Today, 12 September, we salute and honor the following men & woman who sacrificed their lives whilst standing in the defence of what they held dear at the time and against evil and tyranny. 


12 Sep 1968: 5167812PE Warrant Officer Class I Pieter Francois Pienaar for the South African Corps of Signals was killed when his military vehicle overturned 11 miles from Colesburg on the Naauwpoort Road. It is suspected that he fell asleep behind the wheel. He was 37.

12 Sep 1969: 67316257BT Rifleman Cornelius Gregorius Labuschagne from 4 SAI was accidentally killed after he suffocated as a result of gas at the Klerksdorp Provincial Hospital. He was 18.

12 Sep 1971: 68459957BG Rifleman Trevor Cowie from 6 SAI was killed in a private vehicle accident while returning to the unit after a weekend pass. The accident occurred at Howsens Poort, South of Grahamstown. He was 18.

12 Sep 1978: 71494751PE Candidate Officer Lancelot Emberger from Central Flying School, Dunnottar was killed when his AT-6 Harvard, Serial No. 7633 failed to recover from a spin and crashed near Delmas. He was 22.

12 Sep 1979: 76915420SP Rifleman Johannes Conga HC from "C" Company, 31 Battalion (201 Battalion) was Killed in Action during a contact with enemy forces in Zambia. During this action, he deliberately drew enemy fire upon himself in order to save the life of his Officer, Lieutenant Coetzee. Rifleman Conga was posthumously awarded the Honoris Crux Decoration for his unselfish act of self-sacrifice. He was 25.

12 Sep 1980: 76927698SP Corporal Jose Francisco from 32 Battalion was critically wounded by cannon fire from an Alouette Gunship during a contact with a numerically superior enemy force in Southern Angola. He was evacuated to Grootfontein Hospital where he unfortunately succumbed to his wounds later in the day. He was 29.

12 Sep 1980: 72440332PM Lieutenant Vincent Peter Lautenslager from 8 Squadron was Reported Missing on 12 September 1980 when his Atlas MB326K Impala Mk II, Serial No. 1074 flew into the ground near Xangongo while providing close air support to Army Ground Forces in Southern Angola. The subsequent Board of Enquiry found no evidence of hostile enemy action. He has no known grave. He was 23.

12 Sep 1982: 75890780PE Sergeant William Paul Courtnay from 4 Reconnaissance Regiment died as a result of injuries sustained in a private motorcycle accident in Central Durban. He was 24.

12 Sep 1982: 76365329PE Corporal Christiaan Benjamin Ehlers from the Air Force Gymnasium was killed in a private motorcycle accident. He was 22.

12 Sep 1983: 82200346BG Rifleman Michael Anthony Costello from 7 SAI was accidentally killed during a fire and movement exercise in conjunction with a South African Cape Corps unit opposite Hurricane Base in the 51 Battalion SWATF area if interest. A week prior to this accident, a group of SWAPO/PLAN insurgents had been intercepted while trying to cross the Cunene River approximately 10km from the Ruacana Falls. An operation was planned to disrupt this infiltration route and a five-member Team from 7 SAI took part in a joint exercise with the South African Cape Corps across the road from Hurricane Base. At the end of the exercise, a Major gave the instruction to “Cease Fire” but the soldier manning the Patrol Mortar had already launched a 60mm High Explosive mortar bomb and on hearing the instruction, pulled back on the mortar pipe. Unfortunately, his action caused the mortar bomb to fall short and it landed and exploded in the middle of the Stick of the 7 SAI and South African Cape Corps Platoon with Michael taking the full force of the Blast, killing him instantly. The remaining members of the platoon were injured by shrapnel. He was 20.

12 Sep 1983: 83066175CK Rifleman Johannes August van der Westhuizen from the South African Cape Corps was killed after being struck by a bullet from an accidental discharge of a fellow soldiers rifle while at Bagani. He was 19.

12 Sep 1984: 81113730BG Rifleman Pieter Taljaard from 1 Parachute Battalion was killed when his Buffel Troop Carrier overturned. He was 19.

12 Sep 1985: 70423157PE Major Johannes Andries van der Vyver from 32 Battalion was serving as the Logistics Officer stationed at Rundu. On the night of 12 September 1985, he flew to Mavinga in South Eastern Angola to co-ordinate the Battalion's supplies and other requirements. Normal procedure with these re-supply flights was for each landing aircraft to turn around at the end of the runway where their loads of personnel, rations and supplies would be swiftly unloaded and any returning personnel, equipment etc. would be loaded. This was all done with the aircraft engines running in order to precipitate a quick take off from the rudimentary airstrip at Mavinga to allow the next approaching SAAF aircraft to land in their turn. After completing his task, Major van der Vyver unfortunately arrived late for the last flight out of Mavinga and by the time he arrived, the rear ramp of the C160 Transall had already been closed but the crew side door was still open. Major van der Vyver headed for this door in order to board the aircraft but unfortunately, his path took him directly into the path of the aircraft's rotating port propeller which he completely failed to see in the dark. He was decapitated by aircraft propeller and died instantly. He was 31.

12 Sep 1985: 83508903BG Private Ricky Grant Whitaker from 5 Maintenance Unit died after being accidentally blasted in the face with a fire extinguisher at Ondangwa. He was 18.

12 Sep 1987: 87094348CK Rifleman Fanie de Bruin from the South African Cape Corps was killed when his Buffel vehicle overturned during a contact and subsequent hot pursuit operation against SWAPO/PLAN insurgents in Northern Owamboland. He was 21.

12 Sep 1987: 87953436CK Lance Corporal Stephen Lesley Roman from the South African Cape Corps was killed in a motor vehicle accident in Mamelodi, North of Pretoria. He was 21.

12 Sep 1990: 86367299PS Lieutenant Edward Diggle from 42 Squadron was killed when his Aermacchi AM-3C Bosbok, Serial No. 925 crashed at Potchefstroom. He was 20. The pilot, 83486357PS Lieutenant Sean James McGuiness was grievously burned and admitted to 1 Military Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries on 23 September 1990.


1970 – Tpr Carl Aaron SUTTON, C Sqn SAS, died in a vehicle accident on the Gatooma/Salisbury road. He was 19 years old.

1975 – Tech Norman Lawrence GRIFFITHS, Thornhill, RhAF, died in Andrew Fleming Hospital, Salisbury, from accidental spinal injuries. He was 21 years old.

1977 – WO2 Robert PHILLIPS, 1st Bn RLI, died on active service.

1979 – Pte Moegsien ARENDSE, 2nd Bn RDR, died on active service, aged 26.

† Their names and sacrifices have not been forgotten †  


  • September 12, 2017
  • Piet Fourie
Write a Comment

NOTE: Comments must be approved before they are published.

Liquid error: Could not find asset snippets/sweettooth-initializer.liquid Liquid error: Could not find asset snippets/sweettooth-tab-widget.liquid Liquid error: Could not find asset snippets/upsell-now.liquid