SADF mounts raids on ANC targets in neighbouring states

People killed during a raid by SADF. Source:

Monday, 19 May 1986

Troops of the South African Defence Force (SADF) carry out raids on alleged ANC targets in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Several people are left dead or injured. The targets include the ANC's operational headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia and bases in Ashdown Park, Harare and Gaborone, Botswana. Such raids were not new, the first one having taken place in 1981, on an alleged ANC base in Matola. Other military raids include actions against ANC bases in Mozambique (1981), Lesotho (1982 & 1986) and Swaziland (1986).

Following the banning of the ANC and other anti-apartheid organisations in 1960 and increasing terror from the Apartheid security forces, these movements went into exile, and the ANC set up headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia. In the 1960s, the ANC extended resistance activities to armed struggle and thus set up an underground armed wing uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK). MK undertook various acts of sabotage against strategic state structures. Although it did not target civilians, a bomb explosion outside the Air Force headquarters in Church Street, Pretoria on May 20 1983 resulted in injury of civilians. The government retaliated with an attack on an alleged ANC base in Maputo, Mozambique. As the conflict escalated, President P. W. Botha declared a state of emergency in mid-1985. The next year, he sanctioned the raids on the neighbouring countries to crush the resistance leadership and destroy the ANC in exile.

•   Joyce, P. (2000). Suid-Afrika in die 20ste eeu, Kaapstad: Struik.

Last updated : 19-May-2016

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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