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Operation Kerslig (aka Candle Light) was a South African Defence Force special forces raid on an oil refinery outside Luanda, Angola. The raid took place on 30 November 1981 by members of the 1 Reconnaissance Regiment.

Operation Kerslig
Part of South African Border War
Location Angola
Operation Kerslig is located in Angola
Operation Kerslig (Angola)
Objective Raid on the oil refinery in Luanda.
Date 30 November 1981


The Petrangol refinery was built in 1958 and supplied Angola with petrol, diesel, and jet fuel. The refinery was attacked around 1am on 30 November, with damage sustained to fuel tanks and pipelines while the refinery complex itself incurred no damage.[1] Angolan and western oil officials claimed that if the attack had been successful, the city of Luanda would have taken damage from the explosion and the release of poison chemicals.[1] Jonas Savimbi, leader of UNITA, initially claimed responsibility for the attack by a small assault team firing RPG's.[2] By the 1 December, Angolan officials presented evidence to Western diplomats that the attack had been carried out by South African "mercenaries". It appears that a SADF special forces member, Captain AJP de Kock, was killed when demolition explosives he was laying, prematurely exploded.[3] This ended the operation, with the special forces team fleeing without the objective being completed.[1] His remains, the mines, weapons and other sabotage equipment that was left behind were presented to the worlds media.[1]


The Belguim operator of the refinery reckoned the damage to the refinery would be repaired in two months.[1] Kundi Paiama, Angola's Minister of State Security was demoted after the raid due to security lapses.[4] The raid was acknowledged as a South African special forces operation during the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.[5]


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