About the book:
In early 1976 while working underground as a blaster on ERPM gold mine in Boksburg, Greg Latter was called up for a three-month army camp in Angola, and there was no getting out of it. The truth is, he was actually keen to go. South Africa was at war with the Cubans and he was overcome by a peculiar sense of patriotism. This story is about those three months, told from the day he received his call-up telegram to the day after he got back.
There is nothing gung-ho in the pages of this book. It’s mainly about the cock-ups, of which there were countless, the major one involving Greg himself. Greg has the distinction of being the only soldier in the Transvaal Horse Artillery who saw action in Angola. He shot up one of the SADF’s own vehicles after being ordered to do so by Signalman Podolski, who was in charge of the radio that rainy night. Greg was court-martialled and found not guilty, although thereafter he was taken off guard duty in case of a repeat cock-up. Which suited him no end, of course.
This book is also about the little things, like the kak food; the warm ice cream and hot beers that were so kindly delivered to the middle of nowhere by helicopter; and the butcher who came up with the great idea of finding a waterhole so they could shoot a cow to have some fresh meat. It’s also about the Portuguese refugees Greg encountered, families fleeing from God knows what, lounge suites strapped to the roofs of their cars. It’s about a man coming of age and realising he never needed to go down into the darkness again. The day after he got back from that camp, Greg went down the mine shaft but came straight back out again, signed last shift, and started to live.