The Bush War

Daily Maverick had a story about the bush war that we were involved in the 1980’s. A Facebook group “BORDER WAR 1966-1989” don’t like the article. I remember the incident about the mortar. That happened about 6 months after my time. I think this a fairly good description of army live although I would not say we were turned into monsters. We were not angels but had a job to do. We just tried to get the two years over as painlessly as possible. We did not volunteer. You could refuse and go to prison for two? years, but very few did, we were brought up this way and you did not think about it.
I saw some stuff that was not suppose to happen. That can not be “spin doctored” away, that is true, but there are always three sides to a story. There is my side, your side and the truth is somewhere in the middle. I think this Batista guy has got a story, the “BORDER WAR 1966-1989” group’s got a story but I think the truth, judging by some of the comments, is closer to Batista’s story.

I’m utterly grateful my sons dont have to do military service…

A touching story and it freaked me out all over again that my generation men was forced to do this. I have seen friends and family go off to “fight the war”, and it was part of the scenery in those days. Now, with a couple years of life experience behind me, I can recall how they “grew up” during those two years, which everybody proclaimed to be a good thing. I dont believe that anymore and yes, the army did put “hair on your chest” and you certainly did mature, but at what cost?

My (still) best friend was also dishonourably discharged from the army, the pressure got too much for him around 9 months in and he started taking pot-shots with his rifle at anything that was rank. They hauled him out there and he spent a good three months at 1-militer before they deemed him safe enough to release back into society. The man still has the emotional scars from whatever tilted him over the edge, he doesnt speak of it, never has as far as I know. Never got married and lives in a two bedroomed flat with his three cats.

No, there is no glory to war, only bloodshed and heartache and many, many, destroyed lives…

Six, actually. Or if you were a Jehovah Witness, you could register as conscientious objector, in which case you would be sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, which would then be commuted to six years’ community service. It wasn’t much of a choice, so most of us poor suckers, brought up to obey authority, and reluctant to be branded traitors or cowards, did our national “service.” Had I known at age eighteen what I knew two years later, I may well have chosen exile.

Six, unless you were a concientious objector, in which case you did 2 years in DB in blue overalls.

This is really interesting. I always thought that if I had done two years of army service perhaps it would have made more of a man out of me. Thing is if I could hide my homosexuality well enough.

My dad always had good stories to tell me about it. I cannot operate a gun and I feel it is emasculating. Perhaps I should just take some lessons.

Don’t. Mrs Kent has just completed her competency certificate for a 9mm sidearm, and scored 97% or something similarly banal. I suspect that if you can fry an egg, you can shoot a gun.

I received my invitation to join the army in the late eighties. But I went to study first, and by the time I was done (1994), it was pretty much optional. While never obsessive about it, I too regretted not going through the ropes of the military for a good few years. I felt that I owed my country something, and that I was somehow getting a free ride that I don’t really deserve. Not to mention all the cool testosterone-laden activities that I never engaged in like riding on Elands and shooting missiles into airplanes. Essentially, there was this rite of passage that I’ve somehow missed out on. But then, as I grew older, it dawned on me that I would not be who I am today if I were forced to go through the (psychological?) manipulations that used to form part of the army. I was just way to impressionable at that age.

I will however always take my hat off to guys like St0nes and Tweefo, who went through all this and STILL came out ubersane on the other side.


Thats bullshit Superman and you know it. I utterly HATE it when people go about criticizing a young boy/man because they’re not “man” enough for their tastes. I’d rather have a real so-called softie in my life than the uber masculine agressive shits that point their flawed fingers at others. Your’e absolutely perfect as you are.

Yes this is what you imagine when you think of the army but it really wakes you up when you read the article in the daily maverick.

I am not good with people saying nice things. Thank you Faerie. I do agree with what you say.

You could get a K5 for being homosexual iirc. (G1K1 they take you, you are fit physically and mentally to kill other human beings) ~ I’ll leave it to you which one the K signifies… and yes it is infuriating.

I was so scared of getting anything other than a G1K1, I faked my eye test - memorised the chart standing in the line I did. (had to start wearing glases at a young age because one eye is weak)

Best time of my life I never ever want to do over.

I wanted to get anything other than G1K1. I was told that if you drank a litre of fanta orange and a tin of condensed milk before your medical it would make your blood sugar so high that they would boot you out as a diabetic. So I drank the fanta & condensed milk, but by the time I got to front of the queue for the medics circa 5 hours later it had worked its way out of my system. G1K1, dammit.

By the way, I think they sent all the gays to Bethlehem.

Oh, and I forgot to mention: another regret not having been in the army, is finding myself utterly lost when the old boys invariably start talking in that alphanumerical code of theirs. :stuck_out_tongue:


So Alexander the Great would have been unfit to serve in the old SADF… :slight_smile:

I remember that they gave us forms to fill in with lots of questions, one of which asked openly whether you are homosexual. I doubt whether many gay guys answered in the affirmative. My impression is that the ones who did were all transferred to the catering corps. At least in the base where I ended up, more or less every last one of the conscript cooks were gay.

It was an extremely conflicting situation for me ~ I really really really didn’t want to be in Upington any more after just two or three weeks, hell after about a day really, (and basics was hanging like a nightmare on the horizon - we were being fucked up left right and center all the while being told that we haven’t had our medicals yet and that they were taking it easy on us…) but I also couldn’t consider being anything other than in perfect health or be seen as a failure by my peers, there and back home.

Rigil it is just jargon mate, every industry have it :smiley:

I was very lucky in that the SANDF was fully bilingual, the first 50 years were English and I was in the Afrikaans 50 years. I felt badly for the Souties though… If I think back now I was in the 75th Bestaans Jaar and we had celebrations and everything - basically we used our big machines and guns to impress the public… then again, it actually was impressive to behold a full company of ratels and soldiers firing off everything they had.

The day In reported for duty, there was this little major strutting up and down, shouting orders, in both official languages.

“As jou van met 'n D begin, dan gaan staan jy dáár! If your fan begins wiff a D, you stand dere!” He certainly got some puzzled looks… :slight_smile:

An oxymoron.


I can absolutely picture that.