A South African soldier held in Angola for more than four years returned home on Wednesday (12 May) after being released in exchange for an alleged Soviet spy.
GV South African Airways jet taxiing at Waterkloof air base.
SV PAN Wife and daughter escorted by military officer towards plane.
GV Intelligence officers down aircraft steps.
GV Johan van der Mescht's parents wait on tarmac with military officer.
GV Mrs van der Mescht boards aircraft, watched by photographers. (2 SHOTS)
GV Johan van der Mescht appears in aircraft doorway, waves to crowd, down steps and embraced by parents. (4 SHOTS)
SV Johan van der Mescht walks across tarmac with parents. (3 SHOTS)
SCU Johan van der Mescht being interviewed, speaking in English.
TRANSCRIPT: REPORTER (SEQ 8) "How did they treat you in Angola?"
VAN DER MESCHT: "Well, that's a very difficult question. That question means a lot. It's not just a question I can answer you ..(INDISTINCT)."
REPORTER:"Were you tortured?"
VAN DER MESCHT:"No, I was not tortured. But I was maltreated."
REPORTER:"Where did you get maltreated?"
VAN DER MESCHT:"... (INDISTINCT)."
REPORTER:"What sort of maltreatment?"
VAN DER MESCHT:"I will have to explain later on. I can't explain now."
REPORTER:"What did you feel as that plane touched down this morning?"
VAN DER MESCHT:"Darling, you want to... (INDISTINCT). I felt like a free man."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A South African soldier held in Angola for more than four years returned home on Wednesday (12 May) after being released in exchange for an alleged Soviet spy. Sapper Johan van der Mescht arrived at Waterkloof air base near Pretoria after a flight from Europe where he was handed over by Soviet officials together with eight Western intelligence agents, who had been held by the Soviets. Sapper van der Mescht was met at the airport by his wife, Cheryl and their four-year-old daughter, Chantal. Agents of South Africa's Intelligence Service, who negotiated the exchange, left the plane first. Van der Mesch's parents waited for him on the tarmac as his wife and daughter went aboard for a private reunion. The Sapper was captured by guerrillas of the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) in February 1978 while on routine patrol He was held in jail in the Angolan capital, Luanda. Until Tuesday (11 May) when South African agents handed over Major Alexei Kozlov, the alleged Soviet spy they arrested in July 1980. The Prime Minister P.W. Botha, claimed in the parliament on the same day that Kozlov was a senior officer in the KGB whose job had been to evaluate Soviet support for outlawed organisations in South Africa.