Today, 4 January, 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.


04 Jan 1976: Four members of the SADF were killed during Ops Savannah when an Aérospatiale SA 330C Puma Helicopter, Serial No. 122 from 19 Squadron that was flying Staff Officers between Mussende & Carriango in Central Angola, was mistaken for a hostile enemy helicopter and shot down by friendly 20mm anti-aircraft gun fire. The Anti-Aircraft Gun was protecting Battle Group Orange and had not been informed of the flight and when the helicopter approached the Anti-Aircraft Gun position directly from their 12 o'clock, the helicopter was misidentified as “hostile” and as there was no "gun's safe" or "gun's tight" order issued, the 20mm anti-aircraft gun immediately opened fire and raked the entire length of the helicopter, scoring 21 hits, causing it to crash in flames. The Aircraft Commander was not killed in the initial crash but rescuers were unable to free him from the wreckage before the helicopter burnt out. A badly burnt and wounded passenger, Commandant Martin Verster, who was thrown clear of the helicopter on impact, was the only survivor and he was immediately evacuated out of the area. The casualties in this unfortunate incident were:


  • 05547609PE Captain Ferdinand Immelman (Pilot and Aircraft Commander). He was 30.
  • 65654006PE Captain Constant Daniel de Wit (Co-Pilot). He was 26.
  • 65749400PE Sergeant George William Kellet (Flight Engineer). He was 26.


  • 01169895PE Brigadier Johan Diederik Potgieter SM was the Officer Commanding of 2 Military Area. He was on a scheduled visit to Battle Group Orange that was located near Mussende in Central Angola. He was 40.

04 Jan 1976: 73503294BA Rifleman Pieter Willem Marais Snyman from 5 SAI, part of Battle Group Orange, Died of wounds received when an enemy hand grenade exploded in his position near Dondo in Central Angola during an attack by MPLA and Cuban Forces. He was evacuated by helicopter with other wounded, to Silva Porta, but succumbed to his wounds en-route. He was 18.

04 Jan 1978: Two members from 1 and 5 Reconnaissance Regiment were Killed in Action during counter-insurgency operations in Mocambique as part of Operation Melon (SADF Name (Operation Acrobat). They were attached to "D" Squadron Rhodesian Special Air Service when their patrol walked into 30-man strong Frelimo ambush in the Gaza Province of Mozambique. The casualties were:

  • 71348213PE Lance Corporal Cecil Ian Mennicke from 1 Reconnaissance Regiment. He was 24.
  • 73508434PR Lance Corporal Christiaan Louis De Wilzem from 5 Reconnaissance Regiment. He was 20.

04 Jan 1984: Six Members from 4 SAI were Killed in action when their Ratel 20, Callsign 13B was knocked out near Cuvelai by a 100mm High Explosive Soviet T-55 tank projectile during Ops Askari. The 100mm projectile penetrated the right hand door of the Ratel and exploded inside the vehicle, causing all the Ratel ammunition to explode simultaneously. The vehicle caught fire and incinerated those who were unable to escape. The casualties were:

  • 80264575BG Lance Corporal Wouter Theron Steenkamp. He was 19
  • 80238660BG Rifleman George Alexander Lennox. He was 19.
  • 81251506BG Rifleman Brian Geen. He was 18.
  • 82585233BG Rifleman Hendrik Andre Heyns. He was 22.
  • 80211634BG Rifleman Daniel Abraham Louw. He was 19.
  • 81285504BG Rifleman Johannes Lodewicus Pretorius. He was 18.

04 Jan 1981: 69530152PE Corporal Gerald Christian Gildenhuys from the Technical Service Corps, attached to the Western Province Command Workshops, was found gassed in his private motor vehicle in Bellville. No foul play was suspected. He was 27.

04 Jan 1984: Two Members from 4 SAI, Ratel 12A (Platoon Two) were Killed in action during fierce close-quarter fighting while clearing enemy trenches near Cuvelai during Ops Askari. The members had debussed from Ratel 12A and moved forward to the trenches when a Soviet RPG-7 Anti-Tank Rocket was fired at them. The rocket hit a tree where they were standing and exploded. They were both killed instantly by rocket shrapnel. This was the same action where Ratel 13B was knocked out by a 100mm High Explosive Soviet T-55 tank projectile. The casualties were:

  • 79551099BG Rifleman Pieter Daniel Pretorius. He was 21.
  • 80490592BG Rifleman Leon Frederick Pearson. He was 19.

04 Jan 1989: Airman Johan Nel from the Test Flight Development Centre was killed in a private motor vehicle accident. He was 18.


    1977 – NSPO Erwin Bester LOMBARD, Uniform, BSAP, died in a vehicle accident, aged 19 years.

    1977 – Rfn Robin Shield WILSON, 8th Bn, RR, was killed in a shooting accident in the 1 (Indep) Coy Barracks in Wankie, Op Tangent. Robin had been handed an uncleared rifle to clean, and in the process the weapon discharged, resulting in his death.

    1978 – Pte Mohamed ALIBABA and Pte Enold BAIN, both of 1st Bn, RDR, were murdered by CTs in the Op Grapple (Midlands) area.

    1978 – FR George CHIPANGO, PR, BSAP, was killed on active service.

    1978 – D/Cst Collen NDLOVU, SB, BSAP, was killed in a CT action in the Beitbridge area, Op Tangent.

    1978 – Pte Chawatama SIMBURASHE, Reg, Army, died on active service.

    1978 – Act Sgt John Frederick Smuts, Army, died of wounds received from a landmine blast.

    1979 – Pte Baron GUMBO, B Coy, 4th Bn, RR, was killed in a contact, aged 20. He was a regular.

    † Their names and sacrifices have not been forgotten †


    • January 04, 2019
    • Piet Fourie
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    • May 21, 2018
    • Ian Engelbrecht

    Brian Geen, “Bubbles”, good friend, missed everyday. One day mate we all meet on the other side…Brian was a Milner High, Boarding School, Klerksdorp pupil. He was from Johannesburg, older brother Alan. Anyone know where brother Alan is? Please pass my contact details onto him.
    Thanks, Ian Engelbrecht 44 Para Brigade, Ops Company – 1987-1988. Ops Hooper…SANDF, Ondangwa / Oshakati / Rundu / Mapatcha / Mavinga / Quito, and everywhere South of the Bengeula Railway Line…

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