At 1 a.m. on Thursday, 9 December 1982, Lesotho was held captive by the moon. It was a beautiful clear moonlit night as only Lesotho produces.
Since industry is non-existent in the mountain kingdom, no smoke, no industrial filth scars the clarity of its skies. It is a precious and beautiful memory for those who have experiÂenced it. Motorcar lights pale in its splendour. It holds flower gardens in thrall. Many a film director who spends millions to recreate a moonlit beauty will find it in Lesotho for a song.
Ironically, it was the moonlight that assisted the South African Defence Force in their killing spree on this night. They came in helicopters, guided by searchlights, frightening off the usual night thieves and robbers from their nocturnal exploits. Who was impinging on their space they wondered, as they ran for cover from the explosions.
As to why the murder and mayhem, let us look to the SADF. General Constand Viljoen, Chief of the South African Defence Force in a full statement published in the then The Rand Daily Mail on Friday, 10 December 1982 and repeated on the BBC, VOA, distributed at the United Nations, and other internaÂtional agencies, stated:
"Elements of the Defence Force launched a S UCCESSFUL attack on 12 ANC targets in Maseru, Lesotho, this morning. A total of about 30 terrorists were killed in the attack and a quantity of arms, explosives and documents were seized.
Although the strike force had strict instructions to avoid women, children and Lesotho citizens not involved with the ANC, 5 women and 2 children died in the cross-fire. Four members of the strike force were wounded in the firefights.
It is regretted that the innocent also had to suffer because terrorists to discourage action against them housed them.
These targets served as planning and control headquarters for ANC action against SA, Transkei and Ciskei and were used as a springboard for terrorist action against the RSA and those neighbourÂing states.
The headquarters were deliberately located in civilian houses spread throughout the residential suburbs of Maseru to, complicate action against them.
It is emphasized that this attack was aimed at ANC terrorist and everything possible was done to prevent contact with the Lesotho forces and innocent civilians.
According to information received recently the ANC was planning to carry out deeds of terror in SA, Transkei and Ciskei during the festive season.
A number of well-trained terrorists were moved from southern African states to Lesotho during the past months to these plans.
The SA government repeatedly warned the government neighbouring countries not to allow terrorists to use their ten and facilities as springboards against SA.
In addition, the SADF is also aware that the ANC regularly receives advice on the nature and extent of its activities from the PLO. The danger therefore exists that the ANC's terror activities Lesotho could increasingly follow the pattern of brutal violence disregard for human life.
It is known that ANC terrorists in Lesotho were influenced by the PLO to eliminate among others black leaders. Small elements from ANC headquarters in Lesotho were to have carried out this instruction. The SADF's sole aim was to prevent deeds such as bloodshed of the innocent, bombings, sabotage and other acts of terror.
The strike force has already returned to base and for UNDER- STANDABLE reasons details of how the operation was earn cannot be revealed."
It would appear that this statement was prepared in advance of the raid!
Certainly the news was heard at 6 am and on the BBC as well before all the South African troops had returned home. Some troops were stranded in Lesotho till just before lunch.
If the General is to be believed, why were the aforementioned four men well trained terrorists " so easily located eliminated?
Even the most elementary of warnings, barking dogs to announce strangers, did not exist? No one was on guard duty but all engaged in entertaining two girlfriends. Why did Jo not grab his weapon and do what he was trained to do? Where is this well trained guerilla (terrorist), the General spoken? Why did he jump out of the window and watch the carnage from a safe distance? Why did he not run for help to other trained MK cadres? Why did he not warn anyone? Why is there such a lack of military acumen? If this was the calibre of M.K then surely the SADF was misinformed? Or were these 'trained MK', recently arrived refugees?