Ons is optimisties oor die vordering van die Skillie projek, alhoewel dit baie tydsaam en stadig gaan, bly ons geduldig en positief. Nadat die PVO goeie wense en toestemmimg ontvang het van beide Minister Pandor en die President van Angola, het verskeie departemente van die Angolese regering intussen vergader en is hulle in proses met die bespreking van sake soos die begroting en ander sake, onder andere hoe en wanneer die Skillie projek kan begin in Cassinga.
Die volgende departemente van Angola is betrokke,
- Ministry of National Defense and Veterans of the Homeland – Coordination;
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Governing Body of Diplomacy for the facilitation of mechanisms of international judicial cooperation – Sub-coordination;
- Ministry of Justice and Human Rights – Body with competence to register the death, seal the urn and with experience of CIVICOP;
- Ministry of the Interior – To confirm the identity of the citizen through the Criminal Laboratory;
- Ministry of Health – Department that promotes sanitary inspection;
- Ministry of Territorial Administration and State Reform – Department that authorizes the local territorial incursion;
- Ministry of Finance – For financial support inherent to the process, because the costs are not budgeted.
Ons het n baie goeie netwerk in Angola,danksy oom Koos Moorcroft en ander persone in stede en dorpe soos Luanda, Ongiva, Lubango en Menonhgue.
Ons het nou gevra vir die datum waneer ons kan begin.
Projek fondse: R 315 570.00
Dit is vir ons n voorreg om terugvoer te gee na ons onlangse toer in Angola.Ons was op die Angola Recce Ekspedisie 2023 onder leiding van oom Koos Moorcroft en Callie Roos..Chris Pohl se verslag van die toer is al op Facebook blaaie geplaas .
Ek haal aan uit Chris se verslag
Net voor Cuvango draai ons regs op die grondpad na Cassinga.Die pad is sleg verspoel op plekke en ons vorder stadig.Om 16h30 so 60 km voor Cassinga roep ons halt vir die dag.Ons is in die omgewing waar Ops Firewood plaasgevind het.Die volgende dag voorwaarts na Cassinga.Ons ry 3 ure om die laaste 60 km na Cassinga te voltooi.Die paaie na Cassinga is grondpad en in n baie slegte toestand .
Ons stop en Anthony Modena wat by Cassinga gespring het doen n aanbieding. Na die aanbieding beweeg Willoughby Brits , Dr ‘s Stefan Rawlins, Andre Roux , Stephan Van Zyl saam met Chris Pohl en Anthony Modena na die RV waar ons glo Skillie Human begrawe is .Ons stap etlike honderde meter deur die Veld en kom op die RV. Dr Andre Roux en Willoughby Brits maak n sakkie vol grond. Ons neem fotos , Willoughby Brits lewer n kort boodskap en Chris Pohl doen n gebed. Ons weet nou hoe die terein nou lyk en sal goeie beplanning nou kan doen.
Ek verwys na Dr Pandor (Minister of International relations and Cooperation) se skrywe aan ons
“I wish to express the South African Government’s support to your efforts in the knowledge that this is a difficult and sensitive matter. We commend the extensive work undertaken by the PVO to ensure that all necessary procedures are followed to ensure that Rifleman Humans remains can be returned to his family. I understand the importance of bringing closure to Mr Humans family and wish the PVO every success in its endeavour to repatriate the remains of the fallen soldier.
Ons wag nou vir die Angolese om ons te laat weet van die prosedure wat nou gevolg gaan word. Danksy oom Koos Moorcroft en ander het ons n baie goeie netwerk in Angola.Baie dankie aan Mike McWilliams ons projekleier vir al sy goeie en harde werk. Sien asb ook video van ons besoek aan Cassinga op ons Webwerf.
Sien Video hier
Skillie Report 30 May 2023
I received a long-awaited letter from Minister Naledi Pandor of DIRCO, addressed to me and the Angolan Government.
It is the last step in the Bring Skillie Home Project and the culmination of 6 years endeavour by many people both here in SA as well as Angola, Namibia and overseas.
Special mention goes to our own Parabat comrade Raymond Kramer whose friendships and connections both in Angola and SA have been invaluable in getting the help and permissions required. Also, our very good friend Blaz has from day one, been a huge help in welding this process into a melting pot of old enmities and new friends.
Thank you all for your unwavering support over the years and thanks to some for your wavering support, it spurred us to greater things.
The letter from DIRCO’s Minister Naledi Pandor has been sent to the Angolan Law Society and they acknowledged reciept. We await dates for our visit.
The way forward now has a number of options.
We go to Cassinga, excavate the grave and find remains.
If we find immediate proof that the remains are Skillie. I.e. dog tags, dental identification or remains wrapped in parachute cloth. We may then be enabled to bring the remains immediately.
The next possibility is we find remains that are not instantly identifiable as Skillie. We would then have to rely on a DNA verification. This would, because of timing requirements, would neccessitate leaving the remains in Angola pending positive identification.
This may need a second trip to return the remains.
Another possibility is that we find nothing.This May indicate interference by wild animals or muti seekers, flood environmental change or other unknown factors. In this case the grave can be marked with an already manufactured headstone. This site could later be visited by Skillies widow at a later date.
- Project Report: 8 March 2023
I was advised by the Angola Law Society, the body that is handling the Bring Skillie home project on our behalf in Angola, that the final requirement is a message from the SA Minister of Foreign Affairs to both the SA Ambassador to Angola as well as to the Angolan Government endorsing the project.
Blaz, our MK friend contacted a good friend of his , who is the Director General of DIRCO in Pretoria to facilitate this message. Blaz was told there would be no problem and I sent the DG a letter with our needs. I have not yet received anything from DIRCO to date.
We understand from Angola that they would want to do their own DNA test against the results we already have from Skillie’s sister in order to verify that the remains are in fact those of Skillie.
This would mean leaving the remains there until they have been verified. This would necessitate a second trip to retrieve the remains.
Naturally, if we were to find other evidence ie. Dog Tags, this test would not be needed nor would the second trip.
We don’t know what the Angolan timeline will be for their officials from Luanda, Lubango and Cassinga itself.
If this is very tight, we may have to take the flying option for the exhumation party which would be a minimum of 4 people.
Otherwise, a road option would probably be most cost effective. Either a cheap car hire to Ondangwa then a 4X4 truck hire from Ondangwa to Cassinga and back, with or without the remains.
This expense may have to be incurred again if we have to make two trips.
Some further expenses would be to transport Rachel Human from Port Elizabeth to Pretoria for a funeral parade. Costs of parade at VTM. Bugeler etc.
Stonemasons for opening and closing the niche in the wall. PA system and VTM seating etc.
I hope there are no further surprises in this long and winding road to the conclusion of the project, but we should expect that plain sailing will not be part of the last stage of this project.
2. Project funds
At the request of the PVO National Executive Committee, the auditors included confirmation in the audited financial statements for the year 2021 -2022 that the amount of R 315 570.00 is available for project execution.
Project Report: 9 January 2023
The project is now in the hands of a lawyer from Lubango. I was advised by Rui Lopez, our man in Luanda, to get a lawyer in Lubango to get the final permission from the Governor of the province. The lawyer has presented to the governor who has in turn asked for some of the documentation existing over the 5 years we have been working on this. We have submitted all the old documentation and the governor asked the lawyer to go to Jamba a few hundred KMs away to present to the district commissioner which the lawyer has done.
The District commissioner asked for even more documentation of the work Rui Lopez put in at the beginning. I put Rui and the Lubango lawyer together so that there would be no delay in the provision of the documents. This has streamlined the process as everything is conducted in Portuguese or the local dialects.
We are now awaiting a budget from the Angolan government for the provision of the services they are providing, a budget from our man in Lubango , a budget from the lawyer and a time frame for a small party to visit Lubango and Cassinga, probably by air, to ensure that the project proceeds in the way we intend.
Everyone is aware that the rains can begin at any time, so speed is of the essence.
PROJECT SKILLIE: Report on 12 December 2022
I am in Cape Town until the 16 Dec but am in touch with our people in Angola and am getting reports from the lady lawyer, Adelaide, who is working on our behalf on the Skillie Project.
She has visited the Governors office at Lubango and given them all the documentation, including the letter from the Presidential task team allowing us to exhume the remains. The lawyer was told she needs to clear the project with the district commissioner in Jamba, which is the district within which Cassinga falls. She visited Jamba last week and presented all the documentation again.
The lawyer has asked for a budget from the Angolan government which will cover the per diem costs for the officials they require to attend the exhumation as well as other costs for translations etc. So far, the PVO is in for R1200 to cover the production and translation of the application to the Governor.
I expect that the per diem costs will be about US$100 per day per official as this was the figure Rui Lopez gave two years ago.
We will need to pay the lawyer for her work as well as travel costs from Lubango to Jamba and back.
The plan to attend the exhumation is either a small party (Me, Blaz, Neil the undertaker and the film man Eugene) to fly up to Lubango via Angolan Airlines and get taken to Cassinga by our Angolan friend Stefan by road OR fly up to Cassinga by charter aircraft arranged by Renier Moolman who says he can get the trip financed by he aviation community. We have had to can the use of the Cadaver Dog because there are no longer any protocols in place to get a working dog in and out of Angola from SA.
My feeling is that the Angolan Airlines route is the more likely one, particularly because I am expecting that we get the final go ahead at very short notice because of the coming big rains at Cassinga and because the Angolan government is not wonderful at forward planning.
So, basically, a lot is still in the air, both financially as well as technically.
We don’t know what evidence the Angolan government needs in order to release the remains for export . They may insist on a DNA test. This would mean leaving the remains in Angola while the DNA comparison with Skillie’s sister is made up there as well as here in SA. On the other hand, if we find Skillie’s Dog Tags or other convincing evidence such as his upper front teeth dental plate, this may be satisfactory for the Angolans to release the remains so that we can return to SA with them.
If we have to leave the remains in Angola pending identification, we will then have to go back to pick them up, probably by road with all the Parabats who want to make the journey at their own cost.
PROJEK SKILLIE: VERSLAG OP 30 NOVEMBER 2022
Dis ‘n uitstaande kenmerk van valskermeenhede is dat hulle na ‘n geveg altyd seker maak elke lid is teenwoordig – verkieslik lewend, maar soms gewond of dood. Geen makker word agtergelaat nie.
Nadat Skillie, onder vyandelike en vreemde omstandighede, sy lewe in Angola verloor het, het sy makkers hom nie vergeet nie. Mike McWilliams, wat op verskeie vlakke ‘n ampsdraer van die Parabatveteraneorganisasie (PVO) was, het oor jare as leier van Projek Skillie met harde werk en deursettingsvermoë sy graf probeer opspoor. En watter ingewikkelde en tegniese proses – vol reëls vir prosedures en protokol – is dit om ‘n opgrawings te beplan en te reël!
Twee ander persone het kernrolle gespeel.
Eerstens, omdat oom Koos Moorcroft al meer as vyftien toere in Angola onderneem het, het hy ‘n waardevolle netwerk van kontakte opgebou.
Tweedens, die Namibiese historikus Gordon McGregor, het die area van Cassinga besoek en die omgewing verken waar Skillie rus. In ‘n dorpie het Gordon trouens die inwoner opgespoor wat Skillie gevind en begrawe het.
Ondanks die stilstand wat die Kovid-epidemie oral gebring het, kon die PVO intussen skriftelike toestemming van die Angolese regering reël sodat sy projekspan vry in Angola kan beweeg en die graf sal kan gaan opgrawe.
Omdat die PVO terselfdertyd die Angolese regering ingelig het oor die dood van ene kaptein Jeronimo in Operasie Protea, is hegte bande met die Angolese gesmee.
Voorts, in aansluiting by die uitslag van die onlangse Angolese verkiesing, koördineer die PVO tans hierdie plegtige proses en datum met die bestuur van die provinsie Hulia, en die goedkeuring van die plaaslike departemente van gesondheid en polisie.
Die PVO het Skillie nie vergeet nie, want valskermtroepe laat nie een enkele makker agter nie!
UPDATE: 24 October 2022 – Bring Skillie Home
Progress has been slow, but steady. We have at last received the enabling document for the exhumation from the Angolan Ministerial Task Team, instituted by President Joao Lorenco in Luanda. The last task is to obtain a letter of safe passage from the Governor of Hulia Provence within which Cassinga falls.
This has been slow in coming because the recent national elections in Angola delayed the appointment of the governor and also prevented our teams in Angola from getting a formal appointment with the Governor.
We have been promised that this meeting will take place within the next few days.
Depending on any requirements of the Governor, we have a number of options which we have planned for.
Firstly: A small party may fly to Lubango by Angolan Airlines to meet with the governor and then proceed by road to Cassinga and meet up with the ground party to complete the exhumation.
Secondly: There is a possibility for an airborne party comprising a Cadaver Dog, undertakers and cameraman meeting the ground party at Cassinga and flying the remains back to SA. This option is dependent on sufficient funds becoming available because the cost is way above the amount we have already accumulated for the project.
Thirdly: We may revert to the original plan to do the whole exercise by overland road trip from SA to Cassinga.
While progress has been slow, we knew from the beginning of the project six years ago that this would be the case.
General Opperman warned that it would be a long-term mission. His Ebo project had taken 13 years from start to finish.
I thank you all for you patience and continued support.
We are almost there.
UPDATE: 27 August 2022 – Bring Skillie Home
The PVO has received written confirmation from the Angolan government:
– confirming free movement to the PVO project team in Angola,
– providing approval to excavate the grave site identified by a local resident,
– requesting that the PVO:
• inform Hulia province officials of the governmental approval,
• agree on the date for a party to go to Cassinga.
Given current Angolan elections in progress, finalisation of the date may be delayed.
The funds donated to the project remain under PVO management and are included in the annual audit process to be concluded by the end of October 2022.
Bring Skillie Home
Missing in Action
Andries “Skillie” Human was last seen alive exiting the side-door of a Hercules aircraft at 500ft over the fortified military base Cassinga, 150kms over the border into Angola on May 4 , 1978.
Skillie was only found to be Missing in Action that evening when the Parabats returned to base in SWA.
Speculation that he had landed in the Culonga River which ran alongside the camp was the most probable cause of his disappearance.
Over the years, every tour group that visited the battlefields of Angola was asked to make enquiry as to Skillie’s whereabouts.
In 2011 a rumor spread that Skillie had been found and buried by a local tribesman and this spurred the Parabat Veterans Organization (PVO) to plan a trip to search for the grave. Detailed estimates of Skillie’s landing site were made taking into account the aircraft run-in speed and the location of the landing positions of his stick. The expedition anticipated using Below-Ground Radar and metal detectors to sweep the banks of the river.
While planning proceeded, a windfall came our way. A Namibian Historian visited Cassinga and also made enquiries about Skillie. The historian was taken to a nearby village where he met the man who had actually found Skillies body and buried him.
Skillie had indeed fallen into the river and drowned. A few days after the battle , his body floated to the surface and was retrieved by the headman and buried in a waist-deep grave next to the river. The old man took the historian to the grave site and showed him the indentation in the ground where the body lay.
A detailed GPS reading was taken at the site and photographs.
The grave site is in fact within 100m of the estimated landing area established by dead reconing.
The plans for the expedition were immediately put into high gear and the Ebo Trust was contacted to help with the governmental interaction . The Trust had previously brought three SADF bodies back from Ebo near Luanda and had experience in this kind of project.
General Opperman of the Ebo Trust estimated that a sum of R350 000 would be needed to launch a successful expedition. This was based on the amount used to execute the retrieval of the Ebo remains.
The PVO launched a multi-function fund raising effort in October 2016 and now, just over a year later, we have about R120 000 in the bank.
During the fundraising effort, Mike McWilliams of the PVO was approached by Eeben Barlow, the founder of Executive Outcomes, the famous private security force. Eeben told of a friend of his, an MK soldier who had retrieved remains of dead ANC cadres from Angolan camps. This man had close relationships with both the SA and Angolan governments and was willing to help with the Skillie project.
One of the great difficulties the EBO Trust encountered while in Angola was a lack of cooperation with most government bodies there. This cause big delays and made things more expensive than what they should have been and the PVO was very keen to try to establish a better relationship with the Angolan government.
Another soldier MIA
The Angolan Ambassador to Sa was contacted and asked to help in smoothing the path of the expedition.
She was very happy to do so, and asked whether we could help her in turn. Naturally, the PVO offered any help she may need.
A woman in her embassy in Pretoria was the wife of a FAPLA Captain, Jeonimo, who had gone MIA in 1981 during action against the SADF. Naturally, everyone was keen to find out what had happened to him. The Angolans believed he had been taken prisoner, but had never been repatriated at the end of hostilities.
Despite government to government enquiries and the intervention of the Red Cross, no trace was found of Capt. Jeronimo, dead or alive.
The Angolans knew the date when Capt. Jeronimo went missing and they also knew that he was a tank commander and where he was last seen, Xangongo.
After months of exhaustive investigation, the PVO came to the conclusion that he had not been a POW.
Eventually we tracked down the man who had shot out the only tank to be shot out alongside the Kunene River near Xangongo on that particular day.
The Soviet T34 had been shot out by a Ratel with a HEAT round. The T34 driver and gunner had managed to exit the tank, but died alongside it. The tank commander who took the full force of the HEAT round was killed in the turret.
The tank was driven away by a SADF tanker as a captured weapon with the body of the commander still in the turret.
On interviewing the tanker, he told of extracting the body from the turret the next morning and burying it where the tank had laid up overnight, somewhere in the trackless bush of Angola.
This series of events explained why the body was never found and the captured T43 had been taken back to Pretoria and is now on display at the Army College.
The Angolans are very happy to have an answer to their mystery and are very well disposed to help with the Skillie Project.
We would very much like to Bring Skillie Home in May next year. It will have been exactly forty years since he went missing and his widow, Rachel Human is in poor health and would really like to get closure as soon as possible. May is the time when the rains stop in Angola, so it is the ideal time to launch the expedition.
This means that we need to get the balance of R230 000 between now and then so as to enable us to bring Skillie home and inter his remains at the Voortrekker Monument among all the other soldiers who lost their lives during the bush war.
Skillie Project Leader
Parabat Veterans Organization
082 604 5334
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to see the GPS location of the grave, the historian’s affidavit or the pictures of the grave site.
The audited non profit fund account to help this happen is:
Parabat Veterans Organisation NPC,
Nedbank Account Number 1131959035
with your Surname and “Skillie” as identification.
Lets Bring Skillie Home!