Sergeant Pienaar, from Regiment Pretoria, was the commander of an Olifant tank when a tree crushed him in his commander's hatch late November 1987.
We left Calais (approximately 3km inside Angola from Rundu) early the morning to form up with the rest of the battle group at Mavinga to participate in Ops Hooper. (Normally this is a seven day drive up to Mavinga, but it took us fourteen days to do the trip.)
After several navigational errors during the course of the day we got very far behind schedule. Due to all the delays, the squadron commander decided that we should push on through the night trying to catch up on the time lost during the previous day's excursions.
It was more or less mid night when tragedy struck. Pienaar's tank (call sign 13B) struck a tree of approximately 750 cm in diameter. Due to the soft ground and various veld fires in the past, the tree toppled onto the tank, crushing Pienaar in his hatch.
He was still alive, but severely injured at that time.
The squadron's tiffies were called upon and Rocco Greyvensteyn (a good friend of mine) tried to lift the tree from the tank with a hydraulic crane. Unfortunately the tree was too heavy for the crane and it crushed Sgt. Pienaar again which caused his death.
After this incident Rocco was never the same again. He committed suicide at Lohatla in the early 1990's.
Both of you Rest In Peace and remember the tanker's motto : "We Make The Rules"