Today, 23 December, we salute and honour 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.


23 Dec 1971: 70249701 Private Hendrik Roos from the Air Force Gymnasium was killed in a private motorcycle accident at Honeydew in Johannesburg. He was 17.

23 Dec 1974: Four members of the South African Police serving in Rhodesia were Killed in Action in the Rushinga area when their vehicle was stopped by a ZANLA insurgent under the pretext of surrendering. When the Police members exited the vehicle to accept the “surrender”, the remaining insurgents hiding in the bush, opened fire, killing them instantly. The casualties in this incident were:

  • W23924W Warrant Officer Jan Paulos Dippenaar. He was 46.
  • W57512N Constable William Alexander Du Plessis. He was 22.
  • W61774B Constable Louis Wessel Gerhardus Franken. He was 18.
  • W61812P Constable Lourens Daniel Erasmus. He was 18.

23 Dec 1975: Two members from 14 Field Regiment attached to Battle Group Orange during Ops Savannah were Killed in Action when their artillery gun position received a direct hit from a salvo of 122mm Soviet BM-21 Katyusha rockets. The casualties were:

  • 73292054BA Gunner Glen Martin Felix Muller. He was 18.
  • 72481856BA Gunner Matthys Jacobus Theunissen. He was 18.

23 Dec 1975: 69475861PE Sergeant (Flight Engineer) Pieter van Rensburg from 17 Squadron SAAF was killed while serving in Rhodesia when his Alouette III Helicopter, Serial 37 crashed after flying into High Tension overhead Power Lines on the Shinda Orchards Farm between Cashel and Umtali while ferrying Senior Rhodesian Staff Officers on a Staff Visit to troops in the field at Christmas during Operation Thrasher. He was 22. The Pilot, Lieutenant J.J. van Rensburg escaped with injuries. The four Rhodesian Officers killed in the crash were:

  • Major General John R. Shaw
  • Colonel David G. Parker
  • Captain I.A.B. Robertson
  • Captain M.J. Lamb.

23 Dec 1976: 69482172BT Lieutenant Christiaan Johan Swart from 32 Battalion was Killed in Action after breaking his neck when his Unimog overturned after detonating a landmine just outside Elundu. He was 23.

23 Dec 1980: Rifleman Ivan Shipago from 101 Battalion SWATF was Killed in Action during a contact with SWAPO/PLAN insurgents near the Cut-line. He was 25.

23 Dec 1983: 78255403BT Rifleman Simon Petrus Jurgens Du Toit from the Kimberley Regiment was killed in a private motor vehicle Accident, at Warrenton. He was 21.

23 Dec 1985: Four civilians were killed and sixty-one others including very young children were injured when a Soviet SPM Limpet Mine exploded outside the Sanlam Shopping Centre at Amanzimtoti while the Centre was crowded with holiday makers doing last minute Christmas shopping. The Limpet mine had been placed inside a refuse bin by MK operatives. One of these uMkhonto We Sizwe (MK) operatives, Sibusiso Andrew Zondo (19) was later arrested in February 1986 and the other two, Phumezo Nxiweni (20) and Sipho Stanley Bhila (31) were shot dead during a shoot-out with Security Police. Zondo admitted to his role in the bombing at his trial and was sentenced to death. He was executed at Pretoria Central Prison on 09 September 1986. The casualties in this terror incident were:

  • Mrs Irma Bencini. She was 48.
  • Mrs Anna Sherer. She was 43
  • Master Johan Smit. He was 8.
  • Master Willem Arie van Wyk. He was 2.

23 Dec 1986: 84808807SCD Rifleman Peter James from 202 Battalion SWATF was Killed in Action during a contact with SWAPO/PLAN Insurgents. He was 19.

23 Dec 1989: 85597110BT Lance Corporal Samuel Athol Ellis from Regiment Bloemspruit was accidentally killed after being struck by a bullet during a shooting incident at Nkongo Base. He was 20.


1968 – Tpr Norman Dennis JOHNSON, 1st Bn, RLI, died in Umtali Hospital of head injuries, aged 20.

1970 – Cst Ignatius TSHUMA, Uniform, BSAP, died of injuries when he was stabbed by a gang of five Africans in Makokoba Township, Bulawayo. He was off duty at the time.

1974 – Cst Mutasa MANDAZA, SU, BSAP, missing in action. During the Rhodesian cease-fire, a ZANLA commander, Herbert Shungu, and 8 CTs stopped two South African Police vehicles which were carrying 6 members of the SAP and a BSAP constable. They were all relieved of the firearms, bundled into one of the trucks and driven down to the bridge over the Mazoe River in Rushinga district (Op Hurricane). They were taken onto the bridge and told to remove their shirts and hats, but sensing real danger, the policemen tried to escape, some by jumping into the river. One of the CTs opened up with his RPD. Jan DIPPENAAR, William DU PLESSIS, Lourens ERASMUS and Louis FRANKEN of the SAP were all killed. Cst Grobbelaar, who was shot and wounded in the river, and Cst Eloff both survived. The body of Cst Mutasa Mandaza of the BSAP was never found and it is presumed he had drowned.

1975 – Capt John Bourchier LAMB (27), HQ, 3 Bde; Maj-Gen John SHAW (48) DCD, HQ 3 Bde; Col David ‘The King’ PARKER (38), HQ, 3 Bde; Capt Ian ROBERTSON (29) 5 (Indep) Coy, RR; and Flt Sgt Pieter VAN RENSBURG (22), No. 17 Squadron, SAAF, were all killed in an air accident whilst visiting troops in the field at Christmas, travelling in an Alouette 111 which hit an overhead steel cable. The accident occurred on Shinda Orchards Farm, between Cashel and Umtali, Op Thrasher, 3 km from the Mozambique border. The steel cable was used to ferry fruit, seed-potatoes and silage to the packing shed on a nearby hill. The pilot, Air Sub-Lt Johannes van Rensburg was seriously injured.

1976 – D/Cst Mafiyo Gibson ALI, SB, BSAP, died of a gunshot wound in an ambush in the Belingwe TTL, Op Repulse. Died aged 34 (b. 21 September 1942 in Bulawayo). He was on a routine patrol with a PATU stick when he was shot.

1977 – Cpl Denzil MIDDLEMAS, Prtn Coy, RDR, died in a vehicle accident.

1978 – DSA Macala M. SIBANDA, Kp Prtn, Intaf, died on active service.

1978 – Spr Thomas McLeod SMALL, 2 Sqn, RhE, was killed by an accidental explosion.

1979 – DSA Jivas KAGONA, Kp Prtn, Intaf, was killed in a contact.

1979 – Cst Peter MACHINGAUTA, F Tp, SU, BSAP, was killed in a railway accident near Salisbury. He was 25 years old.

1979 – DSA Barnard Jongilanga MANDIDNA, Kp Prtn, Intaf, was killed in a contact.

1979 – Pte Michael MLALAZI, 1st Bn, RR, died in a vehicle accident.

1979 – DSA Silas PREZENT, Kp Prtn, Intaf, was killed in a contact.

† Their names and sacrifices have not been forgotten †


  • December 23, 2017
  • Piet Fourie
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