7 SAI Section Leader - Swaziland Border (1985-87)

Adrian was one of the immigrants called up in 1986. After basics and section leaders course at 7 SAI Palaborwa, he was involved in riot control in Cathcart, Eastern Cape, before spending the bulk of his national service patrolling the Swaziland border searching for ANC-MK infiltrators and illegal immigrants.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Inevitably, this is a work in progress. Adrian has a large number of pshotos that he is willing to let me use to illustrate his material. There are two photofiles (Links follow immediately). The photos, though captioned, are in no particular order, and there are many more to come.'

First Set of Adrian Crozier's SADF photo collection

Second Set of Adrian Crozier's SADF photo collection


My younger brother had just finished matric, and the old man of a buddy of his was in the Civvy Commando. He was a colonel, and somehow he had a connection with Armour School. He wanted him to go to Armour School. He asked them if they wanted to go to tanks and whatnot. He could get them into Armour School. This was my younger brother and his mate. They both went in. We knew that this thing was going to be changed and that we were going to be called up eventually, so we volunteered six months before that all changed, and we went in and did it then.

I had just started a new job at that stage. I thought; `Well, I'm only three months in to this. It's a good job. They said my job was there for me when I came back. I thought that I might as well go.' My buddy - Mark - was called up as well, so all of us - a group of friends from childhood - my brothers - plus my oldest brother who is two years older than me - he was 23 at the time, and Mark was 22 - he had a youngster already, so he wasn't too happy although he wanted to go and do it, because we were all going, he also had to think about his family. Its not until you're away for like two or three weeks in the army that you realise that you are missing your family a lot. He didn't think of it initially, I don't think.

I presume that his wife would have had something to say, but he knew that he would have to do it at some stage. You can't avoid it. No one was going to do a runner. We had all wanted to go to the army at some stage in our lives. We all got called up to 7 SAI - all of us.


What they tell you before you go to basics - all the guys in your village or your area - they go to the army and they come back, and they tell you; `Ja, when you go in to basics, the first thing they do is they split you up from your buddies. So you panic. This is kak. [Shit] You don't want to go in. I'm there with my brother and my mates and that, and they are going to split us all up. When we got to Sturrock Park. - I think they had campers doing the Sturrock Park thing - getting the guys on trains. Its bigger than you. You don't know what to expect. You've been to veld school, [South African institution of school children being taken on a residential outdoor course] and we'd shot guns before, because a buddy of mine used to do combat shooting in South Africa - recreational. We hadn't shot any rifles or anything like that. It was exciting.

At the station - your folks are there - and your girlfriend and everything else. I think for most guys, if you're going in and your relationship is in early days, its better just to kill it while you can. I had been going out with my chick for two and a half years already. You couldn't just say; `Cheers.' We had a good relationship.

We went to Sturrock Park, and we were standing there like everyone - just milling around. And everyone is saying `Cheers' to their chicks and whatnot. An SABC camera crew came up top interview me and ask me what I felt about National Service. I said to them; `Look. I'm not interested, guys. Really.' I was just busy saying cheers to the people. I wasn't up to it, so they took off. It was something that I always remembered.

We caught the train down to Palaborwa. It was a long journey. It felt like forever.

I'd heard all the stories. You hear about the bastard corporal who's waiting to get his hands on you. And you always think; `Are these just stories, or ...' Things like that they split you up from your buddies and all that sort of things. Other than that you don't really know what to expect. You hear about opvoks [punishment PT] and things like that. Its only when you actually experience them that you know what its actually about. We were pretty keen to get there. We'd heard that 7 SAI was one of the paraat-est, [`Paraat' - extremely smart, prompt etc.] which it is. It was the paraatest infantry unit in South Africa. You don't know what `paraat' means until you get there. They teach you what it means.

The base was beautiful. The base was excellent. This was because most of the troops spent most of the day doing onderhoud [maintenance] in the bungalows and in between the bungalows. You would think; `What are we here for? Are we here for bloody spading and raking things up?'

We got off the train. When we first got in there, we had the normal stuff-around at night, with the PFs [Permanent Force members] and campers keeping you awake and all that sort of shit. It/they didn't bother us too much actually. Most of the other guys on the train seemed to be having a hard time. There were four of us - myself, my brother, my buddy Mark and another buddy of ours, Derek. Two Scotsmen and two Irishmen. They didn't bother us at all really. Maybe because we were older than most of the other guys.

When we got there in the morning it was still cold, even though it was Palaborwa. It was Winter I suppose - July. The Samils [Military truck]were sitting out at the station, and all the PFs were standing on the platform shouting; `Hey, kom hier julle troepe.' [`Hey, come here you troops.'] They were screaming. We were thinking; `What are these ou's [`ou' - guy] problems?'

They started piling everyone into the Samils. They were packed. They were packing ous in there. There were too many in our intake. I can't remember whether we were four and a half thousand or eight thousand or something like that. There were far too many guys. We were double in the base what should have been. We were eighty guys on one side of a bungalow, where there were supposed to be forty guys - we had our beds pushed together. The trommels [trunks] were on top of each other, The kasses [cupboards] on top of each other, and we were really squashed in.

We were getting crammed into the Samils. They were shouting; `Hey, gaan die kant toe, gaan daai kant toe' [`Go to this side. Go to that side.'] - chasing the guys all over the place. You were holding on to your buddy's shirt - you don't want to get split from your chinas [buddies]. You don't think you'll ever find them again. You get kind of panicky at that stage. I'm glad I went to the army with my brother and my buddies. It would have been a bit of an experience on your own. Okay, you make buddies after a while, and you make chinas, and you meet people from similar surroundings, but it would have been quite intimidating originally, I think, if you were on your own.

Once we were on the Samils we were packed tight and they tried to give you a roofie ride [`recruit ride' - deliberately driving badly and over rough ground for the discomfort of the recruits in the back of the truck] and all that. It was not effective because we were so squashed in. We got to the camp, and again everyone is holding on tight, in case they split us up. Eventually we were on the parade ground and the colonel came up and said; `I know there's a lot of English guys, British guys and that here, so we want you to stay with your buddies.' So after all that ...! I think it was better because some of the guys didn't even speak Afrikaans. At least if they had their buddies around they could help with interpret, because all the orders and commands and everything were in Afrikaans. There was no exception made. I was lucky in that sense, because initially I went to an English-Afrikaans medium primary school, and then my first year in High Scholl was at an English-Afrikaans medium high school as well. I was pretty fluent in Afrikaans already. I went to a primary school in Modderfontein and then I went to Jan De Klerk in Germiston for a term and a half - that was a psycho-school.


We were about the only guys in 7 SAI who had an English corporal. I don't know whether he was brought in specifically because they knew there were so many English guys - Corporal Stelsner - Andrea Stelsner's cousin - the beauty queen. Initially when we say his name - Stelsner - no one thought, but then rumour got around that he was her cousin. He was okay. He had a hard time because the Afrikaans guys didn't give a shit about the English-speaking guys. They were there to give you a hard time. He was obviously there trying to give the orders in English and trying to help some of the guys that were there, because some of the guys didn't know what they were talking about. Some of the Portuguese guys didn't give a shit. Some of them were much older. There was one guy of about 26 who had a family already. He really didn't give a shit. He always used to say to them; `Hey, I'm not a child. So don't treat me like a child. All these stupid things you want us to do.'

Our company sergeant major was Van Der Mescht. They called him `Fi-fi'. He was a skinny guy with very sharp features. He looked like Montgomery. He had the sharp features and this squeaky voice. He didn't have a big deep sergeant major's voice. He just used to squeak. The guys used to laugh at him initially. That's where he got his nickname; one of the guys said; `He sounds like my old lady's poodle.' He was called Fi-Fi after that. I don't know whether the other guys called him Fi-fi or not. He was our Sergeant Major and we had Captain Coetzee - he was our Company Captain. Corporal Stelsner was our platoon sergeant.

We had a Loot. I can't even remember the guys name because he was only with us for about a week. I don't know whether he was a reject from Infantry School - Lieutenant Lang. He came down one day - they had sent him away - to the border or whatever. He was deployed. We thought; `Hell. Our Loot was all right!' This new guy came down. We checked him out. You've always got to suss the guy out and see what he's like. What a Bastard! This is where one hears those stories about the army, and the `bastard corporal'. This is what they were referring to, although this was the Lieut. We always used to think that the guys were talking shit, if the guys would say - `He used to do this, or he used to do that!'

This guy comes and stands in front of the platoon. He's got one grey eyebrow and a black eyebrow and a flash of white in his hair - a natural flash in his hair, and a natural white eyebrow. He looked like Cruelle Deville. He had this weird look about him. He was a really evil nasty looking bastard. The Lieuts weren't normally like that. The platoon sergeants - the corporals used to be like that, but this guy - he was a bastard! He came down initially, and he was sitting there and he called; `Korporal Korporal.' He used to snap things at him. He used to sit down against the bungalow wall on his haunches with his biltong and his skinning knife, and he used to skill his billies.[`biltong' - dried meat - equivalent of beef jerky] He would stare at you all the time. `Hey, kyk voor jou, vokken troepie.' [`Hey, look in front of you, fucken troop'] Everyone was shit scared of the guy.

We had an incident in the bungalow one day. They used to come. We used to go up past the magazine and go and do skietkuns [musketry]. We use to go for normal breakfast, and then do drill parade in the morning, and then you would do lesings [lectures] on medical stuff - first aid. After lunch we used to go up for skietkuns and musketry. Then you would run from the bungalows round up past the magazine - it was quite a jog - and they would give you an op-vok all the way up the road there. ??Amongst ourselves we would be mocking the lieutenant - `Go back. Go back to the gates...' You realise afterwards that its all part of training, and conditioning and everything else, but initially, when you're a roof and you were a civilian and you go in there, you think; `Hey. I came in here to fight, but this is crap.' Running up and down. You find it hard to get in synch. Eventually you do. You realise that it's a balls-around. You just go with the flow. Be naafi. [`No ambition and fuck-all interest'] Or do it at your leisure and get all the guys to go in synch and then they can't do anything to you. Anyway he jaaged [chased] us up and down and got us running there, and you had the sick guys - the light duty guys - they used to carry the black boards and the benches up there, and they used to make you go back and run around these guys - we would have to run up to the top and run around them until everyone got there at the same time. There was absolutely no point in running very fast. Not at all! You got some guys who would have jogged ahead - these guys are keen - buy its to no avail, because you're not gaining anything with these guys. They're going to send you back anyway. `Hey, stay together. Stay together. Work as a team.' That's what they want you to do. That's the basis of it all.

Guys used to gippo [cheat] as well. They used to jump into the bushes and lie down so they didn't have to run back. Then he would come back and see the ou run out of the bush; `Haai. Jy en jou maaitjies kom terug. Julle se; "Vok jou, Lieutenant.' Daar gat julle.' [`Hey. You and your friends come back. You're saying; "Fuck you, Lieutenant." There you go!'] And everyone wanted to kill this ou. It used to happen all the time, and on this particular day, before we went up there, we went into the bungalow. They used to say; `Okay., Vyf minute. [`Five minutes] Go get your kit - your staaldak, [helmet] webbing, geweer. [Rifle] Tree aan in die pad.' [Fall in on the road.] `You've got five minutes'. Forty ous in five minutes; you're running in there to fill water bottles and all this. Your kit is all hanging over your bed and stuff because you had inspection in the morning. So you've got to go and fill your water bottles - all of them - because they check that they were all full. 7 SAI Palaborwa is hot during the day. You had to have your water anyway. So everybody's scrambling to get their kit sorted, filling water bottles, and before you could say `Boo' this guy was in the bungalow, this Lieut. `Hoekom is jy nie in die pad, julle vokken troep?' [`Why aren't you on the road, you fucken troop?'] You think; `What the fuck is going on?' He would always say; `The last ou is mine. He's going to bleed. I'm going to kick his arse.' Nobody wanted to be last with this guy. We all started running back out. At that stage we had our footlockers in front of the beds, and we had fans all the way down the middle of the bungalow at 7 SAI. We had this guy in our platoon, Skinny, a lang-gat ou [tall guy]. We were all clearing out, and you could only get one stream of traffic down the middle of the beds at a time, but some guys were jumping on the trammels. Old Skinny jumps on the trommel [trunk] - he stands up and the fan whacks him straight on the head. Bah! His head just burst. Blood. It knocked him over. He somersaulted, and he hit the bed frame with his back. Everybody stops and turns around. We wanted to go and help the guy. The Lieut comes up; `Los die vokken doos. Los die vokken doos. Tree aan in die pad.' [`Leave the fucken cunt. Leave the fucken cunt. Fall in on the road.'] He could have been dead for all we knew. Everybody just turned and ran straight out into the road and left the ou there. They sent him up to the sick bay later. He had no compassion. He was a mean bastard. He got twelve or fifteen stitches in his head. We had to go up to musketry after that; we would jog up there, and get to the class, and when we were there during the day - training - if we had lesings or whatever, you used to roll your sleeves up - normal four finger sleeve. We were jogging in the middle of the mid day heat, and we get up there and they've got those little class room areas, like where from previous classes the bush is worn out, and they have a sand pit area there. They would put the blackboard up. Everybody trees aan [falls in] there. He says; `Who said you can stop? Wat doen julle? Vokken om die bos.' [`What are you doing. Fucken {run} around the tree'.] He was just jaaging [chasing] us to get all the shit out of you so you would sit quiet. He said; `Vandag se lesing is - ons gaan skietkuns doen, en ons gaan le en laai oefen.' [`Today's lecture is - we're going to do musketry - lie and load practise.'] This is the Lieut doing this. He told the platoon sergeant to tell us what the lesing was, and he would just stand there with his stick. He was 21 years old. He was the same age as me, that Lieut. 21 or 22. He was quite a vris ou [fit guy] - he was athletic. Normally Lieuts had a specific type of look about them; they were either intelligent guys; guys with degrees, or athletic guys. He was a big athletic Afrikaans guy. He wasn't a small ouk. He was harregat. [a tough nut] He had houding, [poise] this guy. He was telling the corporal what to say, and the corporal was saying; `We're going to do skietkuns' and `We're going to do le en laai'. Everyone schemes `le en laai' in this tough terrain, and start rolling their sleeves down.

`Los daai vokken moue!' [`Leave those fucken sleeves!'] He springs into action. `Los daai vokken moue. Leave those sleeves alone.' When you come into the bush you know your sleeves are down. You didn't roll them down, so now they stay up. And if one of you rolls your sleeves down I'll fuck you up. I'll personally fuck you up.'

We were checking the stones out. It was just like a parade ground. He says; `Tree aan in twee lyne' [`Fall in in two lines.] - two lines facing each other. Now he is watching everyone. He says; `Fucken one man touches his sleeves and there will be shit.' We think; `Ah, hell. Here we go.' And he did it over and over and over. What he said to us was; `When I say "le en laai" you jump so that your feet are this high. Your feet are waste height; your rifle goes into that hand, that hand goes out, and you fucken land in position. When I say "Staan Terug" [`Stand back'] you are back already.' This went on for about an hour and a half, non-stop. He just rammed us into the ground. He says: `If I see one of you fucken standing up when I've said it - I want everybody at the same time. You do it and that's it.' After a while you don't feel it anymore. Your elbows were just bits and pieces of flesh. You don't feel it anymore. He just kept on hammering the guys into the ground. Its drill and its training and that as well, but the savage way that he did it - he wouldn't have given you a break to put your sleeves down for that little bit of cushioning. He just wanted to make the guys `Eina'. [Ouch!] He was a psycho this guy.

Afterwards we went back down after training. We did something else after lesings and then it was PT. After this you still had to go and do PT. You'd go and get your PT kit on, come out, and you'd expect to see the corporal, because normally the platoon sergeants took the platoons and did PT with the guys. The Lieut comes running out there, in his PT kit. You were dreading it. You were just shit-scared. You just didn't want to see this guy again. He came out; `Kom, laat ons gaan.' [`Come, lets go!] And the guys were shitting themselves. We all jogged up to the helipad, and we did the normal PT session - harsh going with him - and then at the end of it, he said; `Om daai boom ...'. [`Around that tree'] It was about a hundred or a hundred and twenty metres away. `Om daai boom en terug. Die laaste vyf ouens is myne.' [`Around that tree and back. The last five guys are mine.') And those guys are going to shit. I tell you; we never ran so fast in our lives. I don't want to be here with this guy - not one of the last five with this ou. When we got back, and the last five guys - he made them stand to one side, and the rest of us were panting and looking back, to check these sorry bastards. Most of them were balling. They were balling because they knew they were going to shit big than they had ever kakked [shat] before. He was just like that. You just think to yourself; thank God I wasn't one of those guys, because I don't know what time they got back to us. We went down and we had post parade.

Post parade was the other thing. The corporal had your letters, and if your chick [girl] had written to you would have the `sak vir vyftig' [`down for fifty {push-ups}']- you still had to do all that. And eventually get your letter. [And it's a `Dear John'?] Ja, for most of the guys. The corporal still said in the first two weeks when the guys were getting their post - days are long in the army, hey. The letters would take so long to get through. When we had been there for two weeks we felt as though we had been there for two years already. We felt like that. He was giving the post out and he said to the guys; `How many of you guys here have got girlfriends?' Most of the guys at that stage still had. Probably 90% of the guys had. He didn't ask `boyfriends'. Most of the guys said; `We Have.' He said; `I'll ask you in a month's time again.' True's bob! He asked again, and less than 40% of the ous had chicks still. That was only after a month.

We had a guy Scottie Arnold, who is still a buddy of ours now. He just shouldn't have been there. He was a funny dude as well, but he was a real bum. He could bum anything, and he always had a story, and he was always at the welfare officer. He was always trying to get out. He would come back and say; `Another two weeks and I'm going.' We would go; `Oh, fuck off, Scottie. You've been to the welfare officer and now you're back.' He could not be neat, this guy! He was untidy all the time. 7 SAI was paraat. They didn't want anyone looking untidy. They didn't want shit around at any time. Scottie used to stand there in the platoon when we used to get tree'd aan in front of the bungalow. Scottie would stand there, and the corporal would shout; `Staan reg-op, man!' [`Stand up straight, man!'] He would try, but it made no difference. His clothes were always creased, and his bush hat would be at an angle. He looked like an explosion, this ouk..

He used to bum all the time. You know when you get parcels - my Boet [brother] and I used to get a double parcel which was grand. I smoked then, so I used to get smokes and my boet used to get something else, but besides that you would get your normal things. My old lady would make a cake. We did okay out of our parcels; Mark - my buddy would get it at the same time, and Derek would get his. We took a balsak [duffel bag] and we chucked all of our kit out and the food from the parcels in there and we had a full balsak of stuff. You didn't used to have much of that in the army lekkergoed [sweet stuff] when you were in basics because they wanted you off that shit, and just eating the scraps that they used to give us.

Sometimes the food that they gave us was great, and sometimes it was shit - you just couldn't balance it. We were fortunate enough to get a quiet place in the mess so we could go there - this was in basic training as well.


The guy just had it in for you. They were just doing it on purpose. It was the same with you, when you were there -`Opskep' and you would look at all the `Opskeppers' and you would get in there sometime and you would give your Chinas extra. That's how it goes, I suppose. Pudding. You crave sweet stuff in the army. You think; `There's loads of pudding there.' You would get a good section. You'd go; `Hey!! Give me another piece.' And then the sergeant starts looking down the line; `Hey, what's going on here?' And off you go. You don't want to get an opvok in the lines there. You clear off. And then you go back in afterwards to go help clean up and the kitchen is full of trays of pudding that they are being binned. That used to make me rage. Look at the waste here. The flies were all over it.

You would check the chefs making stuff, and they've got like oars that they are stirring in the large pots. You think; `Whoah! What are they doing to this?' That was something else.

There was so much that you used to experience in one day. There were so many stories to tell from one day in the army.

There was a guy there who had been there for seven years. He'd had that many extras because he had tried to bayonet an Officer on the border. He got seven years for that. His name was Skutter [rifleman] Bum, and Sergeant Van Der Mesch always used to call `SKUTTER BUM!' This ou was a rifleman still. He used to do base maintenance. He was in jail at night. He had all this time to do. `SKUTTER BUM!' You'd be expecting this troep, but he was a OU BALLIE [old codger]. Just because he lost it and he tried to bayonet an officer on the border. That's it. He was chucked in the clink. They had their own prison and that. We had the rooikatte [lynxs] there - our mascots - that was something else in the infantry to have that badge. We were proud of it. It was better than being a bokkop [`buck head' - infantry, from the infantry beret badge] - being a boknaaier [goat shagger]. This was something different. Not a lot of the infantry units had different badges. They kept the bokkop.

This poor ouk. You'd see this Skutter Bum running around there for all of that time. You'd think to yourself; `Fuck! I'm not going to AWOL. I'm not going to do anything to cause myself that aggravation or pain or anything like that.'

Van Der Mescht had us down for leesings one morning. It must have been first aid lectures as well as snake bite first aid. It was Rank Structure. That was it.' We were sitting there in basics - you'd have your webbing on, you'd have your boshoed [bush hat] on. You'd take your helmet off and stick it under your webbing as a sort of backrest. You'd look around and see everyone catching fish (dropping off to sleep). You'd have your book there and you'd have lines all over your book from falling asleep while writing. You just couldn't stay awake. They were talking away at the front there - blah blah blah - no one was interested. Everyone was vaak (tired) and wanted to sleep. One guy sitting in the front there was dosing. He was crashing. Van Der Mescht calls the corporal over; `Skud wakker daai troep!' [Shake that troop awake] The corporal comes over and wakes the guy up. Now he was teaching us the rank structure, right? This was basic - lance-corporal, corporal, sergeant ... He says; `Hey, troep! Kom hiersou!' [`Hey, troop. Come here!'] The guy gets up and he doesn't know where he is. He's out of it. He's in Johannesburg somewhere. The sergeant grabs him by his collar and neuks [hits] him with his knuckle. `Are you awake? I'm fucking teaching you about rank structure. What's this here?' Fair enough. We all knew up to Captain and Colonel, but when it got a bit further to general and brigadier and all that sort of thing, then you weren't sure. This was basic. He was asking him what a corporal was. The guy was lights out. He obviously didn't know where he was. `Aah ... er .., captain.' `Kaptein se hol man!' [`Captain's arse, man!] and Van Der Mescht started screaming at the guy. The guy lost it. `Fuck you! Fuck you and your army. I don't have to be here. Fuck off ... ‘ and he starts walking up the drag. Van Der Mescht says; `Hey, korporal. Gaan kry daai vokken troep.' [`Hey, corporal. Go and get that fucken troop.'] The corporal is looking like looking at him; `Hey, don't send me.' The corporal was walking along behind him trying to gently tap him on the shoulder. `Go get him'. The corporal is trying to pluck on his arm like this, and the guy was going `Hey! Fuck off! I don't have to be here!' He lost it. They just started laughing at him eventually, and they obviously locked him up or whatever for a couple of days. You are going to have that happen. For some guys its just not their natural way, and they experience something different. He did that all the time. You would be so tired because it would be rondvok [getting fucked around] from morning to night - you get in there - you've got to do inspection - you get up early - inspection's kak [shit]- you get an opvok - and it carries on like this. We kakked [shat]. I suppose it was the same for most people in basics, I would think. I don't know whether we kakked that little but extra.

There was a guy called Koekemoer who was in Alpha Company. This guy had been in and out of the army seven times. He's been enlisted, he's gone in, and he'd got out because he was a law student. He obviously knew the ins and outs of the law. He got in there, and this guy started making shit from day one. In the first week of basics we were in the assembly, and the Colonel came out to give his speech; `If you want to go home, please use the main gate. Don't go under the fence because the game reserve is there - you'll get eaten by lions. If you want to go, take the gate and go that way. We'll pick you up in a week's time, and then you can spend an extra two weeks here when your buddies all go home. If you're moffies [queers] you can wait until you go home to sleep with your buddies. Don't do it here because if we catch you in the base, you're going to go to chookie [jail]' - the whole splab. So this guy suddenly stands up all casual - and this is to the Colonel - he stands up, this Koekemoer; `Hey, Colonel. Err ... question.' He was an Afrikaans guy but he was speaking English, I don't know if it was just to piss him off. Probably! `When are you going to get this projector sorted out? And when are we going to see some movies. I see that you deduct funds off our pay for films.' The colonel was saying; `Wie's daai vokken troepie? Bring hom uit hiesou.'[`Where is that fucken troop? Bring him here!'] They were just coming in to take him because he wasn't going to have this. Who is he speaking to? Everyone was thinking; `Hey, the pair of balls on this ouk. How's this dude? He just stands up.' We didn't know the story behind it. We didn't know he's been dishonourably discharged a couple of times, and what the story was behind it. Apparently that guy - Badenhorst - I think he was still a sergeant then - came riding up on his bike outside their lines, and he was standing there blabbing to someone, and this Koekemoor ran across and actually decked him - just punched him straight in the trap, and he fell off his bike. He must have been a bit of a moggie ou [madman]. I can't think what would make a guy do that. I don't know whether it was a challenge for him to go into the army to all these different places and make shit, or what? He was discharged again after a couple of weeks. They kicked him out.

I can remember our lot chasing Koekemoer through the lines one night. We were going to brain him. They used to say - across the lines - `Platoon Three, we've put coffee or cooldrink out across at the mess. You can go and grip it.' What happened was that these guys ran across and gripped the urn, and they nicked it and they were legging it with the urn. The guys had brooms and rakes and spades and they were chasing - the whole platoon chasing this ou. They were going to kill him. They dropped the urn, and they legged it, because they saw that the ous meant business, for their coffee. They were going to kill this dude. That was the experience that we had with him anyway. He disappeared after that. He must have ducked.

The guys in your bungalow - you don't know the guys, but you start getting to know them after a while. These guys come from every walk of life; Fietas in Johannesburg, Mayfair, Sandton - all different sorts of growing up backgrounds. We had a couple of guys from Fietas - from Brixton in Johannesburg. They were skollie [ruffian] guys, who had grown up in boxing gyms. One particular guy, Andre Jansen Van Vuuren - he was a funny ou. He was a laaitie [youngster]. He must have been about eighteen or nineteen. He was like that platoon joker, but a nutter at the same time. Really, a nut-bag. We were only there a week and he went across - maybe we were all just scared - when you think of what this guy had done - he had gone across to the officers bungalows, and stolen a set of officers - Lieutenants browns and rank and everything. This guy had just been in a week. He headed for the gate - said he was going on pass. He comes into the bungalow and he goes; `Staan op. Staan op.' [`Stand up!'] We went; `What the fuck are you doing?' He said that he was going on pass. We thought; `This guy is moggie hey.' We said; `Take it off.' The RPs [Regimental Police] arrested him at the gate and brought him back. He had only been there a week and he got a Rooi Doiby [Red Doiby - indicating a person on CB drill]. You kakked there when you got CB drill. It wasn't a pleasant experience. He didn't give a shit. He did it to piss them off.

We used to go to the mess for chow, and he was there, standing in the middle of the mess, double timing it, with his pack packed with bricks, standing there with a rooi staaldak. He didn't give a shit. He did his time. He came back to the bungalow, and he used to sit there with his guitar playing songs. There was a partition wall in the bungalow - he used to sit on top, and play songs - `Vuil Katrien' and all these Afrikaans songs; `Katrien is 'n naai-masjien'. [`Katrien is a sewing machine' - sexual connotations in Afrikaans]. He used to sing these songs. Yes, he could play guitar. He wasn't a moron, He was just a rebel, a shit-causer. He would make shit wherever he went. He could play; `Bad Moon Rising' (Haasie) - he used to play that as well. There were a couple of songs that he could play. It was grand because it lifted the spirit, and the guys had a lag in the bungalow as well.

I can remember when we had our first pay-day. There were two guys in the bungalow who were gay - they were queers and the guys knew it, although it wasn't much out of the closet. They guys knew that those ous were queer, but at least they were there, and they were doing their bit. They weren't like the other guys, and they didn't really have anyone who stood behind them to help them (although I am sure back home they were lining up! J ). I can remember that we got our pay and we were going on pass, and we had to pay for the buss. We had to pay 80 bucks - I think we got 160 bucks and we had to pay 80 bucks for the bus, return trip, plus our mess fees and everything else. We weren't allowed to `Ride Safe' then, from 7 SAI. It was quite a distance, but it was a rip off. We thought; `These bastards are stealing our money. You weren't allowed to take cars the first time either. You could bring cars back with you after that. This was about six weeks before first pass, and then we came back and went to section leaders. Someone ripped these moffies off. Someone stole their money. Someone broke into their trommels which was low - really shit - if you've got no bucks to go home. We knew it was these guys and we were going to belt them - we actually went to him and said; `If you've got those guys's bucks, give them their fucking money back because its not fucking right. This is bullshit!' He was going; `Ja, ja.' We never got any shit from the dudes - we four guys, me, my boet and the other two guys, and we were the older guys and we didn't take shit from anyone in civvy street, so we certainly weren't going to in the army.

We didn't really have any problems. There were a couple of smart arses there, but we didn't get too much grief from them. You have all the different characters, like the movies they make. Sometimes; movies like `Platoon' - you relate to very much, because they have the different characters, and they are actually made very well when you think about it.

I don't have any photos from Basics, because we were told not to have cameras. We were warned not to take snaps. I missed all that, and that's the part I would have preferred to have got.

We did six weeks of basics and then moved on to section leaders. I think it was in the middle of basics we went to section leaders, because I remember the other guys were still doing basics. We had our passing out parade from basics after the other guys, I think. About 8 weeks into basics until the 4th of September until 29th of November - according to my course certificate - that was about three months at section leaders.

Also section leaders which was a great time but a hard time. Probably the hardest thing that I have ever had to endure in my life really, because it was really physical. When they had the keuraads [selection boards] and all that for the different things; they had the State President Guard and MPs and parabats and all that sort of thing. You had all your battery tests and then they would say; `Parabats at under nine minutes for the 2.4. I think I only managed a 9.13 or something. They took the times and they took the fitness levels of the whole platoon and then they said; `Right, you can't go to parabats or you can't got to State Presidents Guard or you can't go here. I think you had to be six foot or over to get into the State Presidents Guard. That would have been quite grand but we didn't want to split up the buddies either, so we decided that we would all just stick around. We didn't go to MPs or anything like that. We didn't like Mps anyway - they were arseholes. We didn't want to be one of those. As buddies we thought we would rather all stick together. We were all pretty fit. We weren't as fit as we should have been for parabats. When you are eighteen and you're a civvy you're a bit luigat [lazy bum] - you don't do much. I didn't do much sport. We were into riding bikes. We had done motor cross and stuff like that. It wasn't where athletic fitness came in. But we were still generally fit. We weren't overweight or anything like that. We did okay. As buddies, we stuck together and we pulled each other along as well. We had done pretty well, and our corporal at the time - Corporal Stelsner - he picked who he thought he should send on section leaders. He picked all of us, basically. Me, my boet, Mark and Derek. Derek was a really excellent athlete, from when he was a kid at primary school he used to kick arse. He probably could have run in the Olympics if he had had the attitude, but he got too much of kak attitude in High School, and he decided that he didn't have to train, and he started smoking. He could just get in there and do it; he didn't have to train. He would get in there and kick arse. He could run a hundred in ten. Now with proper training he could have done really well. He was a natural athlete, a natural sportsman. He could pick up a golf club and whack a ball - he was just one of those people. He's still like that today.


They had the Keurraad [selection board] for section leaders. You always used to think that the 2,4s were more than they were. We used to do them in webbing, boots, staaldak [steel helmet] and all that. You would think; `Shit. I just can't get under that time.' We got in to section leaders selection, and we went before the Captain and all that. What they did was - because myself and my brother were in there, and we had another brother in the army as well - there were three of us serving at the same time - they said that they weren't too happy about the fact that we both wanted to do section leaders because it would mean both being in a front line position if we were sent to the border. If we were both section leaders, leading a section, we both stand a chance of getting nailed at some time, and it could happen to both of you and all that sort of thing. I said; `How do you solve the problem? Is it because I'm younger that you tell me that I've not got the right to do this, or because he's older that he has more right to do it. I want to do it as much as what he does.'

`Ah, but for your parents sake '

`Look. We want to do it.'

So they said it was okay and we both got in, and we got selected. We were both selected, and they came around about a week later with the roll call. The sergeant came in - `So and so and so and so, tree aan tree aan tree aan tree aan.' [Fall in. Fall in. Fall in!] They called `Crozier' and we said `Which Crozier? There's two of us.'

`R.' That's my brother. I thought `Oh, shit!'; So now I'm waiting waiting waiting. No name. `What about mine?' `No, its not on here.' I thought; `Bollocks. These guys have said `no'. Only one of us can do the course.' I thought; `No, this is not on, hey?' So now I was really pissed off. Now I was going to sit here and my buddies were going to go on section leaders, and I would have to stay. So I was sitting there. They had all cleared their kit and gone. I was thinking; `A week from now I will be over the fence and gone.' I had lost interest. I was thinking that I would AWOL. I wasn't going to stay here as a troep. If I can't go and do section leaders, I'm going.

About forty five minutes later an ouk comes running into the bungalow. `Hey, what are you still doing here? Get your kit.'

I said; `What do you mean? I asked you, and you said that my name wasn't on the list.'

`Na, your name is here.' So I grabbed my trommel. Oscar Company lines were on this side by the mess. I grabbed all my kit and went around the top at HQ down to Alpha Company's lines because they must have moved them (Alpha Co.), and put us in the section leaders lines. When I got around there - and I came to the top of the road with all my kit - and all these guys are legging it - up and down the road; `Daar gat julle.' [`There you go!'] He was screaming and shouting and these guys were running up and down. My buddy Derek comes tearing up the road, and he says `Eckie' - my nickname is Eckie - they used to call me Eckie' (A nickname aquired from a childhood buddy Paul Abbott). He says; `Fuck off. Don't come here. We've been running since we got here. Go!'

I said' `No, kak! I'm not going back now. I'm here. I'm here with you ous.'

This was Derek - a good athlete, but lazy.

They split me into a different platoon. Initially I was in Platoon 3 with Sergeant Hatting - we had a major Karma disagreement - Yin and Yang - we didn't get on from the beginning. He was a real bull-terrier of an ou. Tight stripes, stocky little ou, with a piercing Charles Bronson type look. He hated English people. He hated souties [limeys] big time. You had to walk up, and stand to attention and he would be screaming at you. You would stand so straight that your spine would be creaking. He would walk past and he would grip your rifle, and pull it half way up so that that little sight - the round top part of the sight just fits in to your shoulder, and he used to just whack it straight into your armpit here, so that it almost made a hole there. He says; `It stays there. If I see it drop again, I'm going to fucken do it again.' You are in agony. I thought; `No, I can't take this doos. [cunt] I won't last in this ouk's platoon because I'll probably hit him with a rifle or something. He was an arsehole of note. I don't know what the reason was, but again towards the end of all the running and PT and everything, they said; `All right, if you want to be in another platoon, choose a platoon.' Somehow again I ended up with my Boet and my buddies. They said; `If there's anyone here now who doesn't want to be here, step forward.' They were just getting rid of the shit before they started.

This was hilarious. One guy starts stepping forward. These sergeants that we had - they were training sergeants now, they weren't sergeant majors or anything, they were normal sergeants. Our corporal at the time, Badenhorst - who is mentioned elsewhere at `Sentinel' - who had seen a lot of action and he was a good soldier, but he was a corporal at that time because he had just had one of his stripes pulled. He must have done something wrong. He used to wear these Ray bands. He had a Silver Hawk -(poor PFs substitute for a Harley) he had a real attitude. Whether it was his real persona or his real personality, or whether it was an act, I don't know. If he had been through the shit, then maybe it was his personality. You didn't get to know them that well. You didn't get to know them personally, so you don't know that. He was a bit of a `cool dude', with his Ray bands and he would sit there on his bike - when you are on Section Leaders, then you fear these guys - you fear them like you fear God. These guys were untouchable.

Our function at 7 SAI at that time was riot control. We were sent to riot control because we had a lot of problems with that at that stage. And policing the townships. After section Leaders we had just got back from pass and they said that they needed us at Port Elizabeth - Queenstown - East London - all around there. We just got back there, and we had a quick riot course - a week's riot training. We had just been dealt into platoons as well - there's a story for every day of the army - isn't there?

I can remember one situation on section leaders - we were on a three-day vasbyt [endurance route march] survival course, and route marching with the compass, and you had to find the rendezvous point and all that or you didn't get your chow. You had an incentive to find your rendezvous point. Each guy had a turn to be section leader for the experience. I was in the same section as my bother - we were together all the time, all the way through. We were 1IC and 2IC of a section as well, which was great. But saying that, my brother and I also have our moments. That's how it goes. What happened at this stage was that we were on this march and we got lost all the time. When we went out initially we had so much kit on. I remember before we were sent out, the colonel had come up and the sergeant major. The sergeant major's son - his laaitjie - was with me in section leaders. He had been at infantry school, and during some part of infantry school training - the MAG training or whatever - somehow he had got into a ruckus with a corporal and the corporal hit him in the face with the LMG and damaged his face and actually damaged a lot of nerves in his face. He's had ops at 1 Mil and he'd come back and they didn't send him back to Infantry School again. They sent him on to section leaders. Now his old man was the RSM at 7 SAI, so he was naafi. He didn't give a shit. He was dragging his arse and it got the rest of us into a lot of shit as well. They knew it was Steenekamp's laaitjie so they took it a bit easy. They would come up to see how things were going. I can remember him standing there looking in shock because we were like skeletons. We had been run ragged day in day out, night in night out all the time by these guys, and the food we were getting was so shit. We had no bread, and we had nothing - we always had crap.

When we were at Midumbu, doing section leaders on the Rhodesian border - that as quite a distance from Palaborwa - they used to have a lot of bases closer. It was called Letaba Ranch. I think 32 Battalion and the recces were there at that time, so we couldn't use it, so we were up at Madimbu. When we were up there doing this survival course. Before we went out we were given this map case, the radio etc and we could hardly move. Our Lieutenant on Section leaders, Lt Venter - arsehole of note - he looked like Naas Botha, but he had whiter hair. He detested us. (The feelings were mutual!) He detested souties, and I think the fact that we were there, he really detested us. He would call you over to him; `Hier, kommehiersou!!' [`Here. Come here!'] I ran over to him. I can't remember what the reason was. I went over and you have to halt and salute, and I just about overbalance. He sent me back, and I had to come back and do it again, same thing. He says; `You're fucking useless. Go back. Come back and do it again.' I managed to stay this time, without rocking, because of all this kit weighing me down. I did it right. He said; `Right. Omkeer en vokoff! [`About turn and fuck off!'] Get down on your stomach and crawl back, leopard crawl.' Now I couldn't actually touch the ground because I had the radio and everything on the front here, and I was like a tortoise on its back. I couldn't crawl. I looked like an idiot. He must have been laughing at me. [It wouldn't have done the radio much good?] They didn't think about that. They couldn't have cared less.

We had a guy who shot himself on section leaders as well. It was really intense training and intense - they were at you all the time. It was basically to see if they could crack you. They wanted to crack you and get as many guys off as they needed to. That was it. You stayed. You stuck it out. On Sunday morning we used to wake up and then it used to be normal inspection. What we used to have to do there - first thing in the morning when you got up, you would have to put on `black is beautiful' cammo - full `black is beautiful', not stripes. So your browns and your web belt and everything was covered in the shit. So you had to be fully cammoed, rifle clean, overalls clean, and web belt clean, boots polished and all that shit. Then they would come and do inspection. `Hoekom is jou vokken overalls wet?' [`Why are your fucken overalls wet?] `You've got oliphante [elephants] in your rifle.' So everybody, before 6 o'clock we were down and getting an opvok. Then we would get up and go for breakfast. You would be so fucked up already that you wouldn't be able to chow. You are sweating into your food. You couldn't eat. By the end of the day, after training, your overall was so caked in mud and sweat and dust and everything. You had to scrub that clean and then the black is beautiful was all around the neck. You couldn't get that off. Black is beautiful used to come in tubes, and you used to gooi [throw] it in your doiby or your staaldak and you would mix it with water, and put it on. (I've still got two tubes full at home. I wouldn't touch the shit.)

You had to get up - it was a daily routine that we would have to go through every day. You would sit there thinking; `Is my rifle clean?' I'll just check. We were living in trenches then. We had to dig trenches. When we got there, there were tents, and we thought; `Hey, fuck! This isn't too bad. They were on concrete slabs. We were in those tents for a week. Not even a week. Four days we were in those tents. Then they came; `Right. Fucken slaan af.' [`Strike camp'] The tents into the store. And we thought; `And now?' This was on a Sunday. We had to get used to it. The ground was as hard as rock - concrete. The first time we started digging we tune them; `Hey, its fucken Sunday. We are not supposed to be working.' And all that sort of thing. `We're supposed to be on day off.'

We dug - we probably all got about this (***) far down eventually - a six foot by four foot trench. Then they tuned; `Los it. You'll sleep in that for the night, and tomorrow you'll dig a new trench somewhere else because those are kak.' We thought; `Okay. We'll do this.' We thought it was the biggest rondvok going. It chowed your wrists - that hard ground. It was back-breaking work. When you are under fire it might be different - like then you would dig holes in concrete. You would do it. But when you're just digging it for the hell of it, you think twice about it.

Anyway, that night - what we had in Madimbu was tons of scorpions, we had tons of centipedes - the ones that chow you - that bite you. They were big bastards - you could cut the thing in half, and the one half used to run this way and the other half used to run that way, and this one would bite you on the arse. They were crap things. We knew that the small scorpions were dangerous. The big ones - it was `Okay. Don't let it bite you.' Red Roman spiders were big bastard things. They were like tarantulas. They had jaws like the creature in the movie `Predator' - the jaws are exactly the same as that. They are probably taken from that creature. The guys used to fight them; they would take a Red Roman and chuck it in the fire bucket, and a scorpion and they would let them raut [fight]. The Red Roman spider used to chow the scorpion. It would chow it fucked up. I can remember getting into my trench this night. They had said; `You sleep in your trench. If you get out of your trench, we'll fucken kla you aan. [charge you]. You don't get out of your trench. You sleep in it.' It was like sleeping in a grave. You would feel claustrophobic. You just wanted to get out of there.

There were some little holes in the side of the trench walls, and I felt uncomfortable about this. Spiders or scorpions might come out of them. I stuffed my socks into them to block them.

I can remember I could feel the sand falling on my sleeping bag. I thought; `Where's that coming from?' I put the torch on and I could see the sand falling out of this hole, and the socks were coming out. I didn't know whether I should jump out - are these guys going to kla me aan, [charge me] or whatever. The socks pushed out and there were spiders in there, so I jumped out. I didn't give a shit what they would do; I was not sleeping in there. I slept on the top. They came around the next day, and they said; `Right. If any of you were sleeping on top - if we catch you from now on sleeping on top.' They said that we had to get used to it for if we were being mortared or something like that, we would have to get used to being under ground. The next days they moved us and said that we were going to sleep somewhere else. We had to dig a trench in a V-formation, so that we had three arcs of fire from the trench. I didn't have a partner, because we were one guy short. The laaitie that I mentioned. We dug the new trenches. I dug mine; my boet and my buddy - I don't know how they had teamed up for some reason together - they were together - they dug their trench. Suddenly I got this Steenekamp's laaitie (RSM's son). They sent him along. They said; `Right. He is your partner. He must dig next to you.' He didn't give a shit this ouk! He slung a hammock up in a tree, and he was going to doss there. I said; `Hey, China! You don't know these ous.' I didn't know that he was the RSM's laaitie. He was a big Afrikaans laaitjie, but a good ou - mellow. I said; `You aren't going to do that. These ous are going to cut your balls off if they catch you sleeping in a hammock. You better graf [dig], hey!' I didn't know. I used to pick up shit from it as well.

After all the initial shit, when these guys eventually came up to come and see how things were going, they skrikked [were shocked] because we were so thin. I could hear him saying to the instructors; `What the fuck's going on here?. These guys look like fucking prisoners of war. They don't look like soldiers. They look fucking starving. Are you feeding these people or what? They're fucking maer [scrawny]' I could hear him shitting the ou out, because we were too fucking skinny. I was probably the fittest I'd ever been in my life. We were 98% fit when we had finished that course. When I went into the army I was about 69 kg, and I put on 10 kgs while I was in the army. I came out and I was 78kg, and I'm 6 foot tall. I must have been 65Kg then. Or even less - I was really skinny. They said; `No. You've got to feed these ous.' The next day we had chow out there. We were getting bully beef and we were getting bread and everything else. It was grand! Porridge in the mornings. We used to get rusks and very light lunches, and that was it. Back on to training. The sergeant in whose platoon I was initially at Section Leaders - Sgt. Hatting - he took us for Mag lesings and evaluations. He hated me, this ouk. We hated each other - it was just a karma thing. My brother seemed to get on all right with him. My brother didn't give a shit! I remember we came back from town one day after having gone to get shaving cream on a day pass, and we came back in and got off the truck, and we were walking back down to our bivvies, and the sergeant was coming up. Boom! You strek. [brace] My boet had a rifle magazine in his hands. One of us used to have a magazine with rounds when we went into town. He saluted the sergeant. The sergeant went; `What?' He had steam coming out of his ears. `What was that?' He didn't actually do anything more to my brother. I thought he was going to get his balls kicked off for that, but he was okay.

I remember Mag evaluation. He used to lie against this tree - counting this ouk that ouk? - after the training. You used to stand there in the class room, a square area of gravel sand; `Right. Reguit lyn. [straight line] Two ous, you've got a magger and a number two. When I blow the whistle, you dive ...' - and from where we were we just said; `Not a chance. That's impossible. We're not going to dive to there.' The mag was right there, and the number two magger was there, and we thought; `There's no way we are going to get there.' The first time you take a couple of steps and you dive to the Mag. I pick the mag up - around the bush - and you run until you can't pick it up anymore. You come back and he tunes you; `Right. Now you fucken dive to where the Mag's lying.' You made it. You did actually make it. You got there, and you would do the whole drill. `Wissel' [`Change!'] and you would change over, pull him out. `Do it, do it, do it!' Go forward, change again. When you were finished you had this like bullet proof layers of sand caked with sweat. You were burned out. You were really flaked out after all that.

During evaluation, I remember he called me up, and I went up to him and I halted. By then it was a personal thing. He said; `Vok off terug en doen did weer, sout-etter' [`Fuck off back and do it again, lime-cum'] - or whatever. I stood there and I was actually going to kick him in the fucken face, just kick his head against the tree, and hope he died. I hated him that much. He was always there. Through all the evaluations he was always there. Every time he would always have a go at me. He always picked on me. He chucked a smoke grenade in my pack one day because we were doing live fire and movement. We practised this for hours; dry fire and movement. All the time. Up and down. Pow pow pow! You had to scream like this; `Pow pow pow!' Whoever didn't, they used to take back - leave your rifle behind, pick up two rocks and you would run, and go down. They used to fuck you up all the time.

When we actually got to do it with live ammo - obviously they wanted the guys sharp; they didn't want anyone shooting any of their buddies. Then they would take you out into a section of bush. You've got a couple of pondokkies or whatever in the background there which is your target - where you are going to clear. You have your extended line, and then you have your fire and movement. When you go down into a kneeling position for cover. You don't see where the other guys are going to. Then you get up and you call them, and he runs. You go through - shoot. This guy next to me; Charles Day or something. He kept running across. Now we were going in a straight line and there was nothing obstructing my line of advance, and he kept coming across because there are trees along here, and he keeps cutting across. And every time he cuts across I'm taking shots; `Who is that man? He keeps running across in front of me.' He runs up behind me and booted me in the pack the first time and said; `Go that way.' I said; `Why should I change my course. He should go that way around the tree. Why must I keep changing my course to get out of his way, when he's running in front of my gun?' I had to keep stopping because I was going to shoot this ou in the back. Then I got up and I moved the next time, and then suddenly [noise] in my pack. `What the fuck's that?' He's chucked a smoke grenade in my pack. He was always there - all the time, getting at me. Even when we went to the shooting range when we had done this fire and movement. We did a whole sequence of things. We used the RPG, we used the LMG we used the rifle grenades. We'd done a shit-load of that the whole day - `snotneus' [grenade launcher] and all that. The RPG was excellent, hey. You must see that thing when it shoots. It was brilliant. They had an old bakkie [pick up/utility vehicle] at the bottom there - shoot - [noise] and its gone. It hits, and there's a silence for like two or three seconds; just a white shockwave. `Wow! That was cool.' It was a psychological weapon as well - the `snotneus' and the RPG both the same - with armour it's a different story; its effective then, because its burning a lot of metal to have a lot of shrapnel going around as well. We shot a brick building with it, and it blew a hole like this through the brickwork, and spat a couple of bits of brick out the back. It could maybe have blinded a couple of guys. It was just a little hole in the brickwork - I was very surprised to see that that was its effectiveness after the explosion that it caused. Then I heard them talking about psychological weapons. The sound of it itself would scare you shitless, but it was not that effective, unless its against armour. With armour there's a big difference. The `snotneus' was the same. It wasn't very accurate. You see all these movies where these guys fire a 40mm grenade launcher and it blows the shit out of everything. Its not like that at all, hey. The shrapnel is dangerous - whinngs and zizzes everywhere. You've got to really watch out. I suppose that for room clearing or shooting it into a vehicle or something, you'd probably do all right. It doesn't have this massive explosion like in the `A-team' or the other bullshit things. Once you've seen things like that first hand, then when you see films you are very critical because it is not reality. There's no A-bomb effect.

Something that I'm sorry about is that I didn't take any pictures on section leaders because we were too shit scared to take any snaps on section leaders in case they caught you. Some of the guys must have done, but we were really scared of these ous. We didn't want to piss them off for one second because you knew what it would cost you. An opvok with those guys wasn't fun. Section Leaders was different. It wasn't like basics where you could; `Hey, guys. Pull together and do this.' You couldn't take the piss out of these guys. If they saw that you were cottoning onto the idea of doing it slowly, they would change it and you would be doing something else. They knew their stuff.

We got back into the base and all the guys wanted to chill out, but they know that if you sit your muscles are going to cramp up and you are not going to be able to move. You sit there and they come along; `Hey. Wat maark julle? Kom aan. Tree aan in die pad!' We must go and eat lunch, and they double-time drill us. `Hey, fuck off! We've just run 25 k's.' They didn't give a shit, but it was because they didn't want you cramping up or anything, and not being able to move the next day, so they got you moving again. All the guys had blisters so they would come around with methyalate and inject all the ous with blisters.

I don't know why it didn't effect my boet - why he wasn't chucked off at that stage. He had it in his character anyway, and he must have been 23 - I was 21, and he's two years older than me. They had different evaluations throughout for different things; you had platoon competitions which were again for psychological things with carrying buckets of water, emptying so many buckets out - different things to effect you.

After we had done the patrol we were doing the three-day vasbyt. The first night that we were out, it pissed down with rain. In Midumbu it rained! The water was this deep on the ground. Initially we managed to find some dry wood and we used a tin of polish to get a fire going. Everyone was sleeping around this massive fire that we had made. This was a training area in the bush, but we didn't give a shit. We just wanted to get warm. We had all the kit, but it was wet and heavy. We were all sleeping there with our feet in towards the fire, and then it started raining again. It must have been at about half past one at night that it started raining again, and it became a thunder storm. The only reason that I woke up was because the water was so deep where we were lying - it was up to here. Your sleeping bag is going like this. Wake up. You have your sleeping bag hood on, and you think; `No, shit! Its pissing down. Then the lightning strikes - probably only about 50 m away from where we were. It hit a tree and smashed this tree. Everyone thought; `To fuck with this.' There were only building shot out for training purposes around there - old brick farm houses that had been shot to shit around the area. We all got up and legged it for this. There was no roof or anything - we just used the walls for cover, and we actually slept standing up in our sleeping bags, lying against the wall with your knees bent. I remember I the morning we thought; `Its light now. We must move.' My legs had been in that position for so long that I could hardly walk. My knees were locked. It took us quite a while to dry out. The funny thing was that we were sitting there thinking; `Fuck! This kit is heavy.' We wanted a fire again. One of the guys, when he was sleeping at night; he had his jumper boots on - like the paras boots, and from sleeping with his boots to the fire, the soles had actually come off, so when he stood up, the soles stayed behind, so he only had the tops of his boots. Those things must really have been shitly made. The soles stayed there - it was comical - it looked as though he was wearing slippers.

We all started cutting up bits of wood, and some of the guys started throwing their blankets on the fire, and cutting bits off their sleeping bag covers and throwing the in the fire. We were all standing there, and then the radio crackles: `Een drie charlie' [One Three Charlie] or whatever out call sign was. They were calling us on the radio. We thought `Shit!' `Waar is julle nou? Where are you now?' `Err, sersant, [Sergeant] we're walking along there ...' Lying like shit. `Jy praat vokken kak. Ek staan hier met die binoculars. [`You're talking shit! I'm looking at you through my binoculars.] I'm looking at you bastards.' You just see the ous grab their stuff and run into the bush in different ways. We thought that we had got away from the ou, but he was sitting there looking through his binoculars at us. The ous just tore into the bush. We got back together eventually.

There was very low cloud that day, and we were trapping. We got lost. We must have been right where the river was on the border. They said; `Where are you now?' We said; `We don't know. We're lost.' We couldn't get a bearing or whatever the case. They said; `Shoot a flare and we'll give you your position.' All right. We shoot a flare off. `Did you see it?' `No, we didn't see the flare.' We shoot another flare. [My recollection was that the area was generally flat with occasional spitskoppe [rock outcrops]. The flare should have gone way above all that?] Yes, but there was really low cloud. It was more like mist hanging there, so anything going through there - they wouldn't have seen anyway. They said; `No. We can't see it. Just try and fine your bearing.' We could hear sheep bleating. By this stage we were ready to kill sheep to eat. We were starving because we had missed the first night's rendezvous point. We were starving. You can't actually imagine that in three days you can get so hungry that you would eat bark off a tree. This is how bad it can get, especially when you are moving all the time - and when we were undernourished beforehand. You had nothing to back you up. We were walking along and the RSM's youngster - Stenekamp - we were walking up a koppie. It was like one of these things from God. He was walking along and this little rabbit jumped out and he stepped on it. He didn't have to chase it or anything - he just stepped on it, and broke its neck. We looked at it and we thought; `No, we can't eat that!' It was a baby rabbit. There wouldn't have been anything left of it once we had skinned it. We thought; Oh, shit. Lets just leave it.' We carried on walking. But this time the guys were botching. The wood that we had burned - it was in our clothes now - it was that green shit that is actually poisonous. The guys were feeling nauseas. We had this other English guy, Bagley, and he was bitching because he had a rash. `Aw, shut up!' Everyone was starting to crack now. We were trying to keep it together. We were sitting down to take a break now. We were doing this on a regular basis. The first time that we had done this we were walking at night, and Stenekamp's youngster had buddies in the kitchen, so he used to get milk and milo - it was like gold. We camped down probably at about half past nine at night. We said that we would take a break for about an hour and then we would keep trapping. We were supposed to be moving all night. We take a break now, and we all take our fire buckets (mugs) and make a little gat in the ground, and make a fire - you can't see it - and boil your water, and we all had a lekker [nice] cup of milo. It was really grand. The ous munched what was left of the milo out of the tin. It was; `Hey, you've had two fucken spoons. I've fucken only had one spoon.' You see how bad people get. We were sitting there blown out. Everyone was sitting there and people started to fall asleep. We actually did - the whole lot of us. The section went to sleep sitting there, and then there was this scream of a noise - Waaaaaah!! Everyone jumped up and was shitting themselves. We had one magazine with five rounds in it which was pinned - a safely magazine. I case we walked into - there was all sorts of wildlife out there. We thought; `What the hell was that?' We were all sitting there listening. Waaah! It was jackals crying at night. That's an eerie sound. Its scary. We had guns but no bullets, and we were standing there like this. You can't do anything. We thought; `Hey. Lets get up and leg it.' All the basic training comes into play - ghost walking and all this. Push a bush out of the way at night and all that sort of shit. Not my boet, hey! We were walking and I was walking behind him. He pushes this fucken branch in, and its this thorn tree, and he fucken lets it go, and it whacks me straight in the chops. Pop! `Ow!' I just saw sparks. `Ow! You bastard!' `Aw, don't be a baby, man!' I got him back. I flung them back in his face, and smacked him in the lip.

After that we sat down at one stage - you always made sure that you had your own rifle. Myself, my brother and Mark had all sat down and put our rifles down, and we got up to start moving again. My brother picked up a rifle, we all picked up the rifles, and we moved. We were falling in bush and rock and all sorts of shit. It was dark at night. You can't see anything. My brother lost it! He took the rifle by the barrel and he flings it down the koppie - clang clang clang - he picks it up again and he flings it down again. In the morning we wake up, and Mark picks up his rifle and says; `Oh, fuck! My sights are flat.' My brother had picked up Mark's rifle by mistake and he was throwing this thing down the mountain. The thing was stuffed. We just said that he fell in the rocks and the sights - the peep sight where the pin is - that was flattened a bit. They fixed it up.

We were trapping and we get to the next RV. They give you three tins between you - unlabelled. Pick a tin out of the box. The idea is to share the stuff and get it together to share with your buddies. I got carnation (evaporated) milk. We got potatoes in water and `Owambo piele' [tinned sausages] or pickled fish. I detested pickled fish. I couldn't eat it. I couldn't swallow it if I was dying of starvation. We had our chow that night, and we go on the next day. We got caught out! This guy; Rooier - a red head guys - an English speaking guy - was section leader at the time, and my brother was helping out with the compass reading. It just happened as my brother had the compass - we were up close towards the sand road, and this Gharrie [land rover] flies past and fucken nails the brakes on, and out jumps the sergeant. He says; `Who is the section leader?' So Rooier says; `I am!' He says; `Where is your compass?' My boet is standing there with the compass. He said: `Oh? Fucking around? Gyppoing? [Cheating?] Right! You run behind the Gharrie all the way back to the base. Then you can come back and find your troeps.' He made them run all the way back to the base, and then run all the way back to come and find us again.

This night we had a couple of batteries and I was listening to the radio comms. They said to us specifically that night; `If you are close to the base, bed down where you are, and carry on in the morning. Don't come in to the base. DON'T COME IN TO THE BASE!' I'm section leader now. My brother is older than me. Everyone is sitting around. We can hear the gennies [generators] pup-put-put in the background. My boet said; `Fuck this! Lets sneak into base. We go and sleep in the tent there and we come out early in the morning. I said; `What is wrong with you. What do you think? Fucken forget it. You're going to land me in the shit. Stop.' Me and my boet nearly had a raut [fight] because of this; `Aw, don't be a baby!' What we did was we threw the batteries on the bush. We were going to say that the batteries were flat, and we were going into base. We snuck into base. There were no secretaries on anything. This was the Midimbu training base. They had a tent there that was full of mattresses that they had taken off us and the beds. We went in there and we were all crashing on the mattresses. We were all fucken dosing [sleeping]. Of course, half past seven in the morning - we should have been gone at four o'clock. At half past seven in the morning the tent seil [flap] is pulled aside, and there is this one-liner. `Lieutenant. Lieutenant.' He calls the Lieutenant, and we're sitting there. We're all `What? Ooh! Wake up.' We were shitting ourselves now. `Get up.'

The Lieutenant comes out of the mess. The corporal ran up there and went and split on us. He shouts down to us; `Waar is daai seksie leier?' [`Where is the section leader?'] I said to my boet; `You see, you fucker! Now I'm in the shit for this.' I was annoyed. `Waar's daai seksie leier?' [`Where is the section leader?'] This guy hated me as it was. This Lieutenant just had this hatred for me. I thought; `Here we go!' I ran over there. `Lieutenant?' `Wat vokken maak julle hier?' [`What the fuck are you doing here?'] I said; `Well, Lieutenant. We were pretty close to the base last night. We lost comms and we had no batteries left, and we haven't had food for two days. We came in for the guys to rest and we were going to leave again this morning.' `KAK! KAK! Jy praat kak!' [`You talk shit!'] By this time all the guys are tree'd aan [fallen in]. He says; `Kry jou vokken pale.' [`Get your fucken poles.'] There was a big pile of gum telephone poles there - especially designed for us.' He says; `Each of you get a pole.' So you have one of these fucken telephone poles each. `Daar gat julle!' There we go. We run around the base - up and down. Now my buddy at this time - Mark - this was getting close to the end of section leaders and he was getting pissed off. He thought; `Fuck this!' He just throws it down and started walking. We thought; `Oh, shut!' The Lieutenant shouted at him; `You vokken smittie (?) loop. Vokken loop!' [`Fucken walk!] He said; `Aw, fuck you!' He just carried on walking,. I though that he was going to get into shit for it, but he didn't actually. After all that drama they said to us; `Tree aan.' He says to us; `As julle vokken kos wil he, ...' [`If you want fucken food ...']. He had brought out a big tin of sweet corn, but it was sour. You could taste that it was sour. `Eet!' [Eat!] We had to eat this fucken sweet corn that was sour. Then we went back out again. It was three days of hell. You can't believe that you can experience so much shit in three days.

The best thing about it was probably the first day when we went out and we had Major Saunders and Colonel Swanepoel and Sergeant Major Steenkamp - the RSM. He was there as well. When we were walking I had the radio for the first stage, as the first section leader. They were calling on the radio and I kept answering him saying; `Stuur! [Send] We are listening.' The Lieut was going `Vokken antwoord die dink.' [`Fucken answer the thing!] Vokken this, Vokken that! `Kry jou seine reg' [`Get your signal right!'] and all this shit. At the same time the colonel and the major were sitting in the ops room, and they could hear everything that I was saying. Eventually they said; `Luister, Lieutenant. Gaan klim 'n vokken boom of iets. Jou vokken sein is swak.' [`Listen, Lieutenant. Go and climb a tree or something. Your signal is weak!'] They shat him out; they said; `Your fucken signal is shit. The ou's signals are fine. We can hear him fine.' `Yes!!' What a lekker skop [kick] in the balls from the major. I was so glad when I heard that.

He carried on after that. We were carrying the radio by the lead, and we were swinging the handset around. He was going on and on, and the thing was spinning around and we weren't even listening. He wanted to come and get us. It was funny.

I got wholesomely lost that first stage out there. I thought; `Hey, I can see the ou's footprints. Tracker!' I followed the footprints and we got to the RV just from tracking because I was shot with a compass. It was quite an experience. You know what guys are like. There were two guys that shared a trench together; Grimshaw and Cost. Cost was a fit bastard - really fit. Grimshaw was a shoemaker or something in civvy street - an unusual guy. Cost was a marathon runner and he was a fit guy, but he didn't have the psyche for section leader. He was too weak a character, as we found out later, but he was fit. Grimshaw had got a parcel a couple of weeks before we went out, and he had stashed a tin of tuna in is kit, and he was sitting there against a tree eating this tuna and everyone was starving. No one was going to beg off the guy and ask him to share. It was his kit. He ate this fucken tin of tuna, and Cost was sitting there like a dog slavering - watching him. This was his buddy. After he had eaten it, he says to him - I can't remember what his first name was - `Do you want to lick the tin out?' He took the tin and he was actually eating the oil out of it. I thought; `What kind of arsehole are you? You give your buddy a spoonful.'

The only thing that we found that we still had in our bag was a packet of Kool-Aid - we were eating this and we were all walking along with red fingers; like E.T. with these red fingers. It was funny. There are loads of funny things that you can think back on, but it wasn't funny at the time. We were actually hallucinating. We were walking along there, and we were dreaming of donuts, and this was only after three days. I suppose you get to the stage where you've past it, but we were pretty hungry before that whole thing started anyway.

The guy who shot himself - that was another experience. He wanted to get off, but they used to wait for the keuraads or whatever before they would kick anybody off. Apparently he had asked about going off, and then on Sunday morning. After church parade they asked us to collect wood for a braai. Everybody was in their browns. We were only allowed to wear our browns on Sundays. The rest of the time we wore overalls for training. What happened was Staff Sergeant Erasmus who was the biggest fucker on two legs. He calls the guys and said; `You've been fucking around.' This is Sunday morning. He gives these ous a mean opvok; they're flipping Samil tyres and in this fucken mud-pool and all this shit, and the ous fucken lost it. We were picking up firewood and chilling out. Pow! We heard this shot, and we think; `What the fuck!? Some ou has nicked rounds from the shooting range. We're in shit now. We're going to get fucked up big time.' If anyone stepped out of line, we all got it. Shit! Next minute we say PFs running down into the bush. This ou had taken his rifle, bent over and shot himself through the stomach. He shot his spleen out. They were panicking! They were white! They had shat themselves. I watched them carry him up on the stretcher, and there was this black meat hanging out of his back. I thought; `Fucken hell! I hope the guy survives anyway.' We had an airstrip not far from there. That ou lay on that stretcher for two and a half hours before they called in a casevac. I don't know if they were hoping that he would peg. Two and a half hours before they casevaced him out of there. `Here! Fuck you, China!' He shot himself, so they probably looked on it as weakness or whatever the case, I don't know. I don't know whether they were hoping that he would peg so he couldn't say anything about it. I remember that ou got four year extra duties. Four years extra duties for that. We thought; `Fucken hell! I don't want to be that ou lying on that thing.' We saw the Unimog. We watched. It was there for two hours before they moved that guy. How he didn't die, I don't know. He didn't mean business. He obviously wanted off. Whether he thought it wouldn't hurt himself as much to shoot himself in the stomach. He probably didn't want to kill himself. He just wanted off. It was a pretty stupid thing to do anyway.

There was a guy who I think shot himself in basics as well.

The pressure there - fucken hell! After that they did lighten up a bit, but then it was piled back on straight away. I can remember that two weeks before the end I thought; `Fuck this! I've had enough.' I had never had any problems with it. I had just gone along with it, but then I thought; `Fuck it! Its just not worth it. This pressure.' I went to our Sergeant - Sergeant Badenhorst, and I said to him; `Fuck it. That's it. I've had enough. I want off here.' He said; `Fuck off! You're not going. Two weeks left.'

The best thing of all about it was when the Sergeant came down and said; `Staan op, korporaals!' [`Stand up, corporals.'] That was it. That was when it set in. You think; `Fuck! Is this what it was for?' Basically how we were pulled into it initially was the fact that we would be paid more money, we would have more status than the other guys, we would eat in the mess. Lance-corporals, yes! They had a separate place for us to chow. I only found this out when I went back to 7 SAI for bondelsport that one time. I went back there to go and chow, and I walked into the mess. I thought; `Hey, fuck! This is larney.' There were flowers and all that sort of shit, so I went and sat with the troops. I was sitting there chowing, and the staff sergeant came in there. He says; `Wat maak jy, korporaal?' [`What are you doing, corporal?'] I thought; `Fuck! And now?' I said to him; `What do you mean?' He went on about `you living here with the troops.' I thought; `Fuck. I've been in the bush with these ous for months now. They're buddies.' There was no one else in the corporal's mess. I had to sit there on my own with these flowers and juice and all that sort of shit. It was strange - unexpected. That's what the guys in base were getting all the time, but we weren't in base.

The finishing parade was quite grand. They threw a lekker party for us. They had done the mess out, and they had put a theme in there. We had chow and everything laid on - two beers and that was all. We were only ever allowed two beers, and only after six weeks. I wasn't even drinking then, so I used to give my tickets to other ous. We were never ever allowed more than two beers. That was it. Even after section leaders, when we got our rank that night. My buddy Mark got his exemption. They weren't even going to give him his rank. Our corporal - Corporal Badenhorst - he actually got his rank the same time that we finished - he made a sergeant again. He called Mark aside and he was telling him that they were not going to give him his rank because he had been exempted. `What?' `Don't worry,' he says. `I'll get it sorted for you.' He got his rank, so when he got out after six months, he was a corporal on civvy street. He had to do camps after that. To see the ou packing his gear, we thought; `Fuck!" Lekker for the guy, but you also think; `Fuck! You lucky bastard. You're out of here.'

After that, when we came back, we were dealt in the section leaders. They don't put you back in the same platoons because obviously, if you came in to basics with the guys, they won't respect your rank and they won't respect you, so there's no point. We were put into Alpha Company. This goes back to basics where Alpha Company had a corporal called Corporal Drake. He was a small little guy. If Lieutenant Laing was the Lieutenant, then this corporal was the corporal that they talked about being a son-of-a-bitch that you never wanted to come across. I remember as a Roof drilling in our lines - Oscar Lines - walking up to the guardroom to go and phone or something, and this ou was walking along. I said to my buddy; `Just be skerp [sharp] here because this ou is a bastard. If he can nail you, he will nail you straight away.' `Vokken wat maak julle troepe? Jou moet you vokken hande vokken shouer-hoogte vokken kry.' [`What the fuck are you doing, troops. You must get your fucken arms fucken shoulder high!'] Straight away he was into us. `Kom hiersou. Vokken staan op aandag.' [`Come here. Fucken stand to attention.'] He kakked us out. What the fuck is this about? We were always paraat anyway. I never liked the ou from then. What happens? After fucken section leaders - dealing the ous into platoons. I was sitting there thinking; `Nooit!' My boet and myself and the three other ous left

Then they called me as well - Corporal Crozier - to Alpha Company Platoon Three. I thought; `Fucken, no! Not this guy.' I was glad to be with my brother, anyway.

In section leaders on that day when we went round and they came around and said; `Anyone who doesn't want to be here, step forward.' This buddy of ours, Derek - he stepped forward. We said to him; `Don't be a doos. [Cunt] Stay. We're all here. Stick it out together. We'll get through it together. `Nooit!' [`No way!] It wasn't for him. It wasn't; he's not that kind of guy. He steps forward. This guy walks down the road past the bungalows and he's got this white safari suit on, so we didn't recognise the guy. This is the colonel. It gets a bit difficult because it was Colonel Swanepoel and Major Saunders - sometimes you think of Colonel Saunders, like in `Kentucky Fried Chicken'. He comes trapping down there and all the guys are lined up and fallen in in their platoons now. The colonel goes along there, and he says to him; `Reg manne. Wat makeer? What's your problem. Why don't you want to be here?' `Well, I'd prefer top be a driver, colonel.' `Ja? Korporaal, hom hiersou. Write this ou's name down. This ou will be a fucken rifleman until he klaars out of this company. That's it. Final.' This ou must have had balls this big, because he says to the colonel; `What's your problem?' He's an English guy. `Colonel, my dad has a couple of connections in Pretoria and he's organised me a transfer there!' Fucken Hell!! The ou nearly had a fucken seizure. `He's organised me a transfer there to Pretoria.' `Wat? Jou vokken ...' The ou went ballistic. `You'll fucken stay here until the day you finish up. You won't go anywhere. You'll be a fucken rifleman. I'll make sure of it. You don't come here and tell me you're going to get a transfer off my base.' He blew a gasket. The ous were standing there in shock, that a bloke could actually come out with this. Derek had just said that he didn't want to be there, and he would prefer to be a rifleman, and we was just moved back to base. Some guys said that they wanted to be drivers - any excuse. You just needed to say; `I'm not up for this shit.' That was it,. It was quite comical to see. We sukkeled [struggled]- we really kakkaed. We really really shat. It was big time shit!

Through the middle of it we got a bout of major gastro. I think that what had happened was that one of the chefs had got the moer [angry] in with someone and poured brasso in the food. Everyone had food poisoning big time. When you were training, to sick report on section leaders, you had to pack up all you kit, you had to pack up your bed, your pis-vel - everything, your kas and everything. You had to take your kas up to the store and put it in before you could sick report, which was a deterrent for anyone to sick report if you felt like a kotch or something like that. We were drilling, and we used to drill double-time all the time. If you made a mistake it was `rifle out there on the front of the fingers'. That morning we were drilling, and I said; `Sergeant, I'm going to have to tree out here because I'm going to shit my pants. I am nit well.' I had gyppos bad. I really had it bad. I had to pack all my stuff, sleep it up by myself to the fucken store, lock it up, and then go and sick report. I was in hospital for a week there. They were taking stool samples; the base was quarantined, because they thought there was some major epidemic because a lot of ous were in the hospital. It was dry toast and black tea for a week and a half. I must have lost a moer of a lot of weight. I was weak when I came out of there, I remember. I had lost that amount of energy. Who do I bump into? Who was in the sick bay? Scotty Arnold, the guy who was in basics with us. `Eee, howzit Eckie? I'm fucken sick, hey!' I could hardly move. I was floored.

I can remember waking up the first morning there, and looking. `What a fucken mess.' It looked as if a bomb had gone off over this bed. He had clothes everywhere and a pile of shit under his bed. Mark, my buddy, he had also got it, and he's come in as well. We were lying there, and we thought; `No, this is kak.' The Sister or Lieutenant or whatever Medic came in there, and she said; `Its a visiting day tomorrow. People whose parents stay in the area can come and visit. You must keep the place clean.' We were bed-ridden, really. Scotty! We said; `You'd better speak to that ou, Lieutenant.' `Hey, ou's!?' He got all upset because we said that his bed was a shambles, and its pissing us off. He was highly upset about this.

Scotty he could hear you unwrapping a sweet wrapper at a hundred paced - he was sharp as a shit-house rat. He could hear anything. You would wait until about twelve o'clock at night to open a piece of chocolate from home to chow.' Scotty would be up there; `Hey, how's a piece? How's a section?' He was there.

One day my boet came in. We were filling our water bottles, and we got some of that Game cool drink mix from home. We were putting that in our water bottles. We had no sooner started putting this in, and Scotty was there. The next day my boet thought; `Fuck. He's had enough of this; " Hows's a sip? How's a section?" My brother pissed in his water bottle, with the water, and he sprinkled some Game powder around the lid. He saw Scotty coming there; `Hey. Come on, hey, China? How's a sip?' My boet says; `Hey, fuck it! Do you mind if I have a drink first before you ...?' He says; `All right.' My boet says; `here!' and he fucken gulps the stuff. He says; `This doesn't taste like Clifton, china. Fucken hey?' We were pissing ourselves. A couple of day later we told him, and he was really annoyed. He was highly pissed off. He didn't come back for more for a long time.

Scotty Arnold. He had every story in the book, that ou; `Hey, my parents were attacked by Hells Angels, and my old man's in a wheelchair.' All stories.

After we finished section leaders course we had our passing out parade and we received our rank. It's only recently, now that I've got my own kids, that I've thought about it - my buddy Mark had a wife and kids. He must have been going through some shit. He did used to go to the welfare officer and that, and after a while he decided; `I've got to get out of here because my family need me.' He wasn't getting paid his full amount from work, and his family was struggling to survive really. Being there - he was just my buddy - I didn't think about it. I didn't have a family at that time. I had a girlfriend, but I didn't have a family to worry about. At the same time you never think about what your parents are going through. My parents had three sons in the army at the same time. It must have been hell for them. My younger brother was at home on his own. All his brothers were gone. You don't think about the effect it has on them, or how they deal with it. I never realised until recently what he (Mark) must have been going through - missing his youngster. If I'm away for a week or whatever, I miss my kids. He must have been going through some shit. He never said anything about it. He was that kind of person. He would keep it to himself.

After section leaders when we got our rank and everything, my buddy actually got his exemption for family reasons. He had done section leaders with us, that was the shit part. Obviously he must have had his problems, I mean, thinking about. His family must have been in his mind.


When we were dealt into platoons, we were dealt into platoon 3 with Corporal Drake. He was Afrikaans from Cape Town. He was a good rugby player. He was a good sports man, but as we would say in Afrikaans, he was a `poes'. [cunt] He was nothing better. We went down there. We were fit. All the troeps are in the bungalows and they are wanting to see who the section leaders are. Drake comes out; he doesn't want anyone raining on his parade. He comes out. `Vokken tree aan. Tree aan. Tree aan.' [`Fall in!'] To us he is the platoon sergeant; the ranking boy. We were all standing there all paraat. He walked up to me, and he was a heavy ou; `Is jy 'n poes korporaal? Is jy 'n poes?' [`Are you a cunt, corporal?'] I thought; `What is this ou on about? What's he carrying on for?' So I said; `Nee. No.' He said; `Vok off uit my peleton. Get out of my fucken platoon. I only want poeses for corporals. Fuck off.' We all omtree'd [about turned] and we waaied! [left]

`Hey, kom terug. Kom terug.' He called us back.

We thought; `Fuck! We don't want to be in his platoon either.' We get there and he says; `Right. Get the fire buckets.' The fire buckets are full of sand and full of water as well. He had to take one of each. `Vokken om die caserne. Vyftien sekondes. Daar gat julle!' [`Around the barracks. Fifteen seconds. Ther you go!'] He was making a show of us in front of the troops. We thought; `Shit! Here we go. We've just been through all of this shit, and now we've got to go through it again for this twat.' Like jack flash we were back in a fucken tick. We'd learned by then to bump most of the water out - spill it so that its lighter,. He just filled it up again, and he sent us put again, and he just carried on and on for about an hour and a half, with we just lagged him off every time. Then he said; `Welkom in die peleton. Welkom,' and all that shit. We never liked him.


When we got down to Cathcart and we were deployed in the first week - the first night in fact. We went down to Queenstown initially. There was a base there; an old base, and we had to make the place skerp [sharp] - onderhoud [maintenance] for about a week before we got the place right. It had been a military barracks, but there was a police base there as well. We always got shafted with this shit. We had to clean up all these places. We would just have finished cleaning up the place and we would be deployed somewhere else. We were sent out to Cathcart and we were staying in a boarding house across the road from a girls' school, which was a shit idea to start with. We were staying in this boarding house in amongst the civvies. We got there the first night, and everyone ‘s crashing. At about three o'clock in the morning; Knock knock knock knock! at the door. We were in the front room. There's this knocking on the door. The Lieutie gets up and says; `Yes? What's happening.' `Hey, they've petrol bombed the PEP stores in town.' It was a small one-horse town, and they had petrol bombed the place. We were all feeling naafi. No one wanted to get up and go out. It was too late anyway, but they just wanted our presence there. We were tuning everyone; `Get up! Get up! Staan op! Fucken get your kit. Come. Come!'

This one troep of ours, Ramsden. I said to him; `Come on, Ramsden. Fucken come!' He starts polishing his boots. `What are you doing? Get your boots on! Get your kit, and lets go!' `No, corporal. Got to polish my boots.' He was vaak. [dozey] He used to talk in his sleep all the time. He was a scary ou. Her used to lie there asleep and then suddenly come up those these [Frankenstein-like] deep laughs. Everyone would go; `Hey, Ramsden. Wake up! Wake up!' They were scared of the ou.

We all got down there eventually and we were standing outside, and the tannies [aunties] were all up and giving us tea. It was lekker to have the tea, but the milk was sour. There was shit floating around in it. `Thanks auntie,' and when they weren't looking, we would throw it. We would end up with the shits again. We got back the next day and all the gas masks arrived for riot control. What does this arsehole [Drake] do? `Vokken tree aaan in die pad.' [`Fucken fall in on the road.']This is on civvy street. There was a school across the road with all these kids, and he fucked us up solid for about an hour and a half, with these gas masks on. Okay, there may be a reason for getting you used to it, if you are running or if you are under pressure. Its claustrophobic when you put it on, so you've got to get your body used to it. But when you're breathing heavily it feels as though your chest is going to explode. You are not used to it. He said; `If any one of you take it off you're going to fucken kak', and there we were gasping for breath. This thing was gagging you. You couldn't get it off. Maybe he thought it served a purpose.

Eventually, when we went in there. Initially, the coons didn't want us there. We had stones and bricks thrown and lobbed at us. We used to debus half the section; get four guys down on the road, and the other guys stand up high in the buffel where they could see over the roofs of the shanties, and the other four walked patrol in front. We were trying to win the hearts and minds of the people and all the psychological bullshit stuff. `Here's a ratpack chocolate,' and all that sort of thing. We weren't there to harm, them. We were there to look after them. These missiles were just firing over these shanties. The ous were kakking themselves. This is the first time that you've experienced. You've got a riot helmet on, but that's no good if it hits you on the back or somewhere. You don't know how to retaliate, because the tell you;' `Don't shoot! Don't shoot unless you're shot at, or you are petrol bombed or something like that.' Minimum force! You were carrying a gun, but you think that you might as well have been carrying a bunch of roses. We had full ammo when we were walking. You think; `Fucken hell! What's the point?' I think it worked eventually at the end of the day because we did win them over eventually. They were on our side. You had the bad elements. We knew who they were. We knew who to watch. We arrested a load of guys there who were people's court marshalls and that sort of shit who had necklaced people. We just used to arrest them and take them through to the police station at Cathcart, and they used to process them there. Most of them escaped from the holding cells anyway. We used to throw them in the buffel in the bin at the back. The little bin where you had the fire extinguishers in. We got three of them in one day. Three! `Get in!' Its amazing! The first guy says; `Fucken nooit, hey! [`Fucken, never!] I can't get in there.' But when the other two see the first one in there, they climb in - no problem. They climb in on top of the ou. They must have been like sardines.

We got used to the place and used to the people. We were supposed to work with the cops, but the people didn't like the cops. They didn't like the SAP. They never did. The cops used to come in there and create a lot of shit, and we used to have to bear the brunt of it. I remember the cops drove past one night and they chucked a teargas grenade in our fucken buffel. It was a joke or what? I don't know! We were the fucken hell in. We went back there and we were going to knock their guys blocks off in the charge office. The lootie had to step in there because the whole buffel drove back and went into the charge office, and we were going to moer these ous. They lagged [laughed] it off and got it sorted out, but we didn't see the cops in there after that. Until one night when we went through there with a couple of black cops, who were better to work with, because these guys knew them, and they knew their fucken story, they knew their pain threshold, they knew all this sort of shit. They used to see us white people as softies anyway. They were brilliant actors; they could smokkel [baffle] you - they could bullshit you. Mainly the thing was domestics or things like that. Occasionally it was getting the guys who were involved in people's courts and things like that. I remember we were driving there at about half past one at night, and this black ou is walking up the street holding his head. He was actually holding this part of his skull in over his eye. We stopped. Spotlight on him. We asked; `What's going on? What's the story?' `No, this fucken woman ...' He had had a woman there, right, and they had obviously tried to get into her knickers, and it didn't turn out the way he wanted. He was at his uncle's place. It was a mud pondokkie. He told us that this woman had fucken destroyed his place. We said; `Okay. Take us up there and we'll see what the story is.' We get up there. She had actually - it looked like a tank had shot the place - she had thrown it to the ground. It was rubble, which she had thrown with bricks and rubble - this guys house. He had tried to rape her. She had taken the booze , but she wasn't going for the rest of it. He thought; `You've had your share. Now I'm having my share ...' but she beat the shot out of him. She fucken hit him with a rock. He was a witch doctor as well. (Not a very successful one? :-)) He showed us where her place was, and I went in and I said; `Hey, Mama, where is ...' They were all lying there in a heap. It was like something out of a Vietnam film. They were all lying there naked in a big heap on one bed. I said; `Come outside.' I was standing out there. The ousie girl comes out there in her gown. `What's going on here? What's the story.' Not that it was really anything to do with us; it was just something to do. It passed time. She said; `No, he tried to rape me. Look here ...' She lifts up her gown and she's kaal-gat. [naked] There are scrapes and so on. `Okay, I believe you.' We got him. We said; `Come, China.' We took him up to the station. He's been done for rape before. So he's sitting there in the charge office, and his head is bleeding from this real serious cut. There's this piece of flesh hanging off there. The cop goes; `So, jy's weer terug, ne?' [`So, you're back again?'] And he's sitting there. The cop is actually standing there on the charge office counter. `So, jy's weer terug, ne?' [`So, you're back again?'] And he gives him what they call a `double clutch'. A punch on both of his ears. He's moaning and protesting; the normal story. Then the cop hits him again - in the wound. `Fucken hell! Just lock the ou up or something ...' It was in the days prior to AIDS so there wasn't such a scare about it. I thought; `Its out of our hands now.' Off we go.

Being an English speaking person in South Africa; the Afrikaners used to rule the roost at that stage. You had as much leg to stand on as a coon did. Especially if they knew you were a soutie [limey] or British or something like that. The SAP did overdo things in some instances. We know for a fact that the police used to overdo it a lot. That's where they got their reputation from. The army guys - I think they knew that we were civvies basically who had to go into the army. They were glad of our presence there because at least if there was trouble there they had some to turn to. They could go to someone. We were basically babysitters for the coons while there was shit going on. There were those boycotts of the shops in those days - making people drink bleach and things like that. We were in different townships. Once we left East London we went down to Wolmansdaal to go and do heropleiding [retraining] for second phase training. We thought that now at last we were going to the border. We were looking forward to the extra cash because of the danger pay, and we basically wanted to get out there.


We were there for two weeks doing border phase training. It was basically like doing section leaders again for two weeks, because we did fire and movement and all that sort of thing over again. Then suddenly comes the call. Pack up your kit, and we had to go to Nelspruit - Kanemanzaan, the homeland in Kongwane at the back of Nelspruit. We were deployed to Dingmell in White River, and we slaaned [struck] up base there. We thought; `Here we go again. back into riots and townships again.' At that stage we thought that we were going to become mechanised infantry with the ratels which was grand. We were looking forward to it. When we went in to Kangwane there, and these Ratels used to come past - wheee! `That's for me, my man! That's my cup of tea! Not this shit in the buffel.'

We had a couple of guys seriously injured in buffel accidents and a couple of guys killed in those townships. They were following a casspir one night, and the casspir obviously knew the road. they came to a T-junction and swung off. It was misty and the ous couldn't see the convoy light or anything, so they went straight over a cliff in the buffel. Straight through the armco, and over this ravine. The buffel landed on some of the ous. There was a guy who had been in basics with me; Pelekaan, and the plate actually landed on his head and squashed his head. How he survived, I don't know. When we got back to base for some reason before we went back to Barberton, and he was there and he had a steel cage around his head. He was still in base. His eye was gone here, and this was all stitched closed, and his face was crushed from this armoured plate, and he had this cage around his head. He had been a good looking dude before this happened. It was one of those things. The guys probably weren't strapped in. When you went out in winter it was fucken friezing at that time of the morning. I know. Most of the guys used to zip up in their sleeping bags and just sit there because it was freezing. In the later stages we used to put our raincoats under our grootjasse, [great coats] because we didn't have those grootjasse yet - the ones with the fur lining in them. We had a bush jacket, and we used to stick our raincoat on with a jersey and your bush jacket, and then put that around you with your scarf and then buckle up. After that shit happened, everyone realised. It was just one of those unfortunate things. They didn't discharge him from the army. He was there all the fucken time. That was something that I couldn't understand. Okay, he was in the HQ. He was in the base all the time. He wasn't deployed back out. I'm sure was there for the whole time. I couldn't see why he would still be there then, because this was a long time after that. They should have discharged the guy. It doesn't make sense.

We did basics, we did section leaders - we were in Cathcart before Christmas and we were there until February sometime, and then we were pulled back for second phase training at Wolmansdaal. We were there for a couple of weeks, and we were sent to Nelspruit. We were there for probably four months or so. There was a big area to cover there. We went right out to Numbi Gate. We used to do some Ops out at Numbi Gate, and roadblocks and that sort of thing. Our duties varied from doing road blocks and things like that, and doing Ops and normal search things for caches. It was monitoring the people's courts because there were lots of necklacings and so on going on there as well. That was the stupid thing about that. We went out one night and we were parked out in the bush somewhere. Everything was quite, so we had parked off and we were sleeping in the buffel. I used to be aware all the time - most of the guys were. You were on edge all the time. Some guys didn't used to give a shit and they used to sleep pretty deep. I was always aware of things going on. I was on the ground walking around at the time, and the sun was coming up. Our section's driver - Buysman - he was a pretty good photographer. [photo] Buysman - he was a Hollander, a Dutch guy.

[photo] My brother in the shithouse. Go-carts. He didn't give a shit.

[photo] Weapons display at 7 SAI.

[photo] A little dog we found in the township. It was riddled with flees and lice and ticks. My brother got it back to health and they kept it as a mascot. The captain cut its tail off with a pen knife. The poor thing was in agony for days. It was a bull mastive or something. It actually got quite big after a while.

[photo] Some of the busses that they used to torch in the Kanemezaan area because they used to boycott as well. Any people that were going in to work on the buses used to get threatened with being necklaced, or burn the busses out all the time.

[photo] My younger brother became an instructor at Armour School. There are his guys that he did basics with, and a couple of buddies. They came up there for a while with their noddies. [Nickname for Eland / Panhard Armoured Cars] It was just such a waste of time. These things used to be so unreliable. the guys used to be stuck all the time. They used to be getting recoveries out all the time to come and get these guys. They were shit. They had the best of everything. They had these chopper tents that fold out, and they had primus stoves to cook their chow, and we would have rat packs.

We were in that township, and our Lieutenant - he was a school teacher. He had a degree. He wasn't a brave ou. He wasn't a fit ou either. He was grossly overweight for an infantry soldier, and he shouldn't have been in that situation. He was only there because of his degree. It was wrong of them to have put him in that situation. We were climbing mountains in Nelspruit. Some of those mountain ranges are big. We were climbing these things in full kit going through there. He couldn't keep up, and we kept having to stop and wait for him. He used to get lost. `Lieutenant. Come on.' He was so fucken useless. He was holding everyone back. And he was a coward to boot. We were patrolling through the location one day, and they started stoning us from the school. They started rioting and stoning the vehicles and everything. The Lieutenant with HQ section was in front of us - first buffel - and we were second. We said to him; `Lieutenant. Pull over. These ous. Lets fucken jaag [chase] them.' `Nee, nee. Vokken ry, ry, ry!' [`No. Fucken ride. Ride!']. He didn't want to know! We said; `Fuck you!' and we stopped. The ous debussed, and we were out there, fucking jaaging the ous into the school. Most of them were laaitjies, but some of them were eighteen or nineteen. We chased these ous, and they all ran ...

Missing a bit?

All you could see were these guys grasping their ears and duck walking up this mountain at Mach I. It was hilarious.

We were walking through the school. Most of the teachers there were white. We went into the school and this one black laaitjie of probably about sixteen or seventeen stuck his head out of the window. He shouted something like; `I'm going to fucken kill you!' I thought; `Fuck you!' and I walked around. A buddy of mine, Brandon Horn, walked around into the classroom. I was in a rage. I stick my blitz breeker [flask hider] on his nose and I said; `I'll shoot your fucking head off. Don't you fucken stand there screaming that you're going to kill me. You're not in that position now. I'm in a position to kill you.' He was actually grey, hey. He said nothing. I said; `Shut up and fuck off!' I was just pissed off.

This teacher came out. She runs up shouting and starts to try to slap us. Brandon Horn says to her; `Hey, fuck off, you white whore.' We were pissed off now as well - this white woman coming out now and she's slapping us because we were in the school. We said; `They were causing the trouble. They have no right to be throwing stones at the vehicles. We were passing by. There was nothing instigated.' Then some of the other guys outside, the section three guys who were Afrikaans - our platoon was divided - section one was all English guys - mine and my brother's section - all ex-pats. Section two was a mixture and then section three was all Afrikaans guys. The Section three Afrikaans guys had found a couple of black guys with UDF written on their tackies [trainers], and they gripped them one side. They were moering [hitting] these coons, and forcing banana peels down this one ou's mouth. Someone came past and caught them, and we got into a lot of shit for that.

We started thinking; `What's the point? There's petrol bombs and people lighting tyres and rolling them on to the road whenever we come past. They just want something to do. If we hadn't have been there, it wouldn't have made any difference. Because we were there [we became a target for them] - something to give them a run-about. The biggest crowd that we had ever seen was probably about three or four hundred of them protesting one night. They were running around smashing things up and we were called out. We were there anyway. We thought; There's a lot of coons running around there.' Now we were not allowed to shoot them. You can't do anything. You've got no batons, no shields. What are you going to do? Just your presence isn't going to be enough to scare these ous away.

We were sitting there still just thinking about this. Next minute this SAP bus with double doors on it stops, and these ouks are out with sjamboks. [whips] They jaag these ouks - you just see the coons spread. Sjamboks, hey! They were hefting these ous. They were running in every direction. We thought; `That's what we need. We need sjamboks. These R4s are a waste of time - chuck them down. Get a sjambok and laat them, and that's it. They skrik [get frightened]more because they knew you were going to whack them with a sjambok. They knew you wouldn't shoot them with an R4. You used to get into these things which got the adrenaline going.

Another instance where we had an incident in one of the smaller areas of the township. We used to go right outside Numbi side, and ride deep into the country there, into the little villages there. There had obviously been shit there. One night the Captain had come in and said - we had a parabat captain, Labuschagne - he had come in from parabats. I don't know why he was there. I don't know whether he was kicked out of parabats - or what the story was, but we got this parabat captain anyway. I think it was before Le Roux was killed. This ou came in one night and asked for volunteers. He said; `We've been tipped off and we've got word that there's an ANC safe house in Inkongwane. We know where it is. There's arms cache's there. I want volunteers because we're going to raid this place. So myself and Adshead, we thought; `Ja, cool. We'll go for this.' It was something to do. We were going to go in at half past twelve at night and lay low until about half past two in the morning and then hit this place. My boet wasn't too keen on going. My boet wasn't interested. They already had enough ous. They took a normal civvy bakkie and we laid in the back of it and they threw a tarpaulin over us. We went there with tackies and balaclavas and all that with our browns on. Now you're waiting and you're thinking; `There's guys in there that if they know you are coming, they are going to rev you. Now its different. You feel different. You are very edgy.

Eventually we got to the place. We got out and surrounded it. Now you start thinking to yourself; `What if these other ous loose it and they start shooting like mad, with you in the crossfire. They're not going to think. Its night time. They're just going to start opening up.' Then you start worrying a bit. You think; `Let's hope these ous hold it together.' We were sitting out there, thinking; `Here it comes!'

They went it. There was a maid and a baby there, at the time. That was it. We searched the place and there was nothing. But at the time you think; `Shit! This is happening!' Nothing came of it - except later when we got back we found that the other guys who had gone in to the other place had smashed the place to pieces, and they had to pay for it. These were NDPs [National Servicemen] and they had to pay for all the damage they had caused. Harry - they were big guys - body builders - a bit too aggressive. There were no ANC guys there. They got pissed off and they smashed the windows and broke everything - and they had to pay for it.

There were different things all the time. We used to drop four guys off - Matthew Dobson and the two Lindsay brothers (Scott and Chris) - a British guy and two Scotsmen [photo], Miles Davies - and English guy. Graham Bull - I think his grandfather was chief of traffic in Johannesburg. He became a traffic cop after he left, as well. He was a dork. Douglas Ramsden (who was polishing his boots) - he was all right. They were two buddies as well. Lionel Kenner - he was a bit different from everyone else - snooty. He was a strange dude. He used to write all these strange sexual letters to his girlfriend or fiancé or whatever she was. Really out of the ordinary stuff. `Hey dude! What's wrong with you?'

It was those two boets - Scot, Chris and Dob - they were small guys. If we went into a pub, even in uniform, the guys would say; `You're not allowed to drink here.' We used to say; `He's in uniform. He's old enough to have a drink.' He was in his 20's, Scott. He even had a laaitjie. We used to pick up that sort of thing. So they were all standing at that area where we dropped them off to watch this one particular shop that there was a lot of activity at. Myself and my boet and D Adshead, we were sitting parked up on the buffel a couple of ks further away. He had a call; `Hey guys, come and help us. We're getting had here.' The guys had enclosed them, and some guy had come to start shit with them. These were British guys so they weren't anti. They were in the township in the area - [photo]. We got this call. So what the guys did was that they started panicking. They knew that they couldn't pull their R4s and start threatening the guys so they were trying to chill the situation out. This one black guy was going on; `You fucking white people ...' Giving them shit. `Look, just fuck off, because you're making trouble now, and you're going to get into shit.' And then the other coons started coming around, and a couple of cars with a gang of guys pull up. These guys were obviously connected to the ANC or something. Chris had done a tracker course - he was a big ganja [cannabis] smoker - he wasn't a racist or anything like that at all. He klapped [slapped] this kaffir, and said; `Fuck off!' So the guy got upset and went to get his buddies and they came back , and there was big shit. They called us. We were heading down there full stick down the sand road, and we were getting there. What they did was - they were panicking so much that Dob grabbed a grenade - we had smoke and we had smoke and CS/tear gas. He pulled a grenade off thinking that he would scare the guys, thinking that it was a smoke. He said; `Fuck off, , or I'm going to throw this.' They don't, so he throws this grenade. This is about ten seconds before we get in the scene. Pwoof! CS gas. We're in the buffel, and we're standing this high. We see this big white cloud and we think; `What the fuck is this? Its tear gas!' We throw the bin open of the buffel - we had the Captain's buffel - it was the command buffel. It only had one gasmask in it. We didn't have our gas masks with us because we were doing riot control. I grabbed this gas mask and pulled it onto my head, and my boet and them take the teargas straight in the face. The coons were all smothered, and they were crying, and they were running around screaming, and coughing. Its shit stuff! It burns the shit out of you,. They're throwing water over each other with buckets, which makes it worse. We got done there, and we got the situation from the guys there - what's happened. Their eyes were streaming, because they thought it was smoke. I've got a gas mask on so I'm feeling all right, sussing the situation out. I grabbed the ou who was the shitmaker. Adshead was pissed off now, because he was also crying - he runs up and decks this coon. Adshead was quite a big guy. Lights out! But he spun his knuckle on his hand hitting the guy. We got it all sorted out eventually, and Adshead - the lucky bastard - got one and a half months off. He went to 1 Mil and everything with his hand, and he got pass all this time. When he came back, his hair was long. We thought; `Where have you been, you lucky son of a bitch!?' He got it from hitting the ou.

There was a lot of shit that night. That same night was the first time that we had taken our medic out. It wasn't fair. The guy had to stay in base. He was only called if he was needed, but they never expected any, so he had to stay in the base the whole time, and that was shit for him. He was a Rhodesian guy. We said; `No, let the medic come out on patrol.' Section 3 took him out - the Afrikaans guys. They took him and they hit shit. It was a situation. It was a big fucken riot, and they got charged by people. They managed to split them, an d half were going this way and half were going that way. One of the centre shitmakers was getting away, and the Afrikaans guys - to wind the medic up, they went; `Medic, skiet hom, medic.' [`Shoot him, medic!'] He had his rifle with him. `Skiet hom.' The medic - no problem, hey! Pow! He shoots the ou through the back of the leg muscle there, the back of his shin. It was a good shot! This ou was `man down' and the guys (section 3) were going `Woah! We were only joking!'

We got into shit for pulling cars over at a road block, and this guy has just capped someone. We are thinking; `Oh, shit!' We can hear all the crackling on the radio - `What's going on?' He gets back, and he gets a pat on the back from the Captain. He was a big hero., We thought; `This is a turn of events. We normally get our balls chopped off.' But it was okay. At least the ou had something to talk about. I'm sure he's still talking about it nowadays. It was just one of those things that happens.

We used to go out on raids, and raid shabeens and that as well. You never tasted a better beer in your life than from a kaffir location, a shantytown shabeen. And it was always ice-cold. Castle quarts! You would go in there; `What the fuck is this?' You know its not licensed. We used to get complaints all the time. We were like the judge and jury there as far as the what was going on economically with these people. They were saying; `This guy has got a shop.', and `This guys selling bread from his house,' and so on. We would say; `That isn't really our department, you know.' Then they would say; `This guy is running a shebeen there.' `Oh, that's handy. We'll have a look into that, sir!' Off we go one night [photo] - we all camoed up and everything. We went in there and found the shebeen. We went in there; `Okay, Mama. What's behind that curtain there?' It looked like Solly Kramer's. It was fucken stocked. Everything! Brandy, whiskey, wine. You name it! It had everything! I thought; `We've struck gold here.' We didn't go mad. I know that these people are making a living. Okay, they're doing it sneaky, but ... What I said to her was; `Hey, you know you're not allowed to do this, hey? Where is your licence for this?' `E - no licence. No licence.' I say; `Okay. I'll tell you what we'll do.' There were only four of us there. I said; `Okay, guys. Take whatever you want - within reason. A couple if bottles, and a couple of nips.' We took a couple of nips and a box of quarts, and we said; `Its okay. From here.' and off we go. We walked out and I bumped into my brother, and his brick. He says; `Where did you get that?' `Oh, at the shebeen here. We just been to the shebeen.' `Ja?' I said; `No, guys. You can share with us. Don't go ...' `Aw, fuck that!' He was in there, and he came out with cases. I said; `Hey, you've got to carry that shit all the way back to the OP, man. Forget it. Nooit!' And then one ou gripped a chicken. It was Lionel Kenna - he grabbed a chicken. We were going to chow this now. We get it out. I said; `What the fuck. Keep the chicken quiet.' By this time the whole village knew. They had put all the lights out and the women had started wailing. They all started going fucken bananas. `Oh, shit.' We thought; `The quiet treatment. A thousand footer [flare]'. Bwoogsh. Right over the top of the location. Silence! That will do. Silence. Off we go. We're trotting on.

I said to Kenna; `Kill the fucken chicken now. Kill it.' We had learned a trick from Lance Corporal Le Roux who was killed - he used to grab a chicken by its head, and whip it and actually take its head off, and it was dead. I said; `Just give it the whip treatment, like Le Roux taught us.' Whipp! That must just have knocked it out. Silence. Hey, cool! Its dead. He's got it be the feet, and we're all happy with ourselves. We've got some booze and we're going up into the hills again. As we're walking through the bush, we can hear this `Waagh'. Everyone was; `What the fuck's that?' `Waagh' Everyone was shitting themselves. This chicken was still alive. We must have bust its neck or something, and it was crying `Waagh' the whole time. Eventually we realised that it was the chicken, and we smashed its head on a rock eventually to get this thing to die. When we got back, the Lootie was a bit pissed off. He said that we were making a noise, which we probably were. On the slopes, as well. We had a lekker OP overlooking the whole village from this big flat rock. The Lootie, as I said - he was a coward, sleeping in his bed all the time. Mt brother at that time decided to piss on his bivvy at the same time, and to tell him that it was raining and that he should not come out. I thought that if he came out then, that we would be in shit. One of our corporals at that time was an ou man - a platoon sergeant, because we went in because the Infantry School guys had been in a year already. So by the time we had been in so long, they were ready for klaaring out. One of the guys who was with us - he was a laaitjie - he must have been only seventeen or eighteen and he had already done Infantry School. He was a laaitjie. He had one beer and he was arseholes. He was finished, hey! The guys gutted the chicken and put the giblets in his rat-pack porridge. This was dark now. They stirred it up, and tuned him; `Hey, here's your porridge.' He had asked for it. He chowed it. He ate the lot, and he didn't even realise. From one beer he was that legless. I was kotching for him! That was so shit. I though; `You ous are cruel. How can you do something like that?' He chowed it all. He didn't even notice.

They gapped it eventually. Drake as well, when we were in the Eastern Cape. Drake was an NDP - platoon sergeant. When we were done in Cathcart, the first time that we were out. we picked up that shit. We were getting lobbed and that. He got a flippen baksteen [brick] on the kop [head]. He had his helmet on, but he got a good klap [smack] from the half brick on the head. We never saw him in there again. Thank goodness. We didn't need him. He was a big fucken nuisance. We never saw him again. He shat his pants and he never came in there again. That was the last we saw of Drake at that stage. Basically, when we went back, he klaared out. He was a useless fucker, hey! He used to go ourt and get pissed in the civvy pub, and come back and kotch all over the place. He kotched in his bed one night, and got up and climbed into the Lieutenant's bed. We had a good Lootie then, Lieutenant Perrill. He was a good ouk. A geologist, I think he was. He came back from wherever he was and there was Drake sleeping in his bed. That's the first time that I heard him shit him out. I can remember one time I was ill - I was down for the day. This ou treed us aan for PT. We were deployed now, and he treed everyone aan for PT. I had been to the Loot and I had said; `Look, I'm sick. I've been puking all day.' I said I was fucken ill. `I can't do PT. Can I get excused from PT?' He said; `Ja. No problem.' Then Drake came in and he said; `Vokken tree aan in die pad.' [`Fucken fall in on te road!'] I said that I had spoken to the lootie already. He wouldn't take no for an answer, this guy. He says; `Vokken tree aan in die pad.' So I go outside, and he says; `Vokken maak so.' [Fucken do as I say!'] This is in civvy street, like in the street. ` So: "Bee-bah Bee-bah"!' Like an ambulance, like in the street. I said to him; `Fuck you! You can kiss my hole. I won't do it.' He went ape-shit. I said; `I've fucken spoken - I've got permission from the Lieutenant. I'm not fucken well. I'm not doing it. I'm not going to make a fool of myself standing here for you.' I thought that I was going to be in big shit, but the lootie tuned him; `Hey, the ou is sick. Leave him alone.' I was just never so glad to see the back of that ouk in my life. He was an arsehole. That way him. Drake!

Ops Floura was in Barberton. We were deployed in Barberton because we did Komatipoort; we did Swaziland, Komatipoort, and there was the other side of the triangle that we used to cover. In Alpha Company we had 5 platoons, and each platoon had their area. We were covering Diepgeset which was along Piggs Peak - the border post. Swaziland was a couple of k's up from us - [photo]. We used to deploy over the valleys and then walk out to our own Ops. We did that area, but they used to change us sometimes - Charlie 5 or Charlie 6 OP was out Komatipoort side. They used to take us out there and drop us off. I probably dossed sixteen months in the bush in my time. Slept in a bivvy for sixteen months in the bush. Whether it was in the township, whether it was in the Swaziland border, the Komatipoort border - any of those places along there. There were quite a lot of people - illegals coming across, but they were all just people really. Coons think differently. Borders aren't borders. If they want a better life, they'll go that side. Not all of them are terrorists. Some of them are just coming to visit family or coming to live with family; not going through the normal procedures as we would. But then we had the incident where Le Roux was killed, where guys came across who obviously were terrorists, and planted a mine - and that was the result of it. You had to treat everyone the same. It didn't make any difference.

I can remember one night on the Komatipoort side. There were only three of us on the Op - myself, Graham Bull and Ramsden. Basically you could see paths sometimes coming from the border fence where they dropped across, and then there would be a path coming from a pandokkie village up the drag a bit - this was all in the bush - and then there was another path linking up, so it was three paths linking up, and there was a river here. I decided that we would set up just off the paths here in the bush. We didn't stand sentry at night when we were out there. You were sharp, but then you didn't sleep well. You were on edge so if you heard a noise you wer awake and you were up. We parked our bivvies there. We had the platoon 3 base and then we were splintered out to different sections for different Ops. The Ops were set up for the night, and then we moved on the next day. They were in the same area, but they were moved to different places. What I did was to string up basic rat pack tins with gut through them, and tie them across the paths in either direction, and just park down. True as Bob! Three o'clock in the morning. Clang clang clang clang! Now you are dof, [dazed] because you have been sleeping - snoring in fact. You used to sleep with your R4 anyway. `Bull, Bull!' So I just dived out of the bivvy that way, because it was open this side. I dived out of the bivvy and shouldered my rifle, and said; `Vokken staan still. Stand still!' There was this row of blacks, just standing there. Tannies - ousies and kids, children - no guys! Fucking hell. It was like a troop of them. "Okay, stand still. Everybody, sit down. Sit Down.' My other two were still snoring. I said to them; `Get up. Get up!' Everybody was standing around. There were children, and I didn't want to put any extra stress on these kids, and there were ousies. I didn't see them as being intimidating, or anything. They seemed harmless enough. I said; `Okay. Put your kit down. I'm just going to search your kit and make sure there's no mines or ammo or anything like that.' I searched their kit. By this time it was starting to get daylight. When I got them at first, I got on the radio. `Drie zero, Drie zero, Drie zero, [Three zero, three zero, three zero']Alpha, come in.' I thought those ous were kipping. I'll bet there isn't even a sentry on duty at the platoon base. They have to get the lootie now to come and get these people and take them back. At about six o'clock in the morning I called them again. I said; `Look, I've got a whole bunch of these ous, who have come across here.' I said; `I need transport to get them out of here. Send someone through.' `Ja, ja, ja! One hour, two hours pass, and still no one came. I called him again, and I said; `Listen, Lieutenant. If you're not here in fifteen minutes, then I'm letting these ouks go. I'm sending them on their way.' I just lost it. I thought; `I'm not going to sit here and baby-sit these coons.' These ousie girls are going; `So where are you from, my darling?' and all that sort of shit. I thought; `Oh, fuck off! I'm not going to start a personal conversation here with you. Sit down here on your arse.' `All right, lovey!' They were sitting there having a piss on the side. They are different to us. Then she schemes; `Nooit. She can't go back wearing the kak', so she changes, and goois [throws] a dress on. `No, fuck! Nooit, hey!' You can feel sorry for them as well. You think; `Shit. They're going to get back, and they're going to get into a lot of shit. The kids go through all of this drama. What are they doing it for? Why?' But we just sent them back.

Later that day, I was still moeg [tired] from getting up early and going through all of that shit, so I though that I was going to crash for a while. Bull and Ramsden were sitting there playing chess in the bush, and this hout-kop came up from the river, checked the bivvy, and turned and legged it. He had a back-pack on. Bull stands up and says; `Hey, corporal. The ouk's fucken running away.' I said; `Well, what the fuck are you standing here for. Go and get him.' I grabbed my rifle and my ammo, and I fucken jagged after this ou on my own. Now I'm chasing him, and I don't know what he had - if he had a weapon, or what. I'm legging it after him, following spoor and chasing him. Then I suddenly realised; `hey! You're on your own here. This guy could be lying right here in the bush, and he'll rev you, and you won't even know it. Shit!' Then I started to be really skerp, like I was in the bush, then out, and then back in - really watching it. I started getting thirsty. I had been running. I was parched. I hadn't got any water with me. I thought; `Shit! Now what?' I kept coming across a couple of these little coon farms. You ask the ousies; `Did you see anyone come past here?' but they don't tell you. They're not going to tell you anything. I carried on trapping, trying to pick up spoor again. Then I found some of those kaffir melons; the white things. I schemed; `Hey. I'll have this. ‘ I couldn't get the thing open. I was hitting it with the rifle, chopping it with the magazine. I couldn't get this thing open. Eventually I got a piece of it off, and it was bitter bitter bitter! By the time I got back I had like white shit in my mouth. I never found anything of him. I just thought afterwards how stupid it was to leg it after him.

[Day to day life?] We used to go in [to the base] and have a VTB dag, [Leisure time management day] get out post, have a shower. Sometimes we were in base for about three days, I would say, at the most, and then we were out again. Sometimes for seven days and then back in, and then sometimes fourteen days. I have probably done about five fourteen day Ops, which were pretty long. They used to re-ration us - they would come out after seven days, and we would come down, and meet at a point, pick up rats, and go back into the bush - which was okay because we weren't disturbed by PFs or anything. We weren't really, anyway, because we were deployed as a platoon with a platoon base. The main base - when we went back to Barberton - if you go up the pass - if you go up there it was right up in the pine tree plantations there. We had a base set there; we used to go out from there to our platoon bases - we had actual platoon bases set up. [photo] We had toilets and that sort of thing in place; the luxuries of home. [photo] - as you can see, the sails are up on the side line, so the other ous were out. We were obviously in there. We used to go back there as well. We would do seven days, and then be back there for a couple of days. This was all the area out here. {photo] This was my boet and them after an opvok, because a taxi had come past and they were out on the road coming back in, and this taxi came past and they had mouthed a whole lot of shit at them, so they turned around and they actually chased the taxi, and when they pulled them over the guys got off without their helmets on. When you were in a buffel you had to wear your helmet. Our PF Loot, Lt Butler, who was an arsehole of note - he stopped them and with the interrogation and everything, took them back to the base and gave them an opvok on the basis that they didn't have their helmets on. That is how stupid he was. [photo] That's my boet in his jocks. He doesn't care much about his nudity, my brother. [photo] That was the lapa that we built that we never used.

Buisman, the buffel driver and the guy who is standing up in the front there, Lambert [photo] we were driving in the location, and we were coming up to a mud patch, so we said to Buysman; `Hey, give it stick here. Do a broadie.' Myself and Darren Adshead were sitting on the bin, holding on the bar, and when he went through, he slid sideways, and there was a big tree stump sticking out of the side of the road. It connected the inside of the wheel and snapped the steering axel and everything. Ashead flew off the back, and landed on Lambeth and broke his leg. He had a lot of shit about that. What we said was that we went through it and we hit this and we slid. We said to Buysman, the driver; `Hey, you're in shit. You fucked this thing up! - There was hydraulic fluid pissing out from underneath it. It was fucken wrecked. We thought; `Oh, kak!' The Staff there, Staff Roets. He was quite a good ou, but paraat about his vehicles. We had to call in now to get a recovery to come out, and we had an ou there with a broken leg, as well. He comes out; `Hey, wat die vok maak julle? What have you been doing?' `No, Staff, we came around the corner ...' Luckily there was a corner there `... and we hit this mud and the vehicle slid sideways.' `Ja, but I told you always to have it in fucken diff lock, and to have it in four-wheel drive ...' `Ja, ja. We didn't think. We were just cruising.' Luckily we got away with it, but Buysman was sweating blood. He was shitting his pants. Lambert ended up in hospital, in Nelspruit - Rob Ferreira Hospital. He had his leg in plaster, and nurses and that running around. He claims to have shafted one of the PF lootie's sisters, who was a nurse there, but I think he was a bit of a story teller. I don't know.

We had intelligence guys around sometimes, but I don't know how much of it was just; `Get out there and do it'? and how much of it was intelligence driven. I wish I knew more about it. I wish I knew more about the intelligence side of it. I would have liked to have known more about it because you always wondered what our function there was. Were we just catching guys jumping the fence or were we there for a specific reason. Were the mines that we had - because we encountered a lot of mines in that area - were they planted by our side? Were they planted by gooks? Was it there to say that our presence in the area was required? Was it planted by intelligence, or the South African government, or whatever. We don't know. The picture of the bakkie that was blown up [photo].


[Death of Le Roux - looking at photos]. This was where he hit it, between two of our Ops . It was on the Piggs Peake border - just a couple of Ks from there - we used to have our Ops out there. I had gone to 7 SAI for two weeks bondelsport - we wanted to get out of the bush for a while. We used to sleep in the bush for fourteen days continuously. We used to have a day in base, get your post or whatever, clean up, have a shower, get re-ratted (resupplied) and then we would go back out again. We slept in a bivvy the whole time. We used to smell. You don't realise it because you don't sense yourself, but I can remember when my old lady and them came up - they had an open day at Christmas and we went in to the base at Barberton - we had a company base there. When we got in there, your folks were allowed to come up and visit you just before Christmas. I remember that when my old lady and them came up - before we had been back in the base a day or two and we had scrubbed up and we had had showers and everything. My old lady said; `You boys stink. You smell worse than coons.' And we had been scrubbing. She must have been gagging, hey. We must have smelt like shit. But saying that, we used to wash and bath in the rivers anyway, because we had natural springs coming down the mountains. We used to wash in the all the time. It must just be the bush smell that sticks on you. There's something about it. There was very high humidity in that area. That's what happens.

I had just come back into base - that picture - myself and Darren Adshead, he's my magger, and he had had gone with me. That's a picture taken at one of the first Ops that we did on the first fourteen-day stint. We weren't looking too impressed at the end of it.

My boet was lucky on both occasions, especially with the one with le Roux because my brother was there on that OP, and he was standing there when Le Roux rode past. Le Roux rode past on the horse, and was waving at them, and the next minute; Boom! Fucken hell! We didn't expect anything like that. We were out there; we walked patrol all the time, we did Ops. It was the horse that detonated the mine. We had a couple of local PBs in the area; Funjani and his people that were okay. We were buddies with them, and we got on all right with them. If they had seen anyone who shouldn't have been in the area, they would tell us. It was good. You also had migrant miners walking the paths in the early morning and late at night to get to the asbestos mine at Diepgeset. You had this mix of people. You didn't know who to stop. You had to stop everybody and make sure. Sometimes at night the ous never bothered. I was at 7 SAI at the time. I came back that night when my boet and them were going out. They said; `You guys stay in the base. We'll put you out next week. You can stay here now for the weekend, and then we'll stick you our next week.' My Boet and them were going out, and myself and Darren Adshead, and the Lootie and a couple of the other HQ guys were in the platoon base. At half past five on the Sunday afternoon we were sitting there and we heard this fucken bang. We thought; `Fuck! And now?' Maybe they were surface blasting at the mine. We didn't think, initially. And then we looked through the valley and we could see this fucken cloud. We thought; `Fuck! And now?' I was worried because my boet was out there, and we didn't know if the guys were walking, or what. We were only about six clicks out from our base through the valley, but they couldn't get comms, with those radios. They couldn't get signal because of the mountains. So Chris Lindsay, the tracker, he legged it. He ran the six k's. He ran back in, got a civvy vehicle on the sand road, and got them to drop him in. He came in and said that there had been a mine explosion. It was all confused. My boet said that, initially, when it fucken went off. Straight away basics training came back in a flash. Everyone was down doing rond-om verdediging. [perimeter defence] Everyone was down and waiting, expecting to be revved. Everyone waiting - covered in fucken horse meat. My boet and them were sitting on the Op which was probably about three hundred metres up on the ridge from where it detonated in that little valley. My boet was writing a letter home at the time, and a piece of fucken horse meat plonked onto the page of his letter. He kept the pages and all that shit., That's how far it spread. Because of the overhang of the trees, it looked like a fucken butcher factory. There was just meat hanging everywhere from this horse. It was a big hose. it was one of those big shire horses. What happened was that Le Roux had gone through in the morning. It was a Sunday morning. Le Roux was a really decent laaitjie - Afrikaans - a very strict upbringing. I think he was adopted. He was nineteen year old but he was still a virgin, and he used to get ragged for it all the time by the guys in the platoon. He was a good-hearted laaitjie, but also adventurous and naughty in a way where he would steal a donkey. On this particular day he had gone out there. Fanjanie and them has said that they had problems with monkeys stealing the corn, and would he shoot the monkey for them. He hung around and shot one of the little grey apes that was diefing [thieving] the stuff, and he said to them that he wanted to take the horse for a ride. It wasn't actually official business, or anything like that. He took the horse and came down to show the guys, because he was a farm kid and he used to do that sort of thing. He came up to the guys. Little pikkinins were running with him. He got up there and he spoke to the guys. His section, the guys reckon that morning when he got up he said; `Come sit around'. He wanted to read to them out of the bible, which was unheard of. Normally the guys would laugh it off. He read to the guys out of the bible, and apparently the guys were fine about it. When he came back, he was on the horse and he tuned the guys to take a picture. There is a picture of him probably about two minutes before he was killed, waving on the horse. Coming back on the horse, the pikkinins ran off ahead of him, luckily. There was a little trickle of a stream coming across the path, and they had dug it up in the marsh - in the water - and planted it there. It was a double cheese mine. The horse tramped it. Boom! It was strange to us because we would have thought that horses would sense things like that. They've got a sixth sense about things like that, but it tramped straight on it. Boom! That was it. Tickets.

Initially, because the blast was so big, it caught him by his legs, and probably tore his legs off because he was gone from there. It threw him up through the trees and he bashed his head on one of the trees going through, and fell in the undergrowth, so that when the guys came down they couldn't find him. They couldn't see him. They didn't know what to scheme; whether he was alive or dead. The call came through for a casevac. Now I was left at the base, and we had to call for a casevac to get him out. The lootie said; `I'm going out. You stay here.' I said; `I want to go out. I don't know if my fucken boet all right.' Chris said to me; `Don't worry. Everything's cool. The other guys are okay.' I said; `All right.' I was the only ranking person, so I had to stay back. It was about three hours drive through the mountains to the base from Barberton. The captain arrived, and he arrived pissed as well. He said; `What's going on? Tell me the story.' I was there in the OPs room with him when he called Nelspruit; `Luister. Ek het 'n casevac noodig. Kan ek 'n chopper kry. [`Listen. We need a casevac. Can we have a chopper?'] What's the story.' I heard the people at the other end saying; `No, they won't send a chopper. It would take them about two hours to get a chopper ready to come out there. They're not going to waste their time. Its not worth it.'

I thought; `Fuck it! What? It doesn't matter is the ou is dead or not. They can get the chopper in and get him out.' I thought; `You ous are fuckers. I never want to get wounded or anything here if this is the attitude that you ous have.' Okay, I must admit that the captain was pissed off himself. I said; `Fuck that. You don't know if the guy is alive or if he is dead. It doesn't matter.' But obviously they weren't bothered.

They sent a unimog ambulance out. Then the cops arrived, and I went with the captain in the back of the gharrie. I had to show them where the OP was. There were tons of people out there; SAP skylines. They must have rode through the bush. I don't know how they got there - all those cars. We were having problems in a landrover. I still remember when we were going out there, one of these SAP skylines was coming back and it was a one-width road, with a drop on the other side, and there was a sheer wall on this side. `What the fuck now?' The captain hakked [tugged] that thing in reverse in four-wheel-drive and drove it up that wall. It was sitting like this - I thought that I was going to fall through the windscreen. He didn't say; `Get out', he just hakked it in reverse. I thought; `This ou is pissed.' He would have done it anyway. They passed and went through.

What pissed me off when we got there; there was a sergeant who we had in the base who was a real `breyer' [speech impediment] - he used to speak like that. He used to come across as a bit of a dick, but he wasn't. He was a stores sergeant. He had probably seen a bit of action along the way. He was out there and he was tuning the ous; `Its shit' and whatnot. The captain traps down there and comes back up, and he said; `Ja. Sien wat gebeur as julle rondvok.' [`See what happens if you fuck about?'] The ous were pissed off. The ous wanted to shoot the fucker. We thought; `There's no call for that. The ou is dead. Have a bit of respect.' He was vrot [rotten drunk] - he must have been pissed.

They we had to stay out there the whole night; rond-om verdediging [perimeter defence], standing there, checking everything out. Fucken next morning, without fail, there comes a Puma and all the brass from Nelspruit and Far North Command getting out. I thought; `Now they can have a fucken chopper fly out for this tourist attraction.' Fucken wankers! That wasn't the worst part. We were standing out there, having been out there all night. This ouk gets out of the chopper - the press was there, and all the sun was shining off this ou's rank. We couldn't see what rank he was. He shouted at me from about 50m away; `Hey, korporal. Kom hier.' [`Hey, corporal. Come here!'] `Wat?'[What?] I couldn't recognise what rank he was. I just thought; `Fuck off!' I'll ignore the ou. They went off and looked. We were standing there where it had happened, and this brass - he must have been a commandant or something like that. He was checking us out - we were all standing there. He says; `Leiutenant, hoekom het jou vokken manne nie geskeur nie?' [Lieutenant, why have your fucken men not shaved?] Fucken get real! What's wrong with these ous? Why haven't we had a shave? Fuck. I'm sure the Lootie wanted to brain him. He wanted to knock his block off.

After that they got the sappers in. This is the same time that we had sappers out there. They sent in these sappers. I was standing up on a high point on the hill, and I could check these ous getting their gear on. We didn't have mine sweeping equipment with us. These guys were ou manne; they were ready for klaaring out. I watched these guys. They walked around the corner, and they sat down and had a smoke. I thought; `You fuckers. You're there with the gear. You can check whether there are land mines around this area, and you're sitting there having a fucken smoke, and these ous think you're fucken doing your job break. This place is shit!' I got Naafi after that.

Then they decided to give us `mine awareness training'. We thought; `A bit early there, boys!' We had done all that shit back at base. Then we got sent out and they gave us mine sweeping equipment. This was the biggest joke. The fucken stuff didn't even graft. The Lootie stops us and says; `Right. We want to check this area.' We get out and we check it. We used to throw a one rand coin there, and then try and find it. Fuck all! He said; `Just carry on.' I said; `Fucken what? You just carry on. You get down here and you grip the thing, and you carry on. You want these ous to put their life on the line? The gear doesn't work, and you want them to sweep the road? You do it!' `Don't worry about it!' I said; `You fucken get off and do it.' Sometimes there was that sort of stupidity.

I tried to do things as they should have been done, and stick to the rules, and do the job properly. And you think; `These ous are just having a mess-around. Its a jorl [party] for them. For the Lootie and them to just sit there in the buffel; he wasn't a bad Loot - he was okay, but he used to take the piss sometimes.

I was in a long-term relationship at that time as well. Obviously you don't know how its going to go, but we had plans to get married when I got out. It did eventually go sour, but it was one of those things. My girlfriend at that time was in JCE. Obviously it was difficult. I was only home every four months or so, on a pass. Most of those were four-day passes. I only had two seven-day passes, and that was just after the Christmas period. I spent both of my Christmases, both of my new years and both my birthdays in the army which is bullshit. You were supposed to have at least one Christmas at home and one New Year. We were six days from pass, and they pulled our pass and cancelled our pass. We had other guys in the area. It wasn't like they had no one there to do the work. It was just uncalled for. For the first time that I was there, I thought: `Fuck this army. I'm going to AWOL.' We had just lost a guy - a guy had been killed in November - Cpl. Le Roux. The army's attitude towards the guy's death - it was so shit. We thought; `What should we give any patriotism to the country when they treat this ou like this?' None of the guys from his platoon were allowed to go to his funeral. We wanted to have an honour guard and to do a parade, but we weren't allowed to go out of the bush. There was one representative from the platoon sent to represent our platoon at the funeral. It was just all really shit. You think; `This guy's parents. They probably think it was a big deal, and they think a lot of the guy, or that his death actually served some purpose, but it was balls. Maybe he could have been killed in the street.

I remember when they came to resupply us with rations one time, and bring post and that out when we were on the mountain. We didn't get to fire weapons often. We had all this ammo and it was getting old, and the heads used to fall off. When you used to span your weapon and then take it out, and take it out and make safe, the heads start getting loose. We thought; `We've got to shoot some of this old ammo off, hey.' The Loot came up and he was giving the guys there post, and he was leaning over the buffel. There was a nice big cliff wall face straight across from us, and I had a 50-round magazine. I put the thing in Afrikaans and I let rip. Her kakked himself. `Hey, jou vokken poes ...' [`Hey, you fucken cunt!'] I said to him; `Hey, Lieutenant. This ammunition is old. I need to get rid of the shit.'

We got on all right most of the time. They used to go into the town a lot - a little one-horse mining town; Diepgeset. You'll probably find it on a map somewhere. The civvies that used to live there were all Afrikaans, and these ous went in there and were trying to get into the ous wives and all sorts of shit. One of them did! I still remember one of the corporals - the same corporal that I'm talking about now - I can't remember his name. I think it was Taljaard. I didn't mind the guy because I knew that he had knocked the shit out of this lieutenant Laing that was in basics with us one night. Laing - they eventually took his rank off him, because he came back from a disco in Paraborwa one night, pissed, and shot the fucken mess to bits with his R4. This guy had had a brawl with him in the town before this, and had knocked the shit oyt of him. Laing pulled a knife on him, and this corporal knocked his block off. Corporal Taljaard was quite a big ou. I thought; `Fucken lekker. For that the ou's in my good books.' I think he started with some ou's wife, and the ouy planted him - a big miner. He came in to base with a big fucken shiner, and we thought; `And now?' He said, ja, some ou had moered [beaten him up] him. That's what happens; the army ous are all out there; fifty ous trying to get into one woman's knickers. It was ridiculous. I've never seen the point of it at all.

The majority of our two years was spent in the Barberton area. That's where we sort of settled eventually. Ops Flora that we did there was looking for arms cache's. They had been tipped off that there were arms caches in the area. Fuck! You can't believe the jungle that you go through there . We were right in the heart of this valley [photos]. There were vines like in the Tarzan movies - vines this thick with thorns longer than anything that you've seen in your life. There was this undercarriage all along this river which we followed up right through the mountains. There were some [places] like this to climb.

My boet used to like carrying the patrol spade as well as his weapon. He used to chop these vines and bushes away with it. He said; `We can go up here.' `No, fuck!' We were carrying full kit now, and this was the new H-frame kit, and it was heavy. You had to climb up the sheer face, and you think; `Hey, fuck. I can't climb up there.' Eventually you get up there. They actually found - we thought we had scored because we were going through there - we had the doggies there with us that time, for sniffing our explosives or anything like that. We camped down one night and we got up in the morning and started chopping, and we started finding these markings. They said to us; `Look for such and such a marking. This is how they mark it out.' It was obviously intelligence that they had been given. It might have been bullshit - who knows? We started finding these markings along these trees. We thought; `Hey, this looks like the thing, hey!' We followed this thing all the way along and we checked embedded on the other side of the river in this flat rock face with a big rock pushed in in front of it - quite a long rock; probably over six feet long, and all the other little rocks pushed in around it. We thought; `Bingo! We had scored.' We pulled the rocks away, and the dog was sniffing away there. We thought; `If not explosives, then maybe guns or something.' We pulled it away, and there was a body. A skeleton. It must have been a grave that they had marked and buried him there. Why all the way down there, who knows? Maybe it was a murder, or something. The ous showed no fucken respect. The bones were dispersed, and the skull - they were clacking the jaws together and all that sort of shit. That was it.

We used to get credit sometimes if we caught gooks. One time near Swaziland we stuck a roadblock up and we caught three guys that were fucken gooks for sure. They had this matty hair like afro, stinking of kaffir-beer. They don't normally that that. They jumped across, and they got a taxi as they came through. We stopped the taxi, and the ous were standing there, and we pulled them out. We got a day off at Badplaas for that, which was all right. I still ended up moering my boet that night because he was trying to jump off the Samil when we were driving back because he was pissed. We had had a couple of beers. We only had two beers, but my boet probably had a couple more. The Loot and them stayed behind to party at the disco that night. My boet said; `Fuck that! Why should they stay, and we must go back to base. Fuck that!' He was going. We were doing about 80 k's an hour and my boet stands up, and he was going to jump off. I grabbed him, and I hit him. I said; `Fucken sit down! You'll kill yourself.' He was still lagging at me. Everyone in the truck was checking me out. My boet can be like that. He does stupid things. He's a good dude and I was glad to have him with me there all the time because it made it a bit easier. He can be a fucken animal. He's still the same. He's forty years old now. He goes out and gets drunk and comes back two days later and his missus doesn't know where he has been. He's calmed down a bit. If I've got a battle on my hands I would rather have my boet at my side, knowing that in that sort of situation I can rely on him.

You had the choice when you finished section leader's; you could choose to be a 2IC or a 1IC. 2IC was in charge of the mag group, and the 1IC was in charge of the section as such. My boet was older, but besides that I thought that if we were going to the border I would rather be with the maggers than the main group; I would have plenty of back-up! I wouldn't want to be up front walking point and being responsible for eight troeps behind me. I said that I would go 2IC - magger! Besides that, we would have been slit up otherwise anyway. When ever we were in base or anywhere, they used to say; `Korporal Crozier.' and I would say to my boet; `Hey, they're calling you.' He used to crack! `You're the two liner. They're calling you.'

Putting up a bivvy, sometimes - the two of us. Hells bells! My boet is a perfectionist. He would do all the channels and the rain sluice; this whole scientific bivvy. We would start a scrap because of a bivvy.

[Klaaring out] The OP on top of the Barberton Mountain range - that was my last seven days operational [photo]. I thought I was scoring a lot. They said; `Who wants to go sit up top this time?' I thought it would be bak ballas [crude version of `chill out'] `I'll go. I'll do that. I can do with some of that shit.' Fucken hell. When I saw the size of this mountain! When you used to look down you would see fucken aeroplanes flying past you. That's what it was like, hey. I remember we climbed up there, and the guys were saying; `Lets park here.' I said; `No. We must get to the top. You can't stick the aerial.' The lootie comes on the radio; `Where are you now? I can see you. Fucken go! Up top.' So we went up to me to set this thing up and it was fucken freezing. It was cold. In South Africa it can get cold in Winter. Hells bells! It was freezing. We thought; `Fuck this!' There was a little sending station up at the top of it, where they had all these boosters and stuff - a relay station. A little brick building but it was locked. We had a bivvy. We thought; `Fuck this! We're going to break into this place.' We tried to break into this place so we could sleep in this house. We couldn't get it right. We had to just stick it out for seven days in the freezing cold. We had out rat packs, and conversation runs dry when you've been with the same ous for two years, talking about things

(going through photographs)

Darren Adshead - he was the magger, so we became buddies. We were always on OPs together. I used to carry the night scopes on my rifle all the time. You know that it works in the day? Most people would probably think; `What are you doing with it in the daytime?' It had the cover on the front with the peephole - the pin hole in the front.

The Kevlar helmets etc, we only got that after basics. We still had the old stuff.

That was our first 14 day OP

Just before klaaring out, we had a bunch of sapper campers - after this incident with the bakkie and the mine, there were twelve coons or whatever killed sitting in the back - they were blown to fucking smithereens. My brother was just behind that vehicle because they put the mine there for the buffel, obviously. They used to come down here and turn on to the road. They used to drive along the road behind the koppie here and then drop the guys off at the Ops. They obviously knew the route -

The local guide said that he had seen someone in browns putting it there, which could either be bullshit ... or, you never know. Apparently there was a witness.

A couple of weeks before that some cops had hit one on a dirt road down at Barberton. They were blown up, but the cops survived. There was one out at Komatipoort. I guy had gone down in the morning. A guy was taking a tracker with a trailer on our route, and the trailer whacked it. Luckily he was okay. There were a couple of mine explosions where we were. We got these sapper campers in. One of our first drivers from Cathcart - Doherty - he was a Scots guy - he was told to go out and do a recovery, and one of these campers who was actually a tiffy. He was sitting in base sucking a bottle. We had no access to booze or anything like that. The campers could do what they wanted. He had been sipping a bottle of whiskey all day. Then they went out to do and do a recovery up in the mountain passes. He said to Doherty; `Come.' He wanted to drive. Doherty was a laid back ou, so he got in the back. This fucken idiot went off a cliff with a buffel. Doherty was killed. This was at 40 Days before we were to klaar out. When they went out to recover this vehicle they pulled Doherty out and they said that Doherty had been driving and all this bullshit. On the driver - you could actually see where he had hit the side of the cab inside the buffel when he went off the cliff. It had banged him here and here and he was split and he had black eyes. Just behind the drivers seat in the buffel was smeared with blood where Doherty had smashed his head. They had taken him out and they were taking him with the civvy ambulance to Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit. The Unimog was coming past and one of the rank guys and stopped the ambulance and said that he must be transported in a military vehicle. The guy said; `This guy is going to fucken die soon. We've got to get him.' `No, no, no!' They took him out, and he pegged on the way. They told his toppie [father] and them that he had had a driving accident and all that shit. It was all plain lies. The guy was drunk. He wasn't charged of fuck all for it. The camper came back into base with a couple of black eyes, but there was nothing wrong with him besides that. He got away with it really. He got away with murder. Really, because he was pissed and he drove that thing off a cliff. That's the way it goes. The parents are lied - they don't know the truth behind the story. Maybe its better that way? Its just something that happened at the time. We were pissed off about it big time because we had been through it with Le Roux already. We thought; `Fuck this. The sooner we get out of this, the better!' That's not a good way to leave at the end of it, when you've done your time, but I think at the end of it we were glad to get out.

There were guys who signed on PF for 10 years or whatever. Fucken hell! How could these guys - what made them think to carry on. Maybe it was because they were in more interesting fields, like intelligence and that sort of thing. That would have interested me, but for what we were doing, I thought; `This is rondvok from morning until night.' Every time we did something we got our balls tramped on.

We had a car run a road block one day. My brother fired two shots at the vehicle, and got into major shit from the police and everything else. We said; `What the fuck do you want us to do?' Do you want us to just sit here and let people do what they want to do. If we sit and bak bal [chill out] then you'll shit yourself, but if we arrest guys or we intervene, then we get shat on. What do you want us to do? We used minimum force. We didn't kill anyone. My brother could have mowed that fucken car. The stopper group that you've got on the roadblock a 100m away could have mowed that thing with the LMG. They didn't. We used minimum force. No-one was injured. What the fuck's your problem?'

`No, fucken ... We want the fucken round. You don't know who you shot ...' After that we thought; `Fuck this. Lets just sit and smoke some ganja in the bush. That's it.' That's how it ended up eventually. Not always, but if the guys happened to get hold of some grass from the locals, they guys would sit there, puff some weed and that's it. It didn't among to anything else. It was probably the wrong situation to have the guys in. Charlie Company before hand at 7 SAI - the earlier guys when we first went in went in to PE and they got into major shit because they did so many bad things there; they were raping maids and they were killing people. As the colonel always used to say; `Don't be like Charlie Company.' We weren't. Moist of the time there was minimal casualties. We didn't start major shit. Basically we were more a policing force than anything else. A peace keeping force.

Just after Le Roux was killed we got a guy who jumped across. I was actually sitting there watching through the binoculars and I saw this gut coming over the fence and coming through. I thought; `You're fucking nailed, bud!' Sitting there - it was pissing down - grass was nice and long. It must have been summer. We were all just sitting down in the grass for this guy. He was fucking gerook [smoked / drugged]- he was gone on tablets. He had loads of white tablets in his bag. He must have through that he was having hallucinations. He comes walking up through the bush, and suddenly all these fucken ous stand up pointing rifles at him. `Hey, come here!' My boet was pissed off big time because a week before he had just seen one of our buddies blown to bits. He said; `Fucken, come here, China!' My boet was going to shoot him. I tuned him; `No, don't shoot him.' [Was he a terr?] He could have been. What we found out ... We said to him; `Come here.' We searched his bags and we found a passport on him. I don't know if he was from Botswana or he was from somewhere else. He was quite an intelligent guy. He said; `They refused me entry there at the border post.' We said; `Well, what does that normally mean? It means that you don't fucken come in here. You cant just go traipsing all over the world like you own the place. It's the same as we can't. Borders are there to fucken stop people coming in where you are not wanted. What gives you the fucken right to be different?' `No, I am a teacher. I am educated. You can't stop ...' He was just talking shit. We said; `Look. Fuck you. You're not allowed. You've been refused. You've been refused for a reason.' I think he was probably a gook or he was ANC related or linked, because he was clever. He had different stamps in his passport, like from America, so he had been around. My boet said; `Fuck you!"' and klapped him down and stuck his rifle in the back of his head. I said; `You can't fucken shoot the guy. You're pissed off now, but in the future - you never know what the ou's story is. Take him in to the cops. Give him to them. Intelligence will get out of him whatever they want to. The intelligence that they had there was two rottweilers in the charge office. That was about the amount of intelligence.' My brother said; `Pick up that rock and carry it.' It was probably about 6 clicks out to where the police base was - also a bush base - where the cops were. We used to take them through there and drop them off. They would interrogate them, and if they were jumpers they would send them back, and if they were gooks they would lock them up. From then on it was out of our hands. We just did the delivery. That's how it was.

It was two months before I klaared out [Cleared out] that we actually broke up with the girl that I had been going out with for six years. I had actually been home on pass - I came back and I was back a week. We had a relay-pass system; half the platoon went on pass and half stayed in the bush. They came back, relief, and the other guys went. One of the guys was in town and saw my girlfriend in a club there, with a couple of guys hanging on her, and she was kissing one of the guys. It came back to me. You get to find out eventually. I bullshitted her; `How's things going? How you doing?' `No, no! She's been fine. She was at home this weekend. She's stayed at home.' I said; `You're talking shit. I know where you were. And what you've been up to.' She went quiet, and I knew straight away, and I thought `That's it!'

I'm not going to hold you to anything any more. Cheers, man! That was it. I said; `When I get out, we'll have a look at it again, and if anything's worth following up, we'll do it.' When I got out she had made up her mind that she wasn't interested. I was gone. That was it. She'd changed a lot. She was still a teacher. She had started teaching at my old high school ...

She was modelling then when I was dating her. She was just such a good chick. But she's changed, and gone on a bender. She was a big part of my life. I was surprisingly subdued about the whole thing. I would have thought that I would have taken it a lot worse. I had to be realistic. I wasn't there for four months on the trot - the chick's going to get lonely. She's there and I'm not there. She can't hang around forever, although we tried that. We went as far as - like I said - two months before I klaared out. It was okay. I still got mail from her, which was good. It was always grand to get post. Then that was it. It ended.

After that it was uitklaar and we went back to 7 SAI for a chill out period of about two weeks. [`Chill out' is not a phrase one associates with 7 SAI!] It was a bit more relaxed, but it wasn't totally. It was practicing drill and this and that and everything else. I can remember just before we met my folks in the car park. We had just met them and I had a smoke in my hand, and I said to ; `We're going to the parade ground.' This roweraal of an RP comes up to me - I'm an ou man. I'm klaaring out in an hour. He says; `Luister. Jy moenie vokken loop en rook nie, hoor!' [`Listen. You musn't walk and smoke. Okay?] `What? What have you been smoking? Are you fucken mental or what?'

I went like this [gesture??]. I said; `Ek vokkoff vandag. [`I'm fucking off today!'] Fuck you!' I'm going.' One of the guys who works with my buddy Mark now, was an RP Roddy Hoyak. He was an RP there when we were there. We tune him'; `Ja, you were a big poes, Roddie.‘ He's an all right guy - he's a decent dude - and Afrikaans guy from Secunda; he pumps iron and does steroids and all that. He used to shud [shake] our bags,. We remembered him. He was a real piss-ou. We can remember these ous - the things that they used to do. You just felt intimidated all the time. You never relaxed for a second. You couldn't do this. `Wat doen jy? Staan regop!' [`What are you doing? Stand up straight!'] the whole time. That's why we enjoyed being out there on our own. We did our own thing. We did it with the best intentions. Occasionally there was a bit of malice here and there, but that was just to get a bit of the adrenalin out.

When I think of what some of the other guys have done, what we did was boring

Published: 6 October 2002.

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