Profile of a Bogus Operator


Who is a RECCE?

In the history of the South African Special Forces there were comparatively few operators. Of the total number that ever qualified, around 20% are still serving with about 20% deceased. These individuals were called “the Recces”. A term derived from the 1st Unit when it was established in Oudshoorn in 1972, then called 1 Reconnaissance Commando (the Recce’s).

This then refers specifically to the qualified Special Forces OPERATOR that completed the selection and the full training cycle and was deployed in Special Forces operations. Although the operator’s proficiency badge was not issued in the early years, it later became the only distinctive visible insignia that is today worn by all operators who have ever qualified. In theory No Badge – No Operator – No Recce

Also note that each badge is uniquely numbered and can only be issued once to a specific individual. Operator’s badges are not transferable. It is therefore possible to identify each operator or recce by this personal identity token.

Who then is not a “RECCE”?

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  • Those who served only in a supporting capacity in the South African Special Forces (this could include many different base functions).
  • Those who served in the Reconnaissance wings of other elite units (Examples could be 32 Bn or 31 Bn).
  • Those who served in the South African Airborne units including the Pathfinders (Examples are 44 Para Bde and 1 Para Bn).
  • Those who served under Chief of Staff Intelligence (CSI) in intelligence units. (sometimes referred to as “operators” amongst themselves, but not Special Forces Operators).
  • Those who served in the Special Forces of the (then) South West Africa Territorial Force and did NOT later join the South African Special Forces as operators.
  • Those who became members of the South African Special Forces League (this entity is now defunct and is replaced by the SA Special Forces Association) and were NOT qualified as Special Forces operators.

NONE of the above are issued with an operator’s badge and NONE of them are entitled to be called Recce’s.

This webpage is dedicated to the South African Special Forces Operators (Recces) and its direct support structures that exist to serve the Special Forces in South Africa.

 More detailed information on Wannabe’s, their stories and how to identify them are given below…

Bogus Operators, or “wannabes” are the greatest source of disinformation, misinformation and skewed perceptions of Special Forces.

Such individuals are a disgrace to their country. They steal the honour of real Operators, who have literally sweated blood to Qualify as Special Forces Operators and they dishonour all members of Special Forces and their families – especially the Operators and Support Personnel who made the Supreme Sacrifice – and their families.

They prey off the good nature and good intentions of honest and caring people with their dishonest stories, premeditatedly abusing other people’s integrity or desire to help those in need. Through this, they effectively block or circumvent the provision of assistance to real former Operators – some of who really are in need of one form of assistance or another.

Finally, they also bring dishonour to our country, which has in its Special Forces one of the greatest sources of potential pride – in that not only is it one of the best Special Forces in the world, it was also – through even the most difficult times in our country’s history – a non-racial entity, which gave expression to the true meaning of equality for all. However, contrary to this reality, the wannabes bogus stories, (which are increasingly reported or commented on by international organisations), almost always seek to present a negative image of Special Forces – usually as a means through which the wannabe hopes to garner sympathy, attention or some other form of personal gain.

In following effective international trends as pioneered by the US Navy SEALs and US Special Forces – which trends are currently being taken up by the Australian SAS and other Top Echelon Special Forces internationally – the South African Special Forces Association is beginning to address the unacceptable behaviour of these individuals in a professional manner.

Our “Wall of Shame” is where we publish – for all to see – the names and details of bogus Operators and wannabes who make these false, scurrilous and dishonest claims to have been Operators.

Other than this, and in an effort to assist the general public to be able to spot a bogus Operator / wannabe who is posing as an Operator, we will list here some of the more common fallacies in the stories, which fallacies will immediately indicate that the purveyor is a wannabe.
Before beginning, with describing these fallacies, we would like to point out that almost all wannabe’s stories are usually tales of wail and woe, about “horrific” experiences and “trauma” which have affected them, and which experiences are generally the root cause of their current (often deviant) behaviour or circumstances – which usually include the occurrence of psychological problems, so-called ” flashbacks” or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

As a general rule of thumb, it should be noted that anyone seeking not to take responsibility for his own actions and circumstances, or openly and indiscreetly looking for attention or sympathy – especially from people who he may not know – would almost certainly not be a retired Operator. Similarly, in a recent professional study done on retired Operators – all of whom were war veterans with up to 10 and 15 years constant combat experience – precisely 0% of respondents indicated the occurrence of any psychological problems, so-called “flashbacks” , or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (or anything remotely related to this).

This phenomenon is actually the presentation of something known as “Pseudologia Phantastica”, a (reasonable) description of which can be seen here:

Here follows a description of typical bogus “stories”:


Very often, wannabes will either preface or end their ” stories” with a dramatic or conspiratorial description of how their files were lost / are missing / were destroyed / were misplaced / or some other exotic reason for why these files relating to his activities while, (the famous phrase), he was “in Special Forces” cannot be found or do not exist.

Often, the reasons for the disappearance of such files are said to have been due to some illegal / political / top secret / covert / other act or activity which the wannabe or Special Forces undertook, which necessitated or resulted in the disappearance of said files.

In providing this creative snippet, the wannabe hopes to negate the possibility of someone asking further probing questions which could potentially unmask his dishonesty, or otherwise to provide an explanation as to why there would “not be records of him or his activities at Special Forces”.

Well, it is said that ignorance is bliss. However, in such cases, ignorance is merely a precursor to a wannabe’s appearance on our “Wall of Shame”.

All files from the South African Army – of each and every individual, from the 1800’s onwards – are in fact very well preserved. This is especially so in the cases of highly professional entities like the Special Forces units. Not only were all files very well preserved by the Special Forces Support Staff who saw and see to Administrative functions, no Operator, (or for that matter any other person), was ever allowed access to his own personal file. Furthermore, other than the personal files of each and every person ever serving in Special Forces that were kept at the Special Forces units, there were still more, (numerous), administrative files kept at Special Forces Headquarters.

Other than this, a complete exact duplicate set of all personal and administrative files of each and every individual was kept at Army Headquarters – and no one from Special Forces ever had access to these duplicate files.

These complete duplicate files of each and every person who ever served in the South African military are now, in fact, open for public review under the Freedom of Information Act.

Other than the fact that the extremely close-knit Special Forces community in South Africa knows everyone who was an Operator, we all know that not one file has ever been, (or ever needed to be), destroyed. We also know that all of our files are quite well preserved. Therefore, either every known Special Forces Operator who has ever existed in South Africa is wrong, and the person who makes such claims, (but who no other Operators know of), is right – or the person making such a statement is being dishonest.

If a person makes such a claim, all that needs to be done is to obtain his full names and either his date of Birth or Force Number. A request can then be made at the INA Building in Schoeman Street, Pretoria, (where everyone’s duplicate files are kept), to review the person’s military file under the Freedom of Information Act. We guarantee that the “missing” file will miraculously and rapidly be found – reflecting the claimant’s real military record, which will definitely have nothing to do with Special Forces.

Alternatively, the Association or Brigade can be contacted, as we can verify the claims of any so-called Operator. We have the full details of anyone who ever qualified as a Special Forces Operator.


Another great favourite of the wannabes – especially when they find themselves a bit stuck in the detail of the storyline of their imaginary and exotic stories, or when someone asks a probing question to clear up a point in some of their ramblings – is for them to say “I’d like to tell you, but I’d be killed / I swore an oath to secrecy” or, with a slight variation, “I can’t tell you because I would be killed / I swore an oath to secrecy”.

Well, this is to some extent true insofar as the dying bit is concerned, as any real Operator hearing this would potentially die – from laughing.

Any real Operator will not reveal any details that require secrecy, but this will be so as not to compromise details or operating procedures that would potentially endanger a serving fellow Operator in future or existing operations. In fact, a real Operator will not even begin to tell such “war stories”, as it is considered extremely bad taste amongst us to do so. This is not a dinner party subject, as life and death issues are dealt with – all too often including the deaths of our own colleagues.

Similarly, the “Official Secrets Act” and the “Military Disciplinary Code” actually determine what persons who were in the military may or may not disclose, and anyone breaking the rules under these laws will attract whatever penalty is applicable from the Military Police – not anyone else.

The thought that there are bands of people roving around to dispose of people who regale all and sundry with silly stories is just too ludicrous to comment on. However, should anyone indeed come across an individual who presents such a tall tale in respect of his activities while he was, (that famous phrase again), “in Special Forces”, we would suggest that such persons be redirected to their local Member of Parliament or the South African Police Services for protection while he tells his tale if he feels that his life is threatened by telling it – unless he thinks that the whole world wants to dispose of him.

Alternatively, he could just provide his full names and Force Number or Date of Birth to whoever is listening, and his personal files can then be reviewed at leisure in Pretoria to discover what it is that is of such importance that he “cannot tell”. Guaranteed, he will most definitely never have been an Operator, and will almost certainly never have been “in Special Forces”. Unfortunately, it will also almost certainly reveal that he “cannot tell” because he actually has nothing to tell.

Of course, the easiest procedure is to contact the Association or Brigade, as we can verify whether the person making these claims was ever an Operator. We have the full details of anyone who ever qualified as a Special Forces Operator – and with us, (unlike such claimants), we actually can tell you whether he was an Operator or not – without fear of being killed.


Another favorite, also used by wannabes to try to explain why there would “not be records of him or his activities at Special Forces”, or why “no-one at Special Forces knows him or his real name” .

Well, such persons must have real staying power and ingenuity, as if they were, (that phrase again), “in Special Forces” under a False or “Cover” Name, it is difficult to see how they would have been able to open bank accounts at commercial banks for monthly salary payments (made by the army, not Special Forces), get medical cover for them and their families (from the SA Medical Services, not Special Forces), have life-insurance policies to be paid out if they were Killed in Action, (from private companies, not Special Forces) obtained their Secret or Top Secret Security Clearances, (from Intelligence, not Special Forces), etc, etc. This is just the beginning.

In such cases, interested persons can just contact the Brigade or the Association to check such exotic stories.


Sorry again guys. Every person who Qualified as a Special Forces Operator was issued with an Operators Certificate and an Operators Badge – each with its own unique number. Each and every Operators Badge ever issued is carefully recorded against the full names of the Operator to whom it was issued.

The only exception to this is a small number of persons who Qualified before the Operators Badge was instituted. However, the details and records of all these people exist, and attempts are being made to contact all of them and issue them with their Operators Badges.

Every Operator who ever Qualified and was ever issued with an Operators Badge wears it proudly whenever wearing it is required. Anyone who makes this particular statement has picked a very weak storyline, which is one of the easiest and most rapid to disprove. The Brigade or Association can check such silly claims immediately.


These are too numerous to recount, as they comprise anything that a restless mind could imagine, or any of the story lines of numerous cinema and TV war movies.

However, listed here are some of those that appear to occur most frequently:-
During our training, we were given a puppy/kitten/baby animal of some description, which we had to raise, and then we had to drown it/cut its throat/bludgeon it to death/suffocate it/kill it in some or other gruesome or cruel manner before we Qualified.
The same story as above, except that the baby animal is replaced with a human baby of varying demographic background.

    • We were tasked to kill one of our parents before Qualifying.
    • We were tasked to kill a person (of varying demographic background) before Qualifying.
    • We killed all our wounded colleagues on operations, if they were wounded and could not be brought out.
    • A great favorite – we used to bayonet women and children on operations.

Then there are the atrocity stories. These are too numerous to recount, but you can take your pick of any horrific or deviant act which mentally troubled people could possibly conceive, (or sick movies could show) and it has been done by one of the many wannabes.

All the above story lines are indicators that a person making such claims is almost certainly not a real Special Forces Operator. All claims by persons that they were Special Forces Operators can be confirmed by contacting the Special Forces Association on the link below.

SASFA Events Calendar



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