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South Africans Start First Official Visit To Castro’s Cuba

March 19, 1989

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ South African diplomats Sunday began their first official visit to post- revolutionary Cuba, arriving to discuss a southern African peace treaty and seek the release of a captured soldier, the state radio reported.

The South Africans will be attending a meeting this week of a joint commission formed to monitor the treaty signed in December by Cuba, South Africa and Angola.

South Africa agreed to grant independence to Namibia and halt aid to the UNITA rebel movement in Angola in exchange for the phased withdrawal of the 50,000 Cuban troops assisting Angola’s Marxist government. UNITA stands for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola.

The South African Broadcasting Corp. said the South African delegation, which includes Foreign Ministry officials and military officers, would be seeking the release of Rifleman Johan Papenfus, who was captured in Angola more than a year ago. Papenfus was taken to Havana for medical treatment and is now held in a military cell.

Papenfus’ brother and sister accompanied the South African officials to Havana and visited the prisoner, the radio said.

One of the issues expected to be discussed by the monitoring commission is the deployment of UNITA forces and guerrillas of the South-West African People’s Organization, which has been fighting for Namibian independence since 1966.

South Africa has complained that Angola-based SWAPO units have failed to comply with an agreement to move northward away from the Namibian border, although the radio reported from Havana that the issue might be resolved.

Angola has complained that UNITA units are making use of Namibian territory in violation of the accord.

Update hourly