chapter  3
24 Pages


After SWAPO's president Sam Nujoma had announced on 18 July 1966 that SWAPO would launch the armed struggle, 1 the first important engagement between SWAPO guerrillas and the South African police took place in Ovamboland on 26 August 19662 after South African security forces had attacked SWAPO's base at Omgulumbashe. The scene was set for the rapid escal­ ation of the dynamics of resistance and repression inside Nami­ bia. South African forces killed two SWAPO fighters and cap­ tured twenty-seven during the engagement on 26 August and captured the camp which had been SWAPO's first base inside Namibia and which had been equipped and fortified for eleven months. 3 By the end of August, according to ya-Otto of SWAPO, 'the entire north was flooded with South African troops in helicopters and armoured cars, combing the bush for guerillas, terrorizing and arresting hundreds of villagers' . 4 On 27 September, SWAPO retaliated with a surprise attack on government buildings at Oshikango on the Namibian-Angolan border. 5 SWAPO fighters raided the property of pro-South Afri­ can chiefs in Ovamboland in November and December 1966 and attacks spread to the Grootfontein region. 6 But by December 1966, South African police had clamped down on SWAPO by arresting its leaders who were still inside Namibia, among them the organization's acting president Nathaniel Mahuilili, its acting secretary-general John ya-Otto, the regional secretary for Ovamboland Andimba Toivo ya Toivo and the secretary for external relations Jason Mutumbulua. 7 Arrested under the Suppression of Communism Act which was applied for the first time to Namibia, 37 Namibians were charged under the Terrorism Act (No.83 of 1967), which had been promul­

gated in July 1967. The Act was made retroactive to June 1962 and covered both South Africa and Namibia. 8

But in addition to both the local dynamics of the conflict and its international ramifications highlighted by the UN General Assembly's decision in October 1966 to revoke South Africa's mandate over Namibia (GA resolution 2145 (XXI), 27.10.1966), a web of regional interactions increasingly permeated the poli­ tics of liberation and repression. On one hand, political align­ ments of SWAPO with other southern African liberation move­ ments within the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization (AAPSO) overshadowed but did not exclude more discrete relationships with movements outside AAPSO's orbit, with UNITA of Angola in particular. On the other hand, the spread­ ing of MPLA's armed struggle to eastern Angola, with the southeast of the country becoming a transit route for SWAPO guerillas from Zambia to northern Namibia, led to increased cooperation between South Africa and Portugal. Military and police collaboration which had existed since the early sixties, was intensified and increasingly complemented with economic cooperation. While South African private investment in the Angolan economy remained relatively low, South African capi­ tal significantly contributed to joint infrastructure projects, notably the Cunene hydroelectric scheme on the Namibian Angolan border.