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Hoe om ’n heel vis oop te braai - laat waai met Jan Braai!

Wanneer jy ’n vars vis reg braai, sal dit vir seker ’n wonderlike maaltyd wees, ’n anker in ’n wêreld vol onsekerheid.

Ek kan eenvoudig nie genoeg beklemtoon hoe belangrik dit is dat die vis vars moet wees nie. Soos ek vroeër genoem het, kan jy ’n heel vis ‘oop’ of ‘toe’ braai, dit hang van jou smaak af. As jy hom oop braai, is ’n groter deel van die vis aan die hitte en braaigeure blootgestel en word hy ook vinniger gaar.

Die belangrikste stuk toerusting vir die resep is ’n toeklaprooster – moenie jou simpel hou en die vis daarsonder probeer draai nie.

Vis soos geelbek, kabeljou en geelstert is gewilde braaivis, maar daar is ook baie ander soorte wat jy kan toets. Vra raad by jou vishandelaar en maak seker die vis is nie op die lys van bedreigde spesies nie. Laat die vishandelaar jou vis se binnegoed uithaal, sy kop verwyder en sy skubbe afkrap. As jy self die vis gevang het, weet jy seker hoe om die dinge te doen.

(1,5 kg vis is genoeg vir 4 mense; 2 kg vir 6 mense)
1 heel, vars vis (iets soos geelbek, kabeljou of geelstert)
koppie botter (gesmelt)
4 huisies knoffel (opgekap)
2 suurlemoene se sap
1 sopie gekapte pietersielie
olyf- of sonneblomolie
sout en peper

1. Smelt die botter en meng die knoffel, suurlemoensap en pietersielie by. Jy gaan dié sous gebruik om die vis mee te bedruip terwyl hy braai.
2. ’n ‘Oop’ vis het twee kante, ’n vleiskant en ’n velkant. Smeer of verf die olie aan albei kante en maal dan die sout en peper oor die vleiskant.
3. Sit die vis in ’n toeklaprooster en braai op matige tot warm kole met die vleiskant na onder vir omtrent 3 tot 4 minute, totdat die vleis ’n ligte goue kleur kry. Draai nou die rooster om en braai die vis met die vel kole se kant toe totdat hy gaar is. Altesame sal die braaityd tussen 14 en 20 minute wees en afhang van die grootte van die vis, die hoogte van die rooster en die hitte van die vuur. Verf die vis deurlopend met die sous. Al moet jy dit tot ’n minimum probeer beperk, moet jy jou nie te veel daaroor bekommer as die velkant plek-plek effens brand nie – jy gaan nie die vel eet nie. Ek sien visvel as ’n natuurlike tipe foelie.
4. Die vis is gereed wanneer die vleis wit geword het, van die grate af wegtrek wanneer jy daaraan wikkel, en vlok wanneer jy ’n vurk insteek. Onthou die goue reël: As jy dink hy’s reg, is hy waarskynlik reg.

EN . . .
’n Vis wat effens kleiner is, kom ons sê so 1,3 kg, met sy kop en stert verwyder, pas lekker saam met vier
halwe krewe op ’n gewone toeklaprooster. Jy kan dit saam braai vir 14 minute en só ’n top-klas ete vir
vier mense berei.



"The long walk continues" - eight quotes to remember Nelson Mandela by

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as the first democratically elected president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Born on 18 July 1918, Mandela passed away on 5 December 2013.

The United Nations officially declared 18 July International Mandela Day in November 2009; ever since it has been celebrated annually as a day dedicated to honouring Mandela’s life and legacy.

Here are eight quotes, as published in Nelson Mandela by Himself: The Authorised Book of Quotations in the section titled ‘Freedom’, to remember this remarkable man by:

“It is the task of a new generation to lead and take responsibility; ours has done as well as it could in its time.”
- From a message to the launch of the ANC election manifesto and ninety-seventh anniversary celebrations, Absa Stadium, East London, South Africa, 10 January 2009

“We are too old to pretend to be able to contribute to the resolution of those conflicts and tensions on the international front. It is, therefore, immensely gratifying to note a younger generation of African statespersons emerging. They will be able to speak with authority about a new world order in which people everywhere will live in equality, harmony and peace.”
- At the fifth annual Nelson Mandela Lecture, Linder Auditorium, Johannesburg, South Africa, 22 July 2007

“The long walk continues.”
- Final sitting of the first democratically elected parliament, Cape Town, South Africa, 26 March 1999

“The road we have walked has been built by the contribution of all of us; the tools we have used on that road had been fashioned by all of us; the future we face is that of all of us, both in its promises and its demands.”
- At the inauguration of a monument to passive restistance, Umbilo Park, Durban, South Africa, 27 May 2002

“Our vision for the future is one of renewed dedication by world leaders in all fields of human interaction to a twenty-first century of peace and reconciliation.”
- Accepting the German Media Prize, Baden-Baden, Germany, 28 January 1999

“All South Africans face the challenge of coming to terms with the past in ways which will enable us to face the future as a united nation at peace with itself.”
- At the inter-faith commissioning service for the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission), St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, South Africa, 13 February 1996

“Let us together turn into reality the glorious vision of a South Africa free of racism. Free of racial antagonisms among our people. No longer a threat to peace. No longer the skunk of the world. Our common victory is certain.”
- Address to the International Labour Conference, Geneva, Switzerland, 8 June 1990

“We can build a society grounded on friendship and our common humanity – a society founded on tolerance. That is the only road open to us. It is a road to a glorious future in this beautiful country of ours. Let us join hands and march into the future.”
- From an announcement of the election date, multi-party negotiations process, Kempton Park, South Africa, 17 November 1993

Book details

"I am reminded that my son was indeed greatly loved, and is still missed by countless others, too – that I am not alone." An excerpt from The Twinkling of an Eye

The Twinkling of an EyeTwelve-year-old Craig Brown is a high-achiever at one of the country’s top schools. He is smart, popular and adored by his family – an exuberant boy who dreams of going ‘straight to the big time’ as a high-flying lawyer.

Then a series of inexplicable events turns Craig’s world inside out: he develops academic problems and is accused of being a bully.

There’s vomiting, migraines and facial paralysis. An MRI scan reveals that a cancerous tumour, the size of a golf ball is slowly colonising Craig’s bright young brain. Now his parents must confront a grim reality: that their child’s high school years will be spent fighting for his life.

Told through the eyes of his mother, Sue Brown, this transformative tale charts Craig’s extraordinary battle, Brown’s personal struggles, and, above all, a mother’s heroic ability to face the unthinkable. Told with courage, humour and heart, this life-affirming memoir reveals that there is indeed a light that shines in the very darkest of places


‘Little man,’ I said, ‘tell me that it is only a bad dream, this affair of the snake, and the meeting place, and the star …’
– The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Craig clatters, two steps at a time, down the wide wooden staircase of our big Victorian home. Slowing only briefly to take the corners, and all dressed in his khaki school uniform, punctuated by the dark-and-light blue stripes of the Bishops Preparatory School tie. His hastily tucked in shirt tails are already escaping from underneath his navy pullover.

The ten-to-eight chapel bell peals out across the clear, cold outside.

Craig hops on one leg while pulling up the other long grey sock, stubbornly slipping down.

‘Quick Mom, I’m going to be late!’ his gravelly voice urges. He has shoved his homework folder and piano file into his outsized navy backpack: its transparent little window still reads, ‘Craig Brown, 6A.’ I breathe in his warm-from-bed boy smell, relishing that round, earnest face so close to me again.

The two of us half walk, half jog, to his nonstop, excited chatter.

Looking right and left as we cross Stone Pine Avenue, then onto the dew-wet grass of the rugby fields, the mown cuttings clogging the soles of our shoes. The sun is just lighting up the top of Table Mountain, where some first-light mist clings.

I feel anxious as we near the classroom buildings. How will Craig’s now-teenaged friends react to finding him in their midst again? How can I possibly explain to the teachers that we were wrong in believing the worst – that our son was terminally ill two years ago, when suddenly here he stands, still just the same age … still twelve years old?

Then I remember we have an appointment with his neuro- surgeon in the afternoon. He will hopefully be able to clear up all my confusion, I’m sure. I imagine him ordering new brain scans that will show what actually became of those rampant tumours – too many to count – on those last nightmare scans … after which we stopped looking.

In this subterranean dream dawn, I find great comfort in this conceived proximity to my son. The dream’s perplexities cause me to struggle up, through heavy layers of sleep, to perforate the surface of a common new day.

Our two cats are heat-seeking dead weights against me, resistant to being shifted as I adjust to my bearings to the inside of this smaller house, where we moved after Craig died. From where we no longer have to hear his school chapel bells toll each morning, a trumpet practice in the afternoon, or the bounce of tennis balls in the evening.

Soon Neil’s radio alarm will sound, and he will leave for his day’s work as a fund manager. I will wake our daughter, and drive her through the winding, tree-lined roads of Wynberg to
Springfield Convent School in Cape Town’s southern suburbs.

Where this achingly beautiful autumn morning will speak of the magnificent world still awaiting her.

And I will say, ‘Goodbye, love you,’ to her closing car door, with that longing to hover, to intercept all the heartache that life must still bring her way. That maternal need-to-protect so magnified (if that was ever possible) by my helpless observance of her brother’s brave reckoning with his own, impending death.

Craig’s absence in the car is a real, raw presence on the drive home, so I turn on the radio for some distraction. Owl City’s Adam Young, Craig’s favourite artist, is singing a new hit which
he will never hear, about a shooting star shining. It hurts more than the quiet, so I snap it off, and tears smart.

At home Craig’s little dog ‘Russell’, named after the Jack Russell part of his mix, waits impatiently for a walk, which keeps me from seeking escape in a little more sleep. The city hums at the foot of Table Mountain as it gears up for the day’s routine and, when Russell and I return, our Virginia creeper is glowing with its own, scarlet light. And there are brightly painted pansy faces in the blue pot at the door. A friend pops in for tea, and I am reminded that my son was indeed greatly loved, and is still missed by countless others, too – that I am not alone.

My head tells me that all of our days are numbered; that we will all be where he is, one day. In an eternal form – impossible to comprehend, even dream, this side of death – where the pain
of loss does not exist. But it is hope enough for a welling up of great thankfulness for this child, with whom I was entrusted for his thirteen years.

Book details

Fiction Friday: read Bushra al-Fadil's winning entry for the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing

The Sudanese writer Bushra al-Fadil was announced as the winner of the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing on 3 July. His story, “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, translated by Max Shmookler, was published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction (Comma Press, UK, 2016).

Press release from the Caine Prize for African Writing:

Bushra al-Fadil has won the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for his short story entitled “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, translated by Max Shmookler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction (Comma Press, UK. 2016). The Chair of Judges, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, announced Bushra al-Fadil as the winner of the £10,000 prize at an award dinner this evening (Monday, 3 July) held for the first time in Senate House, London, in partnership with SOAS as part of their centenary celebrations. As a translated story, the prize money will be split – with £7,000 going to Bushra and £3,000 to the translator, Max Shmookler.

“The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away” vividly describes life in a bustling market through the eyes of the narrator, who becomes entranced by a beautiful woman he sees there one day. After a series of brief encounters, tragedy unexpectedly befalls the woman and her young female companion.

Nii Ayikwei Parkes praised the story, saying, “the winning story is one that explores through metaphor and an altered, inventive mode of perception – including, for the first time in the Caine Prize, illustration – the allure of, and relentless threats to freedom. Rooted in a mix of classical traditions as well as the vernacular contexts of its location, Bushra al-Fadil’s “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, is at once a very modern exploration of how assaulted from all sides and unsupported by those we would turn to for solace we can became mentally exiled in our own lands, edging in to a fantasy existence where we seek to cling to a sort of freedom until ultimately we slip into physical exile.”

Bushra al-Fadil is a Sudanese writer living in Saudi Arabia. His most recent collection Above a City’s Sky was published in 2012, the same year Bushra won the al-Tayeb Salih Short Story Award. Bushra holds a PhD in Russian language and literature.

Read “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away” here:

The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away
Bushra al-Fadil

Translated by Max Shmookler

There I was, cutting through a strange market crowd – not just people shopping for their salad greens, but beggars and butchers and thieves, prancers and Prophet-praisers and soft-sided soldiers, the newly-arrived and the just-retired, the flabby and the flimsy, sellers roaming and street kids groaning, god-damners, bus-waiters and white-robed traders, elegant and fumbling.

And there in the midst, our elected representatives, chasing women with their eyes and hands and whole bodies, with those who couldn’t give chase keeping pace with an indiscrete and
sensual attention, or lost in a daydream.

I cut, sharp-toothed, carving a path through the crowd when a passerby clutched his shoulder in pain, followed by a ‘Forgive me!’ Then a scratch on a lady’s toe was followed with a quick ‘Oh no!’ Then a slap to another’s cheek, after which was heard ‘Forgiveness is all I seek!’

So lost in dreams I could not wait for their reply to my apology.

The day was fresher than a normal summer day, and I could feel delight turbaned around my head, like a Bedouin on his second visit to the city. The working women were not happy like me, nor were the housewives. I was the son of the Central Station, spider-pocketed, craning my neck to see a car accident or the commotion of a thief being caught. I was awake, descending into the street, convulsing from hunger and the hopeless search for work in the ‘cow’s muzzle’, as we say.

I suppressed my unrest. The oppressed son of the oppressed but despite all of that – happy. Could the wretched wrest my happiness from me? Hardly. Without meaning to, I wandered through these thoughts.

The people around me were a pile of human watermelons, every pile awaiting its bus. I approached one of the piles and pulled out my queuing tools – an elbow and the palm of my hand – and then together they helped my legs to hold up my daily depleted and yearly defeated body. I pulled out my eyes and began to look… and look… in all directions and to store away what I saw.

I saw a blind man looking out before him as if he were reading from that divine book which preceded all books, that book of all fates. He kept to himself as he passed before me but still I felt the coins in my pocket disappear. Then I saw a woman who was so plump that when she called out to her son – ‘Oh Hisham’ – you could feel the greasy resonance of the ‘H’ in your ears. I saw a frowning man, a boy weaving an empty tin can along the ground with his feet. I saw voices and heard boundless scents and then, suddenly, in the midst of all of that, I saw her. The dervish in my heart jumped.

I saw her: soaring without swaying, her skin the colour of wheat – not as we know it but rather as if the wheat were imitating her tone. She had the swagger of a soldier, the true heart of the people. And if you saw her, you’d never be satiated. I said to myself, ‘This is the girl whose birds flew away.’

Her round face looked like this: Her nose was like a fresh vegetable and by God, what eyes! A pharaonic neck with two taut slender chords, only visible when she turned her head. And when she turned her head, I thought all the women selling their mashed beans and salted sunflower seeds would flee, the whole street would pick up and leave only ruts where they had been, the fetid stench of blood would abandon the places where meat was sold. My thoughts fled to a future I longed for. And if you poured water over the crown of her head, it would flow down past her forehead.

She walked in waves, as if her body were an auger spiralling through a cord of wood.

She approached me. I looked myself over and straightened myself out. As she drew closer, I saw she was holding tight to a little girl who resembled her in every way but with a child’s chubbiness. Their hands were woven together as if they had been fashioned precisely in that manner, as if they were keeping each other from straying. They both knit their eyebrows nonchalantly, such that their eyes flashed, seeming to cleanse their faces from the famished stares of those around them.

‘This is the girl whose birds flew away,’ I said.

I turned to her sister and said, ‘And this must be the talisman she’s brought to steer her away from evil. How quickly her calm flew from her palm.’

I stared at them until I realised how loathsome I was in comparison. It was this that startled me, not them. I looked carefully at the talisman. Her mouth was elegant and precise as if she never ate the stewed okra that was slowly poisoning me. I glanced around and then I looked back at them, looked and looked – oh how I looked! – until a bus idled up and abruptly saved the
day. Although it was not their custom, the people made way for the two unfamiliar women, and they just hopped aboard. Through the dust kicked up by the competition around the door I found myself on the bus as well.

We lumbered forward. The man next to me was smoking and the man next to him smelled as if he were stuffed with onions. If the day were not so fresh, and were it not for the girl and her talisman and their aforementioned beauty, I would have gotten off that wretched bus without a word of apology. After five minutes, the onionised man lowed to the driver: ‘This’s my stop, buddy.’

He got off and slammed the door in a way that suggested the two of them had a long and violent history. The driver rubbed his right cheek as if the door had been slammed on him. He grumbled to himself, ‘People without a shred of mercy.’

The onion man reeled back around and threw a red eye at the driver. ‘What?’ he exploded. ‘What’d you say?’

‘Get going, by God!’ I yelled. ‘He wasn’t talking about you.’

As the bus pulled away, the onionised man’s insults and curses blended with the whine of the motor. As if the driver wanted to torment us, he continued the argument as a monologue, beginning, ‘People are animals…’

Continue reading here.

Two funky crochet patterns from Hello, Crochet

In this unusual crochet book, each pattern is used as a base for four different interpretations, depending on your style – bohemian, artistic, contemporary or romantic.

The patterns range in difficulty, and include pretty things for yourself, your home, babies and children, and for use as gifts.

There are also suggestions for using the same pattern for more than one project.

The perfect book for anyone who loves to crochet.

Take a sneak peek into Hello, Crochet

Mini Petals
Combine the two designs, one with a two-dimensional flower and the other one with a three-dimensional flower, to create texture and an interesting pattern.
Size: 8 x 8 cm
Colours: Two colours are used for these patterns
Difficulty rating: Relatively easy

With colour 1; crochet 4 ch, join into ring with ss in 1st ch.
Rnd 1: 3 ch, 7 dc in ring, ss in top of beg-3 ch. Fasten off.
Rnd 2: with colour 2; 5 ch, *1 dc in next dc, 2 ch; rep from
* to end, ss in 3rd of 5 ch.
Rnd 3: 1 ch, 1 sc in the same st, 2 sc in 2 ch-sp, *1 sc in
next dc, 2 sc in 2 ch-sp; rep from * to end, ss in beg-sc.
Fasten off.
Rnd 4: with colour 1; 1 ch, 1 sc in the same st, 1 dc in next
sc, 2 tr in next 2 sc, 1 dc in next sc, 1 hdc in next sc, (1 sc
in next sc, 1 dc in next sc, 2 tr in next 2 sc, 1 dc in next sc,
1 hdc in next sc) 3 times, ss in beg-sc. Fasten off.
Rnd 5: with colour 2; join yarn in 1st dc with 1 ch, 1 sc in
the same st, 1 sc in next st, 2 sc in next 2 sts, 1 sc in next
2 sts, 1 spike st (in rnd 3) in next 2 sts, (1 sc in next
2 sts, 2 sc in next 2 sts, 1 sc in next 2 sts, 1 spike st in
next 2 sts) 3 times, ss in beg-sc. Fasten off.
Rnd 6: with colour 1 (work in back loops); 3 ch in st just
after the spike st, 1 dc in the same st, 1 hdc in next sc,
1 sc in next sc, 2 ch, skip 2 sc, (1 sc in next sc, 1 hdc in
next sc, 2 dc in next sc, 2 tr in next sc, 1 picot, 2 tr in
next sc, 2 dc in next sc, 1 hdc in next sc, 1 sc in next sc,
2 ch, skip 2 sc) 3 times, 1 sc in next sc, 1 hdc in next sc,
2 dc in next sc, 2 tr in next sc, 1 picot, 2 tr in next sc, ss
in beg-3 ch. Fasten off.
Rnd 7: Complete this rnd for the 1st motif only.
Crochet the 2nd and following motifs together in
this rnd. With colour 2; join yarn in 2 ch-sp with 1 ch,
1 sc in the same st, 1 sc in next 6 sts, (1 sc, 5 ch, 1 sc) in
next picot, 1 sc in next 6 sts, [1 sc in 2 ch-sp, 1 sc in next
6 sts, (1 sc, 5 ch, 1 sc) in next picot, 1 sc in next 6 sts]
3 times, ss in beg-sc. Fasten off.

Rose Hat

Perfect for wearing while cutting roses for the house, this hat is made with variegated yarn that looks faded for real old-world charm. The little roses on the side band are reminiscent of roses on an antique porcelain tea set. Wear this hat for a romantic, relaxed look.

Difficulty rating: Easy
• 2 x 50 g Elle Premier 4 ply
• 1 x 50 g Elle Premier 4 ply
• 1 x 50 g Elle Premier 4 ply
Crochet hook
3–3,5 mm
Finished size
Adult hat approximately 60 cm
Special technique
Crab stitch (see page 161)
• Stitch marker
• Tapestry needle
• Scissors
See anatomy of hat on
page 46.

Use Bleuet for rnds 1 and 2 of MOTIF 1 on page 198 and
continue in Bleuet with:
Rnd 3: ch 3, (work 4 trs in next ch-sp, tr in top of 3 tr-gr) 7 times,
work 4 trs in next ch-sp, ss in 3rd ch at beg of rnd 3.
Rnd 4: ch 3, [tr 2 tog, ch 3, tr 3 tog] in same sp as last ss of rnd 3,
(ch 3, skip 4 trs, [tr 3 tog, ch 3, tr 3 tog] in next tr) 7 times, ch 3,
ss in top of 1st tr-gr of rnd 4.
Rnd 5: ch 3, (work 4 trs in next ch-sp, tr in top of 3 tr-gr) 15
times, work 4 trs in next ch-sp, ss in 3rd ch at beg of rnd 5.
Rnd 6: ch 3, [tr 2 tog, ch 2, tr 3 tog] in same sp as last ss of rnd 5,
(ch 2, skip 4 trs, [tr 3 tog, ch 2, tr 3 tog] in next tr) 15 times, ch 2,
ss in top of 1st tr-gr of rnd 6.
Rnd 7: ch 3, (work 3 trs in next ch-sp, tr in top of 3 tr-gr) 31
times, work 3 trs in next ch-sp, ss in 3rd ch at beg of rnd 7,
fasten off.
Use pattern for MOTIF 1 on page 198 and crochet:
Rnd 1: Millstone
Rnd 2: Moss


Hello, Crochet

Book details

"I injected myself in the muscle with morphine to cut off the pain" - an excerpt from Cuito Cuanavale

It is September 1987. The Angolan Army – with the support of Cuban troops and Soviet advisors – has built up a massive force on the Lomba River near Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola. Their goal? To capture Jamba, the headquarters of the rebel group Unita, supported by the South African Defence Force (SADF) in the so-called Border War.

In the battles that followed, and shortly thereafter centred around the small town of Cuito Cuanavale, 3 000 SADF soldiers and 8 000 Unita fighters were up against a much bigger Angolan and Cuban force of over 50 000 men.

Thousands of soldiers died in the vicious fighting that is described in vivid detail in this book. Bridgland pieced together this account through scores of interviews with SADF men who were on the front line. This dramatic retelling takes the reader to the heart of the action.

The final battles of the war in 1987 and 1988 had an impact far beyond the borders of Namibia and Angola. They not only spelled the end of the last great neo-colonial attempts at African conquest by Cuba and the former Soviet Union, but also made possible the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa.

Fred Bridgland is a veteran British foreign correspondent and author who covered the Angolan civil war and the Border War for Reuters as an Africa correspondent in the 1970s and then for the Sunday Telegraph and The Scotsman in the 1980s. In 1975 his discovery of South Africa’s secret US-engineered invasion of Angola uncovered the CIA’s involvement in the Angolan civil war, and was a world scoop. Bridgland has written a number of books and has just completed a biography of Winnie Mandela.

Read an excerpt from Cuito Cuanavale:

Sergeant Mac da Trinidada, the black Angolan recce group leader, had continued to enjoy an exciting life after the decisive 3 October battle with 47 Brigade on the Lomba.

‘My team was sent north after that to track Fapla’s 59 Brigade on the western side of the Cunzumbia River and 21 Brigade on the eastern side,’ said Da Trinidada. ‘We were there for something like three weeks with our artillery bombarding their positions, and their artillery bombarding the SADF positions. With other recce teams and small infantry groups we were hitting their logistics routes from behind with mines, hit-and-run guerrilla ambushes and automatic ambushes.

Commander of 20 SA Brigade. Colonel P. S. Fouché with two M-46 Russian artillery pieces taken by the SADF during the Operation Hooper attack on 21 Brigade.


‘We reconnoitred possible crossing points on the Cuito River, scouted for Commandant Hartslief on the Mianei, and then after a short leave back at Fort Buffalo we were assigned to Mike Muller’s Combat Group Bravo. On 11 November we led Commandant Muller’s 61 Mech units into positions south of the Vimpulo while Combat Group Charlie tried to stop 21 and 25 Brigades crossing the river. There were lots of enemy patrols in the area because 21/25 Brigades were retreating fast from the Mianei towards the Vimpulo.

South African 155-mm G-5 artillery on the outskirts of Cuito Cuanavale pounding Cuban and Angolan positions. The guns were carefully camouflaged against enemy air attacks.


I went out with Corporal Branco on 12 November to try to locate the enemy concentrations, but we couldn’t get to close quarters because of the heavy patrolling. The next day we got near and we brought in our Mirages to bomb them and then brought in G-5 fire.

Branco and I followed 21/25 Brigades as they retreated, trying to bring 61 Mech in on their tracks from behind to complement the big Combat Group Charlie ambush on the Vimpulo.

Captain John Mortimer in a Casspir attached to an SADF/UNITA liaison team; he stood in for Les Rudman’s team during their home leave.


‘On 14 November 21/25 Brigades began another sprint towards the Vimpulo at about 4 pm. Branco and I followed their tank tracks for about four kilometres before I radioed to 61 Mech that they should get ready to attack. What I hadn’t realised at first was that the 21 Brigade had left some of their tanks behind at their old position to the south. We moved towards it and they shot at us with 12.7 mm guns mounted on top of the tanks. We were only two guys, so we aren’t an easy target.

Bushmen of the SADF’s 201 Battalion played an important role in the war. Although they operated as machinegunners, drivers, signallers, medics and mortarmen, their most remarkable skill was tracking, following nigh-on invisible spoor at great speed.

‘We radioed Mike Muller to tell him not to come in after all, and then Branco and I started working our way eastwards with the eventual intention of moving northwards to link up with another recce team. We were wearing Fapla uniforms, and as we withdrew on the eastern side in the early hours (on 15 November) we ran into UNITA. Two hundred men were setting up an ambush there and we hadn’t been warned about it. They opened fire on us. I felt my AK-47 fall down from my right hand as I was on the radio to my people telling them I was pinned down in a UNITA ambush and somebody had better order them to stop shooting. Then there was heavy shooting again all around me. Branco and I “bombshelled” away from each other and started running. I had to drop my heavy kit, including my radio. I stopped after I’d run about two kilometres. It was only then that I became aware of the pain. A UNITA bullet had gone through my forearm and shattered one of the bones. There was a lot of blood and several nerves had been cut, although I didn’t know it at the time. I decided to treat myself from the medicine in the small emergency survival kit we carry in a special pocket in case you lose everything else. It ensures you can last for two days.

South African missile crew with French-designed Crotale missile battery. It is known as the Cactus missile in South Africa. One of the missiles had been fired at an attacking Mig-23 without success.

‘I injected myself in the muscle with morphine to cut off the pain. I bandaged it and then assessed my position. All I had was my big pocket knife, my survival food, a small compass and my maps. So I knew where I was, but without the radio I couldn’t communicate my situation to base. I ran south all day towards a 32 Battalion post 17 km from where I had had the contact with UNITA. All the way I was losing a lot of blood. I had to keep stopping to strip bark from chimwanje trees to use as rope to renew the tourniquet I had tied at the top of my arm. I wasn’t too worried at first about the wound, but I didn’t want to look at it. Later I began to get dizzy and I started thinking: when am I going to find people to help me?

Troops clamber over an Angolan Air Force, Russianbuilt Mi-8 assault helicopter shot down during the battles. This helicopter is codenamed Hip by NATO.


‘I reached the 32 Battalion post at about 5 pm. Captain Jako Potgieter (an artillery officer) was in command and I asked him for a cigarette. He had to hold it for me because I couldn’t keep it steady. At first, the captain thought I was shot in the body because there was blood everywhere and my trousers were soaked with it. Then there was an argument between the captain and the doctor. Potgieter wanted me to tell him what had happened, but the doctor wanted to start work on me. The captain said: “Let me have a quick word with him before you put him under the anaesthetic.” All I remember telling him was to change the radio codes because I’d lost my code booklet and that I’d left a flask of whisky in my kit. I always carried it to put it in my coffee when it was cold.

‘In fact, Potgieter already knew it was UNITA who had fired on us.  UNITA had reported they were involved in a contact with a whole battalion of Fapla, although it was only Branco and me. UNITA had  picked  up my kit, weapon and webbing and then realised we weren’t Fapla.

‘The doctor put me under at about 7 pm and I woke up just before 6 pm the next day [Monday 16 November] with my right arm and hand entirely encased in plaster. I was in the military hospital at Rundu. They had flown me there by helicopter at about three o’clock that morning.

The next day I was joined by the Lieutenant [de Villiers Vos] who had been wounded in his shoulder in the battle against 21/25 Brigades on the Hube. I was on a drip, but the Lieutenant sat talking to me.

He said Sergeant Mendes [of the 32 Battalion recces] had got my kit back from UNITA but had drunk all of the whisky in my flask.’

Cuito Canavale

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Cuito Cuanavale is also available as an eBook.