Operation Carrot (1980)
Objective of the Operation
The group of Swapo infiltrators that crossed the cutline during February 1980 had to be destroyed, eleminated or chased from the white farming community.
Composition of 61 Mechanised Battalion Group
In 1980 there were two seperate forces under command of 61 Mechanised Battalion Group namely:
1. The Operation Carrot forces:
These forces were deployed in the white farming areas with the intention to stop the Swapo infiltation to these areas:
- Three commando units , namely Etosha (Tsumeb), Otavi and Grootfontein commandos.
- A parachute element as reaction force at Tsumeb Airfield
- An infantry company based at Tsintsabis base
- Infantry elements at Tsumeb Shooting range, Casmania base
- Infantry at Otavi
2. The 61 Mech combat forces at Omuthiya:
- Mech Battalion HQ
- 2 infantry companies plus support elements
- Armoured car squadron and support troop
- Medium artillery battery
- Engineer troop
- Maintenance platoon
- A and B echelons
Personal Impressions of the Commander
800 Swapo cadres moved to the Cunene province
From intelligence that was gathered, it became apparent that 800 SWAPO cadres were moved from South West Zambia to the Cunene province in Angola with the intention to intensify activities across the border into Ovamboland.
Kallie du Preez
During February 1980 another group of Swapo infiltrators crossed the cutline into the farming area. An element of this group carried out an attack on the guest farm, La Rochelle of Kallie du Preez. Kallie, like most farmers, was alert and supported by his wife Connie, responded with fire when they spotted the intruders. Kallie killed three of the group of five with his 375 calibre rifle.
Later in the month on 22 February 1980 the dramatic story of the 16 year old school daughter Sonja Dressel of the farm Harabib about 43 kilometres south of Grootfontein unfolded. It was about 18h30 the afternoon when the Dressel-family was alerted by the fact that their telephone was out of order and by the barking of their dogs. They saw five infiltrators crossing the fence who started to fire at the house. The father, Eberhard Dressel (54) was killed soon and Sonja showed bravery by returning fire and killing two intruders whith the G3 rifle. The remainder of the group then fled.
This group was followed up because the population was alert and mobilized. Reports of all the moves of the infiltrators were reported which enabled the security forces to eliminate them all within a period of 4 weeks.
The plans by the Swapo command post to infiltrate into the white farming area had to be stopped and Higher Headquarters started to conduct a number of pre-emptive operations before 31 July 1980.
Compensation paid to citizens
One of the other nice duties I had as commander was to compensate the citizens who had killed infiltrators.
One farmer, Kallie du Preez, who protected his home and killed three of the attackers was compensated R2 000.00 for each SWAPO fighter killed.
The other event was the payment of R4 000.00 to the sixteen year old school girl, Sonja Dressel, from the Rietfontein area, approximately 43 km south of Grootfontein. She got a medal for extraordaniry and exceptional service from the SA Police.