Episode 38 – 32 Battalion ends Ops Reindeer then SWAPO attacks Katima Mulilo in the Caprivi

This is episode 38 and its time to scrutinise the fall-out from Operation Reindeer, particularly the attack on Cassinga – during 1978.
As you heard last episode, the SADF regarded the invasion of Angola as a success – however as we know, war is politics by other means and in this – the South African state had failed. It would also lead to SWAPO’s Operation Revenge which would kill far more SADF troops than the airborne assault at Cassinga.
The strategic plan of Operation Reindeer was to weaken SWAPO at the point the united Nations had demanded elections. They idea was to show how militarily weak SWAPO was – but this strategy backfired spectacularly.
Instead, it strengthened SWAPOs position internationally. Attacking a town without any warning was always going to cause civilian casualties and therefore, bad PR. It was seen as not only unethical, it was criminal.
SWAPO meanwhile was planning revenge already and their response would kill more than three times more South Africans than Operation Reindeer. This took place at Katima Mulilo, the unofficial capital of the Eastern Caprivi, which had been a quiet zone for years as we’ve heard.
What would happen next took everyone by surprise – except for SWAPO and those in the know inside Zambia.