The South African Border War


     The South African Border War was a conflict in the South West Africa, in what is now Namibia and also in Angola between the South African forces and it’s allies and the Angolan forces, before the independence MPLA, the SWAPO and it’s allies. The conflict was not a current conflict but consisted in some attacks by the SWAPO and some battles between the two forces. Officially the war began in 1966 but since the First World War some conflicts had been occurring because of the occupation of the former German colony of the Süd West Afrika (South West Africa) by South African forces under the command of General Louis Botha.

     In 1966 the conflict officially began. The black population of Namibia had since the beginning of the 60 decade, a greater opposition against the Apartheid policies in that territory. That organised in a people’s liberation front with is armed section the SWAPO plotting against the South African government that had bases on neighbouring Zambia. At Omugulugwombashe the South African Forces batted a rebellion of the SWAPO members but the police were unable of defending and military action was needed which led to the start of the military conflict. Those events in Omugulugwombashe led also to the development of the South African Defence Forces, and elite military squad with the objective of protecting the South Africans and it’s regime of the terrorist attacks.  In the end of the 60 decade was created a new organization, the Koevoet (Crowbar) responsible for working alongside with the SADF against the SWAPO forces. That led to the end of the operations of the SAP in the Border War and in the 70 decade they were very successful because they forced the SWAPO forces to flee to Angola where the South Africans continued to pursuit them.

      At the same time in the Portuguese Colony of Angola, bordering to South West Africa, the liberation movements begin the fight against the liberation of that territory in a war that was know as the Colonial War and that extended to Mozambique and Guinea- Bissau two other Portuguese colonies in Africa. Those movements were the FNLA, the UNITA and the MPLA. After 13 years of war, from 1961 to 1974, the Carnation Revolution in Portugal end to the dictatorship government in Portugal and led to the independence of Angola and the other Portuguese colonies in Africa. The MPLA took the power in Angola which led to a civil war and started to help the SWAPO movements against the South African Forces. Because the UNITA were a rival of the MPLA they started to help indirectly the South African Forces in the south of Angola and north of Namibia.  In that moment the War became affected by the international Cold War because the communist countries started to help the SWAPO and Angola against the south African forces specially Cuba and the USSR that already had sent weapons and military to the MPLA in the time of the Colonial War in Angola. In that period the United Nations had called the administration of Namibia by South Africa illegal. The United States helped UNITA with weapons since the Colonial War in an effort to stop the communism that the MPLA, helped by USSR and Cuba, could bring to Angola.

        In the 80 decade a new force, the ANC joined to the war against the South African forces because they wanted to end with the Apartheid. They made a series of terrorist attacks and also were evolved with the SWAPO. The South African forces specially the SADF were successful in there battles against the SWAPO because of the very good preparation and trainee that they had. Unlike some people think, the SADF have not only Afrikaners or whites but also soldieries of coloured, Indian and black origin.  The most condecorated soldier of the SADF was a Portuguese from Angola, Daniel Rouxo that was a former Portuguese soldier that after the independence of Angola continued the war against them in the SADF.     

       From November 1987 to March 1988 took place the biggest battle of the Border War at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola but also part of the Civil War in Angola. The roots of the battle are traced to Mavinga were the Angolan governmental forces, ex-MPLA, attacked a base with UNITA forces which had some SADF reinforcements because the South African government wanted Angola, a neighbour country, to be a capitalist and not a communist state. Mavinga was a great defeated to the Angolan-Cuban forces that had to retreat to Cuito Cuanavale. The Cubans sent more reinforcements to Angola and both forces enfrented in Cuito Cuanavale where despite heavy losses from the Angolan-Cuban side the SADF and UNITA forces cannot conquest Cuito Cuanavale with the UNITA forces suffering also a great amount of deaths. Because of that both sides had reclaimed victory the Angolans because they were successful in protecting Cuito Cuanavale and the South Africans because they stop the communism of spreading out. The truth is that the losses were bigger in the Angolan-Cuban side that in the South Africans side in which the vast majority of deaths were UNITA operational.  After this battle the Angolan-Cuban forces slowly progressed towards the Namibian border and the Cuban MIG-23 ended with the South African superiority. That led to the return of the South African forces to the peace negotiations which led to the withdrawal of foreign forces in Angola and to the independence of Namibia and together with the international pressure and the ANC opposition and their attacks contributed to the end of the Apartheid regime.


     In the end 715 soldiers give there lives protecting bravely is country against the enemy that carry the communism with them.

     This video and song of Bok van Blerk, Die Kaplyn, is in memory of the Border War and for all the soldiers that protect South Africa in that war. 

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