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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 233

Paragraph Numbers 30 to 33

Volume 4

Chapter 8

Subsection 6

Some individual submissions

Pastor Craig Botha, former radio operator and diver in the South African Navy

30 Pastor Craig Botha was a seventeen-year-old conscript in the SADF serving in Bloemfontein in 1978. After his basic training, he decided to join the navy because he did not want to serve on the border. He remained a member of the permanent forces for four and a half years and was deployed, first as a radio operator and later as a diver, on a strike craft based at Salisbury Island in Durban. He participated in various military activities in neighbouring countries.

Our mission was to launch these inflatable craft with these highly trained reconnaissance commandos on board into the water off various strategic points, [whereupon] the commandos would go ashore and they would blow up installations and generally cause havoc. And then they would escape via the sea back to our waiting strike craft and we would leave the area at high speed.
So during the time I served on these attack vessels, we performed a number of operations of which we were instructed to keep secret our destination and operation. Often we were going to sea for a period of time and were not told our destination before departure. On a number of occasions, we were visited by a number of high ranking defence force personnel who wished us well and spoke to us about the importance of our mission and what we were doing to protect the country from a total onslaught, etc...
I was very politically naive and it was only later that I realised what a lie I had been involved in. As I look back on this period, it is with deep shame and regret that I took part in these acts of sabotage and violent destabilisation. The struggles that our neighbouring states have had to undergo, even to this time, is partially attributable to these missions.

31 However, Pastor Botha devoted most of his testimony to talking about his conversion to Christianity and the various reconciliation projects in which he and his congregation are currently involved.9

9 These are described in the chapter on Reconciliation.

Mr Ian Liebenberg, former non-commissioned officer and platoon commander on the Namibian/SWA Border

32 Mr Liebenberg, socialised as a typical white, Afrikaans-speaking male during the 1970s, described his training as an infantryman and the difficulties he experienced coping with his role as the eighteen year old commander of a platoon of thirty people, most of whom had an education below standard eight (grade ten). In his testimony he stated that:

What most of us were getting both disillusioned with, tired of and what I think, in a very real sense, moulded our moral decision - making a choice for a new future and for transformation of society - was, I think, the feeling that these politicians and political generals directed and dictated politics and war from Tuynhuis and the Union Buildings. And that in many cases, especially the politicians, had no personal experience of war and its impact on humans, the land and nature. Not to mention the individual or collective human psyche.

33 He went on to ask:

What about those people in the existential vacuum from both sides that are now left with [the problem of] trying to figure out where to go? The change of government doesn’t necessarily provide you with a job or resolve the problems you have as a result of a long history of alienation.
 
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