limp. One day as I was walking  around I came into a tent that was turned into a ward. The light was dim and as I walked in silence descended upon the room like a school teacher walking into the class. All eyes were upon me.
The disturbing silence told me that something was amiss. Walked in politely and took my seat upon my bed. The eyes following me.
"Dino, you must not go back to Chiede," a voice amongst the men in the said, "you were luck to have survived. Next time you might not be so luck."
Beside I did not know if my family have survived. I did not know that these that hardly knew were contemplating about my fate. But if I was to discharged from the hospital were else could I go. At the age of none I made my first adult decision.

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Recent Blog Comments
Re: Operation Savannah
Will there be another reunion .?
By Jack on: Thursday, April 04, 2019
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
Was a gunner in that attack . Was in 1SSB and slept in the isle on that night, in the bungalow .Ran out of the bungalow after first red eye was shot
Slept in a bunker after that attack.Still have nightmares about that attack.
By Barry Callaghan on: Tuesday, April 02, 2019
Re: An SADF Conscript Remembers the Early 70s – Part One
hi to all
just wandering if any of you served with my dad , Derick Anthony Beard on the Angola border in the 70s .
he was in the Kaffrarian rifles unit according to my mom
My Dad passed away in 2016 August and would like to find out more about his amry days
By Bruce Berad on: Thursday, January 10, 2019
Re: The outbreak for the border war
This is a great information about the history you put in here. thank you go to website
By Chris on: Sunday, December 16, 2018
1980 camp in katimo
My last 3 month camp in Katimo in 1980 after doing stints all over swa was the best of all. Slept in a bunker next to the river spying on the pont that was crossing over the zambesi river.cathing tigers in the river .
Would love to return to that erea of the world.
By Gordon Rudman on: Tuesday, October 16, 2018
I used to be able to log in but can’t do so any more.
Johan can you assist.
Thank you
By Rocky Marsicano on: Saturday, September 08, 2018
Re: An SADF Conscript Remembers the Early 70s – Part One
Very interesting read. I was also a Durban 1973 intake ( may 1973 to 4 SAI ) My experience of the whole 'boertjie - soutie ' thing was a little different. Right in the beginning there was a bit of " Wat kyk jy jou blerrie Engelsman" / " What's your problem clutchplate / dutchman" but I would say that by halfway through basic that had gone almost completely. The platoon I was in after basic was probably 70 % English 30 % Afrikaans but in reality there was no distinction at all among us. Our platoon had an Afrikaans lieutenant , the other two platoons in the company had English speaking lieutenants . There was not a man in either of those two platoons who would not have jumped at the chance to join our platoon. It sounds like a stupid war cliche but we really would have followed that man into hell and back. We loved that man and would have done anything he asked. He never shouted at us to do anything . Only ever asked and it was done. Just before we went to the border we lost him. He had to go home on compassionate leave and he never rejoined us. We all felt like we had lost a father. And here is the thing. He was also just a DP like us who started off the year before us and naturally being degreed was older than most of us. Anyway that was my experience. One other little thing. You mentioned that they were not allowed to hit you ?. No-one told the PTI's or PF instructors that at 4 SAL lol . I had the shit kicked out of me on the shooting range so hard I fell beneath the 'skietpunt'. When I clambered back the staff sgt inquired in a faux concerned way ' Het meneer seer gekry ?. Will meneer n klagte afle ?. Moet ek vir meneer n vormpie gaan haal. ??. I just managed to stammer 'Nee staff' to all three questions. I had stood up and turned around after getting a stoppage and got the man's point. Anyway this is your blog not mine. Thanks for your blog.
By john jones on: Monday, August 06, 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Duncan, I remember you well!

Unfortunately I do not know about Maj Kruger. I've made enquiries in the past but wasn't successful.

Take care!
By Johan du Preez on: Thursday, May 17, 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Hi Johan
You mentioned 1 Mil in your story. I was there 15th Nov 1975 spent 9 mths-also very secretive. Lost both my arms. You mention a Major Kruger -Social Welfare. She was a wonderful person. Would you by any chance know if she is still alive and if so, how to contact her. I last met her in 1980 at 1 Mil.
Great site
By Duncan Mattushek on: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Re: The Battle of Mongua: From Ondjiva to Preira d’eça
Sorry to reply very late Lukas, but the story of the statue is a sad one. In short the money to make the statue was either stolen... There is lots of infighting in the provincial government.
By Dino Estevao on: Monday, April 30, 2018
Re: The Battle of Mongua: From Ondjiva to Preira d’eça
I must say i'm so happy to see my great grandfathers name being mentioned in the books of history. i grew up hearing of his names in stories (folk tails), know i have discovered myself his name and his contribution to the world history and the shaping of the Namibian and Angolan borders of today
By Thomas Mweneni Thomas on: Sunday, April 29, 2018
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hi Johan
I drove 72C in smokeshell, Kobus Nortje who has put up a number of Photos was in 72A
As you know from Hilton's email above I have written a book that Hilton is editing and I'm looking for good photos. How do I contact Kobus to ask him for permission to use the pictures?
Thanks Brian
By Brian Davey on: Monday, April 02, 2018
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hilton, I could not find the exact reference in my notes, but I suspect it was Lt Paul Louw as I do remember reading about that report. As soon as I pint it down i will get back to you again...As to the photographs, none of them belong to me. Many come from the 61 Mech site and you may be able to obtain high res ones directly from them.There has been too many holdups and issues re the publication (mostly from my side) so I would have to re-approach the publisher to do it "my way" as previously they wanted me to reduce a 200-page manuscript to 64 pages to fit to the standard format of the publisher's series. It was not exactly what I had in mind, so I put it on ice...
By Johan Schoeman on: Friday, March 16, 2018
Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell)
Hi Johan,
Thank you for the wonderful service you provide for Bush War vets.

1. Can you tell me which officer said during the attack on Smokeshell, "My troops are bleeding!" It might have been Maj Fouche.

2. An old friend of mine, Brian Davey, is writing his memoir of National Service, including Smokeshell. He was driver of Ratel Seven-one Charlie. I am doing the editing, and would greatly appreciate permission to use some of the photographs you have here.

3. When do you think your book will be published?

Thanks again
By Hilton Ratcliffe on: Tuesday, March 06, 2018
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
I was 10 years old and went to skool in Katima Mulilo, I will never forget that knight, siting in the bom shelter. Our house was against the Zambezi river next to the gest house.
By Jan Cronje on: Tuesday, January 23, 2018