By Tom Brown
Make no mistake South-Africa was preparing for full scale war. The enemy being “The Communists” with the “state religion” of Atheism, who were representing of the Antichrist.
Being more of an outsider I had really no direct involvment in the defence force, as for instance also many had, people were employed by and working in factories that were manufacturing military arms. Many too had parents, family members etc who were PF (perrmanent force).
The arms industry was of the largest industries in South-Africa at the time.
In the harsh conditions of Africa often the roads too are very bad, e.g. no tarred just dirt roads and even no roads. One can be subjected to extremes of climate, heat and cold, wind, desert drought or flood, sunburn and then of course hostile gunfire and missiles. They manufactured specialised armoured vehicles adapted for, or designed for bush terrain and particularly for withstanding landmine explosions.
Many types of guns were made with almost 100% local content, such as pistols, smaller caliber assault rifles, light machine guns as well as large callibre mounted guns e.g. 20mm cannons on helicopters and bigger armoured vehicles. There was highly successful heavy artillary, the big cannons, some mounted as mobile artillary.
Also, very high technology arms were designed and manufactured such as attack helicopters, rockets, guided missiles and partly a very successful adapted fighter jet.
Ammunitions were all produced locally in fact almost all of the army arsinal was designed developed and manufactured here in South-Africa. Later on arms were sold to other countries and indeed business was found to be very lucritave.
These weapons were made to kill people. Many of them were and are today actively in use in serious scale warfare. There was never much scruples the approach was more “to the highest bidder”.
Even from the start it was deemed necessary and essential for us to be as independent of overseas countries as possible, and large reserves were established such as food stores, ammunition, old abandoned mines were pumped full with oil, etc.
Of course the ideal would be to be able to carry on indefinately in total isolation.
As an example, since the country has very large rich coal deposits but has almost no oil, it was very desirable to find a chemical process for turning mined coal into oil and petrolium. It was done, and very successfully. The centrifugal method for enrichment of radium was also invented in SA.
They went even as far as making atom bombs which were hidden under-ground I believe there were six bombs. It sounds stupid to me it sounds quite insane. Who on earth would we want to bomb? There were also programmes developing chemical and biological warfare.
Hopefully none of this is still secret and classified information I do believe it is not.
There were forms or propaganda everywhere and indoctrination, the aim amongst others to create a sense of belonging and patriotism. Active members of the enemy were called “terrorists” and now the same are our struggle hero “freedom fighters”.
We were almost every-one envolved in the war in some way or another even from childhood and starting with Voortrekkers and Boy and Girl Scouts, and these the whole of school career right from the start already of primary school to the last. Churches also played a big role. These organisations obviously are voluntary.
Each morning with school opening the republic flag was hoist to a bugle with everybody standing to attention, and on occasion too the whole school sang the then national anthem “Die Stem”.
Of course I am speaking of “white” people and “white” schools.
Cadets was usually wednesdays and all the boys then went to school with a standard hand-out military uniform including beret. About half of such school day was for cadets– marching and drill on parade grounds. If for instance your shoes weren't shining or your hair was too long to their liking you had corporal punishment right there in front of half the school. Discipline was by humiliation and intimidation and usually meant caning. Sometimes it was more military style e.g. making you run around the rugby field or pushups and that kind of thing. PT works well when punishing larger group of boys.
The “school cadet band” and leader, with drums bugles trumpets cymbal etc marched on and practised every school day. There was a shooting range on the school grounds and each year we made turns with the other companies to practice. The boys received group and individual instruction on using the rifles and each had oppurtunity to shoot at the targets.
Then there was the yearly long-weekend camp, the bivouac, each boy had to go. Playing soldier-soldier on army grounds with army equipment. This was heavy. For mere scoolboys this cadets business was often very demanding. Young people were being humiliated and abused both physically as well as mentally and emotionally.
All pupils, including the girls on their own, had a week-long veld skool/school one in primary and another in high school. These were really for the most part obvious indoctrination and participation was compulsary.
Two years of military service was mandatory for all able bodied white men. It started with three months “basic training” which was meant to be the same for all recruits, then followed by a variety of specialised training and then deployment in different more diverse posts. Many soldiers too were sent on border duty, that is, to “the border war”. Most of the men were reluctant and did not really want to be involved, apart from that the pay was litterally a pittence.
Failure to register and enlist, not heeding call-up papers, abscondment, disobedience or to simply refuse duty was serious criminal offence. Punishment for non-compliance was severe and could range from the detention barracks to prison sentence. After completing this two years they had to do military “camps” of around three months each and also a total of two years. Many people became active members of the part-time citizen's force– the commandoes, or fire-fighting and paramedic or police reserves.
Personally I am not qualified to and cannot speak at all of life or training in the army.
The history of transition of power and establishment of a democratic and non-racial republic is, in a nutshell, very briefly:
Pressure from the international community started out as sport boicots, later to be followed by crippling international trade sanctions. At the same time there was severe drought.
These signified the end of apartheid and the border war was abandoned, coinciding with the fall of international communism and the end of “the cold war”. The ANC, PAC and SACP were unbanned in 1990 and political prisoners were unconditionally released. There was a referendum in 1992, subsequently the first fully democratic elections were held in 1994.
Jacques my brother was in the mechanised infantry he also did border duty he and most of our friends and family did military service as young men, but they didn't want me there. In fact yes I was officially in the defence force a total of 9 days. I still have my dismissal papers payslip and train ticket back.
Personally I do believe this war had really little to do with black or white and racism and discrimination but rather ideology, power and money, ultimately wealth.