On controversies, battles, raids and elusive truth: opposing perspectives on Cassinga, 1978

  • Ian Liebenberg Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Keywords: Cassinga, Border War, Angola, SWAPO, South African Defence Force (SADF), Cassinga massacre, Airborne operations, African conflicts, (National) liberation struggles, Apartheid destabilisation in southern Africa, People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), Kassinga, Grensoorlog, Konflik (in Angola), Suid-Afrikaanse Weermag (SAW), Kassinga menseslagting, Lugoperasies, Afrika konflikte, Nasionale bevrydingstryde, Apartheid destabilisasie

Abstract

The South African attack in 1978 on Cassinga, an alleged South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) base during the ‘Border War’, remains highly controversial. For some, Operation Reindeer, as it was called, was an undisputed military highlight, a most successful airborne operation and a victory over the SWAPO and its military arm, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN). For others, it was an undisputed massacre of civilian refugees in an Angolan town far north of the Namibia/Angola border. The drifting dust and smoke of past battles interfere seriously with seeing a clearer picture. In this review article, works from different (even serious contradictory) perspectives by three authors are discussed in an attempt to get more clarity on this much-disputed event and its outcomes.

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Published
2019-08-19
Section
Book reviews