Kiron Solari Kiron is a somber European man who devotes most of his time to making money, reading, working out and plotting revenge against the people who turned the world upside down. The astute few, however, quickly realized that this seemingly chaotic surge had a clear purpose: And even though the white man was greatly outnumbered, with hands tied by political treachery and cowardice, there still were plenty who stood and fought in an epic struggle that continues to this day.
Mozambique became a typical African dictatorship, while Angola was split between three armed groups: Unfortunately, MPLA still managed to assume power in Angola, and it was not long before it found a new target: South West Africa, a mineral-rich protectorate of South Africa. Fill your head with Marxist communist ideologies. Pick up an RPG-7, an AK and some landmines and hand grenades, put on a Cuban or Chinese camouflage uniform and march across the border of another country.
Abduct the schoolchildren at gunpoint, march them to your training bases to indoctrinate them and fill their heads with your bullshit to force them to do what you are doing. But SADF, despite being very adept at conventional warfare, lacked the flexibility needed to intercept SWAPO raiding parties, not to mention that at the time it was not allowed to cross the Angolan border.
Invading guerrillas could only be tackled by something much swifter and far less hierarchical than the army — something that South Africa did not have.
Securing the full length of the Angolan-SWA border required tens of thousands of troops. Instead, he opted for a highly mobile hunter-killer unit that would track and pursue guerrillas across immense distances. Operating on a shoestring budget, Dreyer managed to recruit 60 Ovambos and 6 white police officers to man two pickups and two cars, arming them with trophy weapons.
His detractors were in stitches over this ragtag outfit, but quickly went silent when in , after seven days of pursuit, it intercepted a terrorist warband, killing two. Three years later, Dreyer went to the higher-ups with statistics. Despite the massive military presence at the Angolan border, Ops K had more enemy contacts and kills than all of the deployed units combined. Backed into a corner by undeniable facts, the MoD finally started coughing up money.
Koevoet was split into battlegroups, each comprised of approximately 40 Ovambos, 4 whites, 4 Casspirs bristling with weapons and a Blesbok supply vehicle. The groups patrolled the bush in week-long shifts, visiting villages and inquiring about SWAPO sightings. The moment spoor was picked up, the hunt was on: Ovambos would run in front, pointing out the spoor with long sticks, with Casspirs following closely behind, gunners on top watching for ambushes.
When the enemy was close but not yet visible, a Casspir or two would often leap-frog ahead of the main group in order to prevent them from scattering or cut off a possible escape route. The moment a contact was made, trackers would hit the ground while Casspirs rushed in, encircling the enemy in a hail of gunfire and bursts of white phosphorus grenades.
Even by African standards, Koevoet was an anomaly. If carrying out military operations as a desegregated police unit in an apartheid state was not enough, the unorthodox tactic they employed put them at extreme risk. Casspirs, while bullet- and mine-proof, offered no protection from RPGs, and their open-topped design made gunners very vulnerable during contacts, while trackers were not protected at all. Another distinguishing feature was the bounty system — the unit was compensated for every killed and captured terrorist, as well as their weapons and equipment, leading to cutthroat competition between battlegroups.
Koevoet also engaged in an improvised hearts-and-minds campaign by treating local natives with great cordiality and protecting them from SWAPO raids; this sharply contrasted with their habit of decorating bumpers and wheels of their Casspirs with corpses as a warning to SWAPO sympathizers.
Most of the fighting, however, was still done by whites, as many Ovambos refused to or were simply afraid to participate in contacts. Fear Incarnate Resourcefulness and sheer brutality of the new unit paid off: The full list of Koevoet operations is far too long to provide here especially considering that most started as routine patrols , but it is crowned by their defense of Tsumeb, when over SWAPO on their way to a small mining town were intercepted, dispersed and annihilated by several battlegroups before the Army even started to react.
The few captives later confessed to being ordered to burn Tsumeb to the ground. Armed by Soviets, trained by Cubans and brainwashed into extreme bloodthirst, they were a formidable foe even for SADF, one of the most capable armies in the world.
And yet, Koevoet did not even bother with posting sentries during their overnight camps in the bush — their reputation did the job just as well. Not even 32 Battalion instilled such dread — the idea of an enemy that chases you until you drop dead was far more terrifying than any ambush, and mercy was not guaranteed even in case of surrender. After South Africa told the UN to scram and allowed its troops to cross into Angola, syringes with benzedrine became standard issue for terrorists, whose survival now hinged on beating Koevoet to their bases deep within Angola rather than just the border.
The facts speak for themselves: The Final Look Koevoet veterans gather to pay respects to their fallen comrades-in-arms. For an outsider, Koevoet were barbarians — grubby, bellicose and completely ruthless. Apartheid South Africa was the favorite boogieman of both communist East and subverted West; once existence of Koevoet was revealed, it also became a target. The very people who bled to ensure that population of South West Africa slept tight at night were described as depraved butchers by politicians and journalists who never stepped foot outside their sterile offices.
Koevoet was disbanded in , its veterans either finding new occupations or becoming scattered across the world as private security contractors.
Contemporary governments of Namibia and South Africa prefer to ignore them altogether — given the African tradition of exterminating all opposition, it could be worse. The outcome of the Border War itself remains unclear: Modern Namibia owes its peace and stability to Koevoet, SADF and sacrifices they made back in the day, no matter how hard its government tries to deny it.