Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Donald McHenry, said yesterday that South Africa should make some positive gesture of good will to show its commitment to Western plans for a peaceful transition to independence in Namibia Southwest Africa.

The American envoy is on a southern Africa tour to attempt to revive those plans, which were severely set back by South Africa's lightning raid May 4 on guerrilla camps of the black nationalist South West Africa people's Organization (SWAPO) in Angola.

McHenry, who met yesterday with South Africa's secretary for foreign affairs, Brand Fourie, said he wanted to impress upon South Africa the "enormity" of the damage it had caused to the settlement negotiations by the raid.

Before the South African military action against SWAPO, the negotiations to reach an agreement were "within five days of settlement," McHenry told reporters.

Although South Africa has accepted the proposals drawn up by five U.N. Security Council members - the United States, Britain, West Germany, France and Canada - McHenry said there is "widespread belief" that South Africa does not want a peaceful settlement in Namibia because of the raid. It destroyed the principal gerrilla base camp of SWAPO which has not yet accepted the proposals.

South Africa's minister of defense, P.W. Botha, who has been taking a hard line in the settlement talks, told an audience of applauding whites last night that South Africa would repeat its raid into Angola "if it becomes necessary."

Botha complained that double standards were applied against South Africa. France and Belgium could send paratroopers into Zaire to restore order, he said, but when South Africa "defends its kin and its friends in Southwest Africa, then this is described as the devil's work."

The five Security Council members have been mediating between South Africa and SWAPO for more than a year to find agreement on a peaceful transfer of power in the mineral-rich territory. South Africa administers the semi-desert territory under a mandate from the old League of Nations.