Mhambi has been redeployed.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Niemand, truth and innocence lost at Cassinga

In May 1978 South Africa launched their largest offensive paratroop operation ever. The target was Cassinga, a little Angolan town a few hundred kilometers from the Namibian border. When the recriminations flew soon after, the South African Defence force claimed it had been a large SWAPO base. SWAPO claimed it was a refugee camp.

A participant in the attack suggested to Mhambi - as if it exculpated - that their intelligence showed that there was, besides a considerable military presence, a brothel at Cassinga.

There certainly were civilians, and so was the head of SWAPO's armed force PLAN, Dimo Amaambo, on the day of the attack. Cuban presence was 15 km south of Cassinga, at the village of Tetchamutete (Chamutete).


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At the time an international solution, namely independence for Namibia was on the cards. Amazingly prime minister Vorster's cabinet had already approved the plan in principle. A plan that would see international monitors conduct a multi-racial election for the South African administrated territory.

Then, barely two weeks after after the cabinet approval, at the insistence of the aggressive defense minister P W Botha, the attack on Cassinga came.

The South African attack began at dawn, and comprised several bombing raids and a large paratroop jump led by the larger than life Colonel Jan Breytenbach.

The jump went partially wrong and several paratroops landed in the marshes and river that bordered the town. One soldier that fell in the water told how he stood on the tip of his toes. He could barely lift his head above the water. His heavy equipment held him down. But passing South African troops saved him when they heard his cries.

The soldier just behind this one in the jump, one Niemand, was never seen again.

After the bombing raids and after the paratroopers had reorganised heavy fighting ensued.

The Cubans came to the aid of Cassinga with tanks and armed vehicles. Still 1000 inhabitants of Cassinga died that day, many of whom were women and children. And with them the peace deal was swept off the table.

The War would continue for 12 more years.

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4 comments:

DSFILMS said...

"Still 1000 inhabitants of Cassinga died that day, many of whom were women and children."

What load of horseshit man. Read more about Cassinga and stop listening to those pathetic propaganda cries of SWAPO and their sympathetic communist supporters. They dug up the graves, most of the dead were MALES, very few children. A SWAPO soldier himself, who was at CASSINGA, admitted that the SOUTH AFRICAN PARATROOPERS did not shoot any children. He himself testified that when he was there, SOUTH AFRICAN PARATROOPER OFFICERS shouted to their men to not shoot any children. The only children that may have died is from the bombing run that happened before the paratroopers went in. If anyone would like to even try say how evil the SADF were for bombing Cassinga, then maybe they should start pointing fingers at the British RAF and American Air Force who bombed hundreds of German towns during World War 2, thus killing thousands of innocent children. Now I'm not picking sides, but SWAPO's propaganda machine was their main weapon.

War is not fair, that is true, but don't you dare go and try make a point about woman and children being killed at Cassinga, trying to add more shit to the pile of bullshit that is already out there that the SADF purposely targeted children. I advise reading Eagle Strike, A book from the man who planned and actually went into Cassinga and lead the attack, Colonel Jan Breytenbach, who tried getting a hold of the "brave" PLAN leader, Dimo Amaambo to add his version of the story to the book, but he never replied. Let us not forget that the Brave Dimo Amaambo abandoned his troops when the SADF troops came out from the skies above. Get the book here - http://www.bushwarrior.com/standard.htm

Its a no bullshit account of what actually happened.

Wessel said...

Actually we interviewed Jan Breytenbach, Constand Viljoen and many other soldiers that took part in the attack for the documentary Grensoorlog.

I think there's little doubt that it was a valid military target. I mean the head of Plan was there, and many soldiers.

The question is how many women and children died. I'm interested in what you mention. Exactly how many women and children were found when those graves were dug up? And who is this chap that testified and where did he testify?

I was told by an officer that was present how he shot a guy who had his hands in the air in surrender just after he landed. His reasoning? They could not take any prisoners since they were paratroopers.

But he too denied that they shot children. I too find it hard to believe, but stranger things has happened on a battlefield.

See for instance what the US army did in Vietnam.

Secondly you miss the point I'm trying to make. And that is that the attack was used by PW Botha to scuttle any hope of an earlier peace.

Wessel said...

By the way, as a filmmaker with an interest i the subject (like me) I suggest you listen to this radio documentary on the Vietnam Mi Lai massacre.

I don't mean to suggest that the SADF parabats did what the marines did at Mi Lai. The Mi Lai soldiers were badly trained and their commander was weak.

The SADF attack was lead by crack troops, and strong leadership.

PS: Have you heard of the hitchhiker of Cassinga? Now there's the best story of Cassinga for a feature film.

DSFILMS said...

Very interesting. and I think that's why Cassinga is such a controversial topic and why it would make such an amazing film.

I'm just sick and tired of people taking in all the propaganda and then pointing fingers at the SADF. This story needs to get told, and it needs to be gritty and real. To show both sides. Civilians did die, yet the paratroopers were not ruthless killers. Viljoen himself ordered the release of the prisoners after the choppers couldn't carry anymore. They were never executed. Yet, surely a Paratrooper would feel the need to shoot the first thing he sees just after landing. Its a survival instinct, not to mention all the adrenaline running through ones system after just jumping into a combat zone when just two weeks prior these men were at home with their families and their jobs, not having the faintest clue that they would be jumping into Angola on 4th May 1978.