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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 93
Paragraph Numbers 189 to 199
■ POLICE AND MILITARY COUNTER-INSURGENCY OPERATIONS IN MOZAMBIQUE AND ANGOLA: OPERATIONS ALTER/MILA AND SILWER/DISA
189 Details of the SADF’s military strategies in Angola and Mozambique were discussed above. These surrogate operations were launched in implementation of these strategies, although it must be recalled that Silwer formed only a part of the overall strategy for Angola.
190 In summary, the goal in respect of both Mozambique and Angola was the establishment of sympathetic, or at the very least, neutral governments which would ultimately form part of a Southern African community of nations. However, the possible overthrow of the Angolan government was not discounted.
191 Few specific details are available on Silwer and Mila, due to the paucity of the archival holdings on these operations. Most of what is known by the Commission on the RENAMO project was supplied by Mr Roland Hunter who, in the early 1980s, was in the SADF, attached to DST as an aide to van Niekerk. He was at the same time supplying information to the ANC, for which he was ultimately arrested and gaoled. The information he gave to the Commission is included in the discussion on DST elsewhere in this volume. It contains details on the staffing and funding of DST head office, the operating heads of the different projects and of the training and other camps of RENAMO in the Transvaal.
192 South Africa took over responsibility for RENAMO in March 1980 and the redeployment of RENAMO forces occurred in March and April of that year. They were dispersed over three main bases in the Northern Transvaal, with operational headquarters at Sawong near Phalaborwa. The leader of RENAMO, Mr Alphonso Dlakama, and six senior officers and their families were placed on Vofal, a farm north of Pretoria. The then secretary general of RENAMO, Mr Orlando Christina, who also lived near Pretoria, worked in the DST secretariat in Pretoria and, like Dlakama, was on the SADF payroll.
193 Training took place at these bases and at Camp Hippo in the Caprivi. However, the largest element of the assistance comprised material, weaponry, uniforms, clothing, food and agricultural implements. This was supplied not only to the local camps, but in monthly drops by the SAAF into RENAMO-held territory inside Mozambique.
194 There was also some deployment of Special Forces troops inside Mozambique. In 1981, Captain Alan Gingles, a former member of the British SAS and Rhodesian military then attached to 5 Recce, was killed in a sabotage mission near Beira. He was attempting to blow up a railway line when the device exploded prematurely.
195 In the military archives file on Mila [HSOPS/309/4], there are entries which also confirm the use of Special Forces’ troops inside Mozambique. ‘Special Op’ instruction 10/83 (11 March 1983) states that “a small team presently deployed in the Inhambane province on Operation Bristol is to be extracted prior to this exercise” (the monthly drop). A month later on 8 April 1983, ‘Special Op’ instruction 12/83 reads “there are at present no Special Forces teams deployed with the RNM [RENAMO] … monthly resupply to be provided to RNM in line with approved objectives”. On 25 May 1983, a drop involving four C130 planes included five RNM leaders who were parachuted in, along with sixty palettes containing, inter alia, 450 AK-47s, six RPG rocket launchers, 894 888 rounds of bullets of one kind and 40 000 of another, 800 hand grenades, 600 40mm RPG-7s and 180 anti-personnel rockets, along with such provisions as 200 kilograms of soap, forty kilograms of tobacco, 1 656 torch batteries, 240 kilograms of salt, 175 kilograms of sugar, 420 litres of diesel fuel and so on.
196 The file indicates that drops on this scale continued monthly throughout 1983. No file is available for 1984, the year in which the Nkomati Accord was signed and when all aid to RENAMO was supposed to cease. In fact, support for RENAMO never ceased; it simply changed its form. As Craig Williamson told the Commission, what had been an official project became a covert one. Evidence before the Commission shows that a two-year stockpile of weaponry was delivered to RENAMO in the two months preceding the signing of the Accord. The Gorongosa diaries found in 1985 also provided firm evidence of continuing SADF involvement with RENAMO in violation of the Accord, including secret visits to the organisation’s headquarters by at least one cabinet minister, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. In evidence to the Commission, Pik Botha confirmed the authenticity of the diaries and that they had been a major embarrassment to the government. He was unable to offer a convincing explanation for his deputy’s visits, but claimed to have had no foreknowledge of them.
197 It appears that both the cabinet and the SSC, including even State President PW Botha, were kept in ignorance of ongoing involvement with RENAMO. Then chief of the SADF, General Viljoen, may have authorised the continuing assistance to RENAMO.
198 In the case of aid to UNITA, files from the military archives reveal frequent joint planning meetings between SADF and UNITA military officials. On 2 December 1981, a plan was agreed for a joint operation in Cunene province in order to “help UNITA regain control of its traditional area of strength in north-east Cunene”. Silwer’s goals for 1982 are detailed as “protection of Cunene province, extension of UNITA influence in Cunene and Moxico provinces … elimination of SWAPO as a realistic threat to South West Africa”.
199 The file for 1982 (the only one made available) contains numerous references to supply drops such as those in Mozambique, as well as to several limited military operations to enable UNITA to move into new areas. It is clear that the level of SADF military involvement with UNITA on the ground was far greater than in Mozambique. The presence of MK camps in the country was certainly not an insignificant determining factor in that regard. The list of ANC members killed in exile reveals that considerably more MK combatants were killed in what are termed “UNITA ambushes” than by the SADF in combat. This was, indeed, the single largest cause of unnatural deaths amongst ANC members in exile.