Today In Fact, 30 October

They had been in the bush fighting a war for years. The Front national for the Liberation of Angola or FNLA had not had a good time of it, were exhausted and hungry. General Jannie Geldenhius came across them one day in the Bush and offered them a deal. Fight with the South African Government against the Communists.

The 600 or so men of the FNLA took the deal and most of them were drafted into the newly formed Koevoet unit of the Police. They were brutal, efficient and effective. Perhaps the best counter-insurgency force ever to be assembled.

On this day however, in 1989, in the run-up to the Namibian independence elections overseen by the United Nations, they were assembled on a parade ground and disbanded.

The ex-Koevoet members took their substantial pensions and moved to Warmbaths, a small town north of Pretoria. They stayed in a local hotel for some years, collectively bought a farm and settled-in. They were eventually moved as community to Fingerkraal, a desolated space to the West of Bela Bela. Rejected by the local black community and largely forgotten by their ex-police comrades, the families of the disbanded Koevoet unit still live in isolation and poverty at Fingerkraal.

Foreigners in an adopted land, their deeds and their interests ignored or scorned.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (