On 11 February 1985, a patrol from 32 Battalion's Charlie Company were in the vicinity of the Bale River, when their over-eager company commander took a short cut, against earlier advice from headquarters, and blundered straight into a well-prepared SWAPO base, manned by some 100 insurgents. In the 25 minute battle that ensued, Charlie Company suffered heavy casualties.
In all, 12 men from Charlie Company were killed in this action or died of their wounds soon afterwards, and many more were wounded. The seven fatalities in the inital contact were:
- Lieutenant Dave Light (killed instantly by a bullet that struck him below his left eye).
- Rifleman P. Kahete (severe schrapnel wounds)
- Rifleman A. de Almeida (a gunshot that penetrated both lungs)
- Rifleman P. Jose (multiple schrapnel wounds)
- Rifleman K. Kalonga (multiple schrapnel wounds to head and torso)
- Rifleman J.C. Chihamba (multiple schrapnel wounds to head and torso)
- Lance Corporal J.A. Sachilombo (multiple schrapnel wounds, including to abdomen)
After dark, while the casualties were being moved to a temporary emergency base, another three wounded men, all suffering from massive chest wounds, died. They were
Information extracted from 32 Battalion: The Inside Story of South Africa's Elite Fighting Unit, by Piet Nortje.
- Riflemen J. Fernando,
- M. Joaquim and
- M. Chipoya.
During the night another badly wounded Rifleman, M.A. Kinguelke, also died. The final death was that of Rifleman M. Muema, who succumbed to his schrapnel wounds at 10:00 the next morning.
Later, radio intercepts indicated that SWAPO lost 15 men killed and a number wounded in this contact, and a further two SWAPO insurgents were killed by Charlie Company and one captured when they approached the base on the morning of 12th February.