Across the Border

War veterans and death squads in South Africa

Helicopters take off on slightly yellowed archival footage. Soldiers from ‘The States’ leave for ‘Nam’ to fight the Red Peril. Familiar images, only this time it involves South Africans who are fighting the liberation army SWAPO and the ANC on the border between Namibia and Angola.
The Apartheid regime sent thousands of young soldiers in the 70’s and 80’s to fight on the border. Alongside the army, there was the very effective Koevoet police unit- a murder machine that made many victims. Little is known about the gruesome facts of the war. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Apartheid regime made more victims in the neighbouring countries than in South Africa itself!

Director Saskia Vredeveld managed to persuade four white war veterans to appear in front of her camera. Leon does not regret having to kill and is proud of his activity in Koevoet. John, Sean and Mark are still at war, but with themselves. They suffer what is called since Vietnam, ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’. Their aggression, paranoid thoughts and actions form a threat to the new South Africa.

1999, 55 min. 16 mm. film

Director Saskia Vredeveld

Research Hans Hartman/Saskia Vredeveld

Photography Melle van Essen

Editing Michiel Reichwein

Sound Wib Nelissen

Production Margriet Kreulen

Broadcast by VPRO
, The Netherlands, and other international networks.
IDFA, and many international film festivals.