Author Archive

The Day a South African Armoured Battalion Shattered Angola’s Last Mechanized Offensive – a Crew Commander’s Account

 

booknew

The author lifts the hatch on his story of how Charlie Squadron, comprising just twelve 90mm AFVs crewed by 36 national servicemen, as part of the elite 61 Mechanised Battalion, engaged and effectively annihilated the giant FAPLA 47th Armoured Brigade in one day – 3 October 1987.

 

Their 90mm cannons were never designed as tank-killers but any assurances that it would never be used against heavy armour were left in the classroom during the three-month operation and never more starkly than the decisive ‘Battle on The Lomba River’.

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The Rhodesian Light Infantry Regimental Association and 30 Degrees Publishers
 
Invite you to a book launch

with authors Neill Jackson and Rick van Malsen in attendance to sign books.

Venue: Dickie Fritz Shellhole, Dickie Fritz Avenue, Dowerglen, Edenvale
Date: Saturday, 27th August 2011
Time: 13:30
RSVP: office@30degreessouth.co.za
The Search for Puma 164
Operation Uric and the assault on Mapai
The battle for Mapai – and the final closure
September 6, 1979 a lone Puma helicopter flies northward, leaving behind the desolation of the battle for Mapai, in Mozambique’s Gaza Province. …and so it was, almost 30 years later, that Rick van Malsen returns to the scene of that horrendous battle, to search for the crash site of the downed Puma, in an effort to achieve closure for the relatives of the dead.
Neill Jackson was born in Malta in 1953, where his father was stationed with the Royal Marines and his mother the WRENs. The family moved to Rhodesia in 1956. In 1975 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant with 5 (Independent) Company based in Umtali, before serving three years as a Troop Commander with Support Commando, the Rhodesian Light Infantry. In 1978 he was posted as 2IC to 1 (Independent) Company at Victoria Falls and Beitbridge, and then to 1 Brigade HQ in Bulawayo as Intelligence Officer from December 1979 until his retirement a year later, with the rank of captain.
Rick van Malsen was born in Kenya in 1954, immigrated to Rhodesia in 1960 and joined the Rhodesian Light Infantry in 1974, being commissioned the following year. In 1978, as a Troop Commander in 1 Commando, 1RLI, Rick was awarded the Bronze Cross of Rhodesia for valour during combat. At the cessation of hostilities in 1980 he was appointed Battalion Adjutant and attended a staff course at the Staff College at Camberley in the UK. He set up the Army Diving School at Kariba, at the time the most modern facility of its type in southern Africa, before retiring from service in 1984.

Cape Town – Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Thursday said he did not know how South African Ratel armoured infantry carriers may have ended up in strife-torn Yemen.

Radebe was responding to a question from Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier, who has circulated a Reuters photograph taken this week, showing Yemeni soldiers, who had defected to opposition forces battling the regime, sitting on a Ratel in Sana’a.

Maynier asked Radebe, who is chair of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), whether he was aware of this, and whether the committee was investigating a possible violation of the end-user certificate by another country that had bought Ratels from South Africa.

“There is no evidence that these infantry vehicles were exported directly to Yemen, but my question again is, is the minister aware of this case and is this case being investigated by the NCACC’s inspectorate as a possible violation of user certificate agreements?” Maynier asked.

Radebe replied: “On Yemen, I’m unaware of any rerouting that has happened there. If Mr Maynier has any information he can tell us, but also we will find out from the inspectorate.”

Yemen is gripped by bloody political turmoil as government troops battle Islamic militants and separatist tribesmen.

The NCACC’s annual report for 2010 shows South Africa exported R373.8m worth of conventional arms to Yemen last year.

This included R239m of Category A weaponry, defined as “sensitive major conventional implements of war that could cause heavy personnel casualties”.

The NCACC approved arms sales of R68.9m to Libya last year. A breakdown shows Libya bought R1.9m worth of Category A weapons, R10.7m of Category B weapons (such as assault rifles) and R56m of Category C (support items like radios) equipment.

Pro-democracy protests

Radebe hastened to add, however, that South Africa had not exported arms to nations affected by pro-democracy protests that had swept through North Africa and the Middle East this year, including Libya.

“Since the revolution started in North Africa in December, January this year, we have put on hold many of those things and in fact we have denied applications that have come before this committee, but that would be for another time because our main preoccupation for now is really 2010.

“The other countries that we have put on hold in the period under review … where we denied countries such as Gabon, Syria, Yemen, Namibia and Zimbabwe.”

He added: “In terms of the export to Libya, it is indicated there, and the report indicates what category of weapons was sold there, but I need to emphasise that this was in 2010. We have not exported anything in 2011.”

Radebe took exception to repeated demands from Maynier to say whether last year’s arms sales to Libya included sniper rifles.

“He did not answer the question. He could answer it with a simple yes or no. So my question stands,” Maynier said.

Radebe indicated he was not at liberty to disclose the exact nature of the hardware sold to Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, but referred to fact that the categories are indicated in the NCACC report.

“I have answered Mr Maynier, so him saying that I did not answer his question is totally wrong. I cannot answer the way he wants me to answer and he has the answer in front of him, if he has the annual report.

“It is totally irregular for him to want me to answer in the manner in which he wants, like he is a principal. I’m not a school boy.”

Asked about the approval of the export of R8m worth of arms last year to Syria, which is now seeing a crackdown on opposition protests, Radebe said the weapons had in fact been sold to a United Nations peacekeeping operation “that happened to be there”.

“It had nothing to do with a direct authorisation to the Syrian government. It was for a United Nations procurement, nothing else.”

– SAPA
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