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If you would like to join this exclusive community and have your own WarBlog where you can post your personal stories about your experiences in the War In Angola, also known as the Border War, please go to the host site (www.warinangola.com) and register as a user.

Only Registered Users of War In Angola that have subscribed to the PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP will have access to their own WarBlogs. For more information on the Premium Membership, click here...

 

 

 

 

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Apr 30

Written by: Dino Estevao
2018/04/30 07:11 PM  RssIcon

 
Suddenly the stretch between Namacunde and Chiede became very dangerous to travel, let alone for those who lived there. The twenty-four kilometers roads became known as the road of death and only few dared to venture there in the years from 1978.
 
My last trip through that road was in 1978 with my mother and her sister my favourite aunt, Helena or maybe I was her favourite nephew. 
 
I was very sick and they had to take me to Namacunde hospital. Life in Southern Angola was becoming extremely difficult and the only vehicles reaching place like Chiede were the military trucks that brought supplies of the basic commodities. The vehicle was often escorted by FAPLA. 
 
We had to climb in those truck and travel for what seemed an eternity. The road was bad, part of it washed away by the rain and part of it was perceived to be a minefield.  We huddled together as my mother prayed for our safety throughout the dreadful journey. I was shivering due to the high fever but I could have been scared for I have heard of horror stories from those who have survived that road.
 
There were soldiers, ODEPE(civilian defence, I'll equipped and hardly trained but at least they had guns) and civilians everyone praying in their own way. I lied there with a fever of 120 degrees I could feel the fear and then one of the tire burst, the sound was so loud like explosion that everyone start crawling in the floor of the truck. 
Everyone thought that we were ambushed, fortunately the driver brought the vehicle to a standstill. For few seconds we laid still with our heart pounding in our hands.
 
Finally someone shouted, "é pneu!" It's a tyre!
Shoewww! Everyone let out a sigh of relief.
We had to climb off the vehicle and sat a distance away in the shade while the soldiers fixed the tyre. 
We also had to be very quiet to listen to any strange sounds, especially the sound of planes and helicopters.
 
You see the threats in this road between Chiede and Namacunde came in three folds:
1. Ambush
2. Air strike 
3. Land mine... All of them very lethal or take your choice!
 
After fixing the tyre we climbed back and drove to our destination.We stayed for a week at Namacunde and when I was better we went back. Travelling was only as last resort and if possible by foot. 
 
Because of these threats and constant harassment from the South Africans Security forces as well as the threat from Chitumba a decision was made to move my grandfather and grandmother from Ohongo to Chiede where we could be closer to each other.
 
Schooling was also another challenge, it was being disrupted every second day. A sound of a airplane was enough to send everyone running or nervous breakdown. What was happening between Chiede and Namacunde was either deliberately aimed to isolate the town and render it vulnerable or just creating chaos to the community. There were also theft of cattle and kidnapping of herdsman. People disappeared without trace, especially young men.
 
One day when we were at school two fighter plane came. Everyone started running tripping over each other, crying but the situation got worse when they started shooting. We were running north-East out of the town in the bushes. The plane's target was the building at the end of the town towards Namacunde. They shot the building into pieces and then left.
 
That afternoon mothers went about the places looking for their children. School was suspended indefinitely. 
 
After the independence my father's role was to coordinate logistics and education. He played a vital role in sending the first group of students to Luanda and Cuba and some like my elder sister was to end up in the small island near Miami. 
 
My father's experience as a comerciants was to earn him the position to oversee the stocking-up of the, "Loja do povo" which replaced all form of trading or business. "loja do povo, loja unica..." and other names that came with that system of thinking.
 
With the school suspended at Chiede, there was a plan to move the senior student north where they could continue with their studies. My brother Leo was part of this group. My father and Capunda met occasionally to discuss and plan to move the group of children to places of learning. Capunda was a dynamic leader, the right Comesario-politico for that period. Capunda and my father were friends from way back before I was born and his mother was one of the first people to welcome me back at Chiede in 1995. 
 
They eventually manage to get some learners to Namacunde for a short period but there was eminent threats, the possible attack in either town. 
 
But Southern Angola was getting extremely dangerous. There were too many air strikes, villages were burn down, herdsman disappearing and others tortured and released to spread fear and panic. 
 
One day two fighter planes came down at Ondjiva dropping bombs at the administrative building and hospital. Towns and villages  were no longer safe and gathering should be avoided.
 
During the day people avoided grouping, they would work on their fields and herd their livestock. Anything that resembled military or can be associated with military should be destroyed. At some stage I bought a toy plastic AK at the loja do poo and had a khaki trouser with pockets that looked like army trouser. My grandma took the toy and smashed into small pieces and then took my trouser and burned it.
 
 At home we had one of the oldest weapon that came from Mandume ya Ndemufayo's war against the Portuguese domination and finally against the English in 1917. The weapon was a symbol and family heritage and pride of our family history. The "spingarda" that my grandfather used to defend "oshilongo" was finally  burired in the field.
 
One early morning two helicopters flew from the border towards the East of Chiede. Not too close to town but also not too. They did not fly high, at the East of the town they started encircling a particular area. One helicopter went up and the other went down, for few minutes they repeated the excise. The two helicopters flew back towards the South following each other like two birds.
 
After few minutes everyone started coming from their hide out. Everyone was asking questions. 
 
We were living in a war zone. From a child to the elderly woman have learned certain skills to stay alive. We were living to survive. Chiede had never had a strong military presence and it's geographical location has made it even vulnerable. The man who defended Chiede until that day was Eusebio, under his command was a team of fifteen men. Well disciplined and well trained platoon of FAPLA that reported to Comesario-politico Capunda who was by then at Namacunde and Ondjiva.
 
Twice FALA from Chitumba attacked Chiede, every time with more intensity than the the previous. Every time they were repelled by Eusebio's men. Eusebio too tried to destroy Chitumba once or twice  but came back with their tails between their legs. 
 
Chitumba was a military nightmare for the FAPLA  in Cunene. Chitumba was later attacked by the South African Defence Forces. 


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Recent Blog Entries
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Recent Blog Comments
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: 16 October 2018
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: 14 September 2018
Re: BUSH WAR VETERANS!
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: 08 September 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: 06 August 2018
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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: 17 May 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.
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Regards
Duncan
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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: 30 April 2018
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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: 29 April 2018
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Hi Johan
I drove 72C in smokeshell, Kobus Nortje who has put up a number of Photos was in 72A
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Thanks Brian
By Brian Davey on: 02 April 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...
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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: 06 March 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: 23 January 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Thank you for the interesting information, Sandy.
By Johan du Preez on: 03 January 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
It seems we never accomplished anything in Angola you with your foot taken in a slippery place....I was part of 16 maintenance unit ...a soldier escorting convoys all the way to Silver Porto from Grootfontein on many occasions between Dec 1975 and Jan/Feb 1976 . Everytime a truck a truck broke down we were expected to run and take cover in a bush we did not know waiting to be blown away whilst the tiffy's tried to fix the trucks on route ,,,lastly we then had to ride shotgun on a diesel/petrol train up from Lobito on the Benguela train line ,,,up the steep escarpment at a snails pace waiting to be blown away which never happened .We then after two weeks having to guard it whilst daily pumping to trucks was done to fill the underground tanks kept at the monastery abandon the train as is whilst we had to hitch a ride back to the states. A high light was being a barman at one of Jamie Ys's movies beautiful people at Grootfontein. People do not know what a civil war can do and the comfort they have or had living in in SA..For some reason I never was called to do any camps or had made contact with the 9 others who were part of that "escort defence unit" a real mix breed of English/Afrikaners .Unfortunately I but did almost lose my leg from the knee playing soccer up in Jhb lying all tied up for over 2.5 months as they battled to save it in the Mill Park hospital in around 1983.This eventually effecting my whole body.I guess it keeps one humble and the glory be to the One and only God ...regards
By Sandy Carter on: 02 January 2018
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Dankie Johan vir insiggewende artikel

Ek was daar saam RPS, moes die volgende oggend n' "tenk gaan recover", diesel refill...met my Samil 20 Lappiespomp. Daar aangekom was die track af aan die regterkant, n' paar jong UNITA "soldate" het daar rondgestaan, Nodeloos om te sê, moes maar omdraai en teruggaan na TB. Die sand was so dik die vooras van die Samil 20 het oppad terug gebuig en dit het my omternd die hele dag geneem om 13km terug te ry.
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