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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 2 of Episode 59

TimeSummary
02:29‘Borderliners: The Scars of War’ // There are many reasons for war, just and unjust; but ultimately war is about hunting and being hunted. War is about killing and being killed. And in the bush of Angola and Namibia the mighty South African army hunted and killed efficiently for more than 15 years. Those who did the hunting were usually young men, pressed ripe quickly through basic training, taking most of them from the school benches to the border trenches in just a few months. But for many of these boys the real enemy was not the one they searched for in the bush or shot at from the air. That enemy they left behind dead or alive as is the nature of war. There was another enemy, that enemy is the one of memory.Full Transcript
04:22 I gave the instruction for them to flatten the huts with a caspir and that we would open fire at the same time. It’s the overkill situation that was typically Koevoet. We would shoot as much concentrated fire into a space as possible. We didn’t know how many people might be in there with them, what they were armed with and so on so it was over kill, just in case. And as we opened up this rifle barrel of the person next to me was shot by the person next to him, so the rifle barrel actually became bent and useless. He was firing on automatic, his gun blew up and it sounded like a hand grenade and what went through my mind was that this person, the person in the hut, had thrown this hand grenade at us. We were sprayed with shrapnel from the barrel of this gun blowing up and obviously this loud bang that went with it. I got such a shock I ripped off the stock, I had an AK47 and I just kept on firing, my hand was being burnt by the barrel but I was just crazy at that time. And we were ...moreFull Transcript and References
05:52I immediately started applying bandages, putting up a drip. At the same time John Deagon was interrogating him because as a political commissar he would have been carrying a hand gun. His hand gun couldn’t be found and I guess that John wanted it for his personal collection. While putting up a drip John got so frustrated that eventually he shot the patient right while I was working on him, through the head. Full Transcript and References
06:21I just remember feeling the most incredible rage and anger that he was ignoring me and that he was lying at the time, because he said ‘kandi shishi, kandi shishi,’ he doesn’t know anything. Then I brought the person that we’d captured the day before. They’d been travelling together and I said look here’s your companion, we know your name is Congo, we know everything about you, the game’s up, you’re wounded, let’s get this over with. Tell us where your gun is, tell us where your rendezvous point is and then it’s over. And he still denied it and I took out my pistol in a rage and I put a bullet between his eyes. I shot him. I executed him. And after that it was as if I was looking at the scene from above and I could see myself standing there with this gun in my hand and everyone looking a bit shocked and the family from the kraal standing there and they were also very, very shocked and the kids were just very shocked. And I walked away, I just said to the team clean ...moreFull Transcript
08:05I’ve met up with John earlier this year to try and understand why he did that and how that affected him. I went to visit him in Johannesburg, he still wears camouflaged uniforms, the room where he was living was covered with camouflaged netting, he’s dropped out of society, he’s on drugs, he’s an alcoholic and he tells me that it was all because of that day and what he did and that he completely lost it and that 15 years later he’s still carrying that incident with him.Full Transcript
08:46My life since then has been very, very difficult. It’s had a big element of self destruction. I’ve been through two marriages. I have a daughter. But really I’ve just destroyed the people around me, my friends, my family and I think it’s enough now.Full Transcript
09:08Shaun and John who fought this war were told they were protecting their country and their people against the threat of communism. The church and its chaplain said they were fighting for the Christian faith. The politicians said they were killing and dying on foreign soil because their country needed them.Full Transcript
09:30‘Make the heavens bow down. Touch the mountains and make them smoke, bring down lightning and scatter them. Send arrows out and confuse them. Reach down from above. Pluck me up and save me from the great water from the hands of the foreigners.’ // ‘We want to win. Not me. We want to win. You are making a contribution. I will lead. You will kill the enemy. I will tell you how to do it.’Full Transcript and References
10:05This cocktail of God and fatherland was backed up at home with medal parades and military manoeuvres. The news was clinical and heroic. To keep the machine rolling and white South Africa’s morale up, the blood and guts, the dying and killing was not shown. Those who came back from the killing fields came to a country and a people that did not understand them or the dark secrets of the bush.Full Transcript
10:34The people who weren’t there have no idea. They have no idea what it’s about. They have no idea what goes through your head. You have to remember that our parents’ generation did not experience a war. Our grandfathers were in the Second World War. Then our parents missed a war and the next generation was again involved in a war and there isn’t another generation to whom you can explain it. So you can only explain it to the previous generation. In my opinion they had no idea what was happening because in the end you feel nobody understands anyway. Why should we talk to them? Nobody was there so what must one talk to them about? They will never be able to understand it.Full Transcript
11:32Today this alienation lies at the centre of a deep trauma that many war veterans face. The thought that nobody understands that the war was in vain. The world they fought in and for has changed completely. The former enemy is now a respectable government, South West Africa is Namibia. The war may be over, the images faded, the statistics forgotten but not for the veterans who shipped out to war.Full Transcript
12:05Once I got admitted to the orthopaedic wards I started seeing the results of the war. I mean there were people lying around who had legs off, feet off, arms off, hands off, major shrapnel wounds, parts of their faces blown away and there were these constant flights coming in of ambulances flying back from the border with yet more people coming out of these ambulances or more body bags. It was very difficult to escape the idea that there was a war happening and somehow you were right in the middle of it.Full Transcript
12:43It was in this time as South Africa was counting the losses of the first big military push into Angola that the Vietnam war was coming to an end. The so-called Vietnam syndrome had not yet been coined, but in the bush South African troops were using the word ‘bossies’ to describe the other psychological wounds of war. The strange, unpredictable behaviour of some of their colleagues. // ‘’Bossies’ is derived from the word ‘bosbefok’ – literally meaning ‘bush crazy.’’Full Transcript
13:22I wake up at night then small fat men with bald heads chase me. They chase me and pin me down. When I call for help no voice comes out. There was a time people said I was mad because they regarded those of us who came from the border as mad.Full Transcript
13:44I was hyper vigilant, I was having screaming nightmares every night for at least six months. I was very anti-establishment, anti social. I was cold. Whenever I heard a loud noise I would dive to the ground. When I heard helicopters I would look for somewhere to hide.Full Transcript
14:14There was a time when we would sit around drinking I would jump up, grab a broomstick and start shooting.Full Transcript
14:28Even I didn’t know what was happening. When I came to my senses I was already angry, furious. Angry was not the word. I was a monster but I couldn’t understand it, I couldn’t explain it. Everyone around me lived in fear of even a teaspoon falling.Full Transcript
14:58I’ve got four of the symptoms, like hyper vigilance which is paranoia with paranoia. It’s extreme paranoia.Full Transcript
15:13Often at night I would jump up and shout Cover! Cover! Cover! Then I would be sopping wet.Full Transcript
15:25The stress comes afterwards. It did for me. I never thought I suffered from stress. I thought I had an aggressive personality. But it just got worse and worse, so much so that today I don’t have a single friend because my aggression chased everyone away from my friends to my wife. Today only my parents stand by me. But that’s enough to make a new start.Full Transcript
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