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For six months the SADF threw everything they had at the town [Cuito Cuanavale]. In December 1987, 1500 Cubans joined the defenders.
With the full power of the SADF aimed at Cuito Cuanavale, Cuban, Angolan and SWAPO forces prepared for a counter-attack. Fifty thousand Cuban volunteers went to Angola to help the fight.
Angolan and Cuban MIG 23 pilots swept the South African Air Force from Angolan skies. But SADF artillery superiority meant they could still rain 20,000 shells onto Cuito Cuanavale every day.
In major battles in January, February and March of 1988, the South Africans failed to take the town. Campbell claims that at this point, press-ganged black SADF soldiers began rebelling and SA president P.K. Botha flew to the front to stop the military command collapsing.
South Africa even considered the use of tactical nuclear weapons, according to Campbell.
Failing to take Cuito Cuanavale with over 9,000 soldiers even after announcing to the world that Cuito Cuanavale had fallen; losing its superiority in the air; and faced with mutinies from the black troops of the pressed ganged battalions, the operational command of the SADF broke down and the president P.W. Botha had to fly to the war zone inside Angola. Botha, it was later revealed had flown in to intervene in a dispute among the South African military high command on whether the apartheid army should use tactical nuclear weapons. Botha decided against the use of nuclear weapons because at that time apartheid South Africa was a pariah state.
The second incident occurred on the night of 22
September 1979, when the U.S. Vela satellite detected the
distinctive flash of a nuclear explosion in the Indian
Ocean-Antarctic region near the coast of South Africa. The
news of the sighting did not break until 25 October, when an
ABC News broadcaster revealed it as information leaked to
him from a government source.
At that time, there were numerous statements, made by several sources, that South Africa, working in conjunction with Israel, had
detonated said atomic device on the night in question.