Copyright © Jim Hooper 2010 (www.jimhooper.co.uk)
Protea, one of the biggest cross-border ops of the war, blitzkrieged into Communist Angola from SWA/Namibia on 21 August 1981. Included in the OPLAN was Ongiva, an important SWAPO logistics and staging base protected by a FAPLA brigade. As SADF mechanized infantry units advanced on Ongiva from the south, the 110 men of Charlie Company, 32 Bn, under command of 23-year-old First Lieutenant Thinus van Staden had already infiltrated to block the enemy's escape route.
Commandant (LtCol) Van Staden recalled in an interview thirteen years later:
"I was examining the body when Lt Naude suddenly shouted at someone not to move. On the other side of the kraal fence were three whites in FAPLA uniforms, one trying to crawl away. I jumped over the fence and took the weapon away from him, then saw that the other two were women, both dead. Although we didn't know it at the time, one had been the wife of the lieutenant colonel we'd just killed, and the other the wife of the Russian sergeant major we'd just captured. The prisoner was uninjured, and as we were tying his hands he began speaking in Portuguese, desperate to know about his eleven-year-old son, who had been with them just before the shooting began...“