Jungle Fighter: Return to the Movement

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On November 6, 1986 at around 19h00, I left Enolyexaya village on my way to Angola, riding the bicycle which I got from Cde Nanyemba of Odiyamande village in Okatjali Constituency.

At night I passed between Ongwediva and Ondangwa through Oikango village and other villages along my route. As I passed through Okatope village in the Oukwanyama area at around midnight, I fell into an enemy ambush.
Fortunately, however, the enemy noticed my activities too late – only after I had noticed their presence. It appeared they were fast asleep when I entered their position and only heard my movements when I was already a distance past them.

First, I smell cigarette smoke, but was not sure whether the smell was coming from a nearby homestead or the enemy. However, as I proceeded, I came across a small tent hoisted above a Mopani bush. That was when I realised that I was actually in the middle of the enemy forces’ position, as they had positioned themselves along the route I was following. By the time they fired flares into the air, I was already out of their position moving east, carrying my bicycle on my shoulder.

I arrived at Odibo ye Engulu at about 05h30 when I left my bicycle at the entrance of one homestead before I proceeded towards the border on foot. After crossing the border into Angola, I went straight to a village north of Oyihole village where I had stashed my weapons, including an AK-47 and five bullet magazines.

Of course, before I arrived there, I had to employ some manoeuvres and guerrilla tactics by walking on dry grass and hard ground to ensure that the enemy would not trace my footprints. Once in the village, I hid in the bush to check the security situation in that area before I proceeded to the place where I had hidden my weapons.

I only managed to retrieve my weapons early in the morning, as I had arrived in Oyihole late at night, hence, did not want to go there in the dark. I spent that night with local villagers, whom I had met long before my arrest.

At first, the villagers were scared of me, as they thought I was part of the false guerrillas looking for PLAN fighters in that part of Angola, which at that time was partially occupied by colonial security forces. However, they only relaxed after I painstakingly explained my predicament. They then gave me food and water to bathe.

The villagers informed me that they had not seen PLAN fighters in the area for a month. According to the villagers, PLAN fighters had shifted northwards deep into the Cunene province, as the enemy had increased patrols in the area.

I decided to sleep in the bush that night, with nothing to cover me. Early in the morning, I went to retrieve my weapons from where I had hidden them. I found my weapons, especially the AK-47, functioning and ready to open fire. At that moment, for the first time, I felt liberated and my dignity restored. Later I proceeded with my journey northwards trying to reach areas where PLAN fighters were operating.

As I walked, I could hear sounds of enemy trucks coming from the eastern direction. The sounds once again reminded me that I was not yet safe in parts of Angola. I found myself walking through unfamiliar areas and my solitude compounded fears that I might move into an area where enemy forces were active, or simply fall into the hands of false guerrillas that were operational in the Cunene Province.

However, I drew solace from my gun, as I could defend myself whenever the need arose. After walking for two days without finding PLAN fighters in that part of Angola, I turned westwards towards Ondjiva. Villagers in the areas I passed through told me that PLAN fighters were hard to find.

However, they told me that members of the FAPLA, the then Angolan armed force, were seen patrolling areas about 40 kilometres to the west. They, therefore, advised me to move westwards and not towards the north, because they had heard sounds of enemy trucks in that direction two days before.

On the fourth day after I crossed the border I came across members of the Angolan security forces on patrol about 30 kilometres east of Ondjiva. A local villager had actually taken me to their position. After I explained my circumstances, the commander offered me food, mainly tinned food and biscuits, before he gave me 10 soldiers to escort me to the next camp, which was about 20 kilometres east of Ondjiva.

We arrived there late afternoon, so we had to spend the night there. Again, the following morning the commander of the camp gave me five soldiers and a military truck to take me to Ondjiva, where I found PLAN fighters at the SWAPO Representative Office.

After lengthy talks and detailed briefing about my situation, the comrades contacted the PLAN Provincial Headquarters and were told to keep me there until transport was available to take me to Lubango. I must say that the comrades I found at the Movement’s office treated me very well, taking into account that the security situation in the Cunene Province was very tense that time.

While waiting almost everything I needed, ranging from treatment of my wounds that were still not healed, food and clothing to bedding, was provided. I felt relieved and overcome with joy to be back in the Movement after more than six months of hell in the hands of the colonial forces.

During the previous six months, death shadowed me (though death threats never conquered my revolutionary spirit to the extent of surrender). I never thought that I would be able to escape from enemy hands. The comrades in Ondjiva were cautioned not to interview me in such a way that I would reveal everything that concerned the mission that had landed me in enemy hands.

The entire Ondjiva was on high alert that time, as the colonial security forces were crossing in to launch attacks on the town. For that reason, we spent most of the time sitting in defensive trenches ready to repulse enemy attacks anytime of the day.

Around November 23, 1986, I was taken to the PLAN Provincial Headquarters in Lubango, the capital city of the Huila Province of Angola, where I found the comrades of my clandestine unit waiting to receive me with humility and in a spirit of camaraderie.

It appeared they were already aware of the circumstances under which I was arrested and the atrocious torture I was subjected to at the hands of the colonial security agents. They also seemed to be aware of the way I had resisted divulging sensitive information about my clandestine mission inside Namibia and other PLAN fighters’ operations, though later on I had to undergo numerous security interviews to verify certain issues.

In general, then head of the of the clandestine unit, Cde Festus Shikongo Nexale, and other headquartered staff members namely, comrades Ben K. Likando, German Itana, Elias Angula( Katanga), Gotlieb Nghihepavali (Mokahonde), Kandjou E. (King), just to mention a few, had received me wholeheartedly.

I was very happy with the way they helped me get treatment for ailments I had developed as a result of excessive electrical shock and beatings, which upset my health system for the whole of 1987 and early 1988.Were it not for Cde Shikongo’s serious intervention, I would probably have ended up with permanent scars all over my body. I am indebted to what he and other comrades of my Unit did for me at the PLAN headquarters in Lubango.

It was during these interviews that I explained to the comrades the tactics the enemy security agents employed to extract information from captured PLAN fighters, the way the enemy forced captured PLAN fighters into submission, the enemy’s brainwashing techniques and other important information about enemy activities in detention camps.

The treatment I received from the comrades was actually rare for a person who had escaped from enemy hands. For instance, I was allowed to keep all the weapons I brought with me when I returned to the headquarters following my escape from enemy hands.

In my opinion, I was treated like a small returning hero. Since my arrival in the Provincial Headquarters in December 1986, I stayed both at a clandestine base and Witbooi section of the PLAN Headquarters until July 1988, when the Movement sent me on a scholarship to the former German Democratic Republic (GDR).

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