This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
4. The National Party, Apartheid and the Anatomy of Repression in South Africa, 1948-1994
Apartheid was premised on discrimination, denial and segregation in every area of South African life - social, political and economic. It grossly violated human rights in numerous ways, and on different levels. As time passed the system of human rights violations mutated into different forms, while retaining its essentially discriminatory and violent features. Below we try to highlight laws, policies, actions and the changing nature of apartheid, and show how these contributed to the gross violation of human rights during the period under review by the Commission.
4.1 The post-1948 legislative programme of apartheid
What the National Party did after 1948 was to make colonial segregation and discrimination more systematic, and more far-reaching, and more rigorously implemented and policed.
Thus the early years of National Party rule saw the passage of bedrock segregationist and discriminatory laws, including:
The Population Registration Act (1950) which allocated all South Africans to a particular racial group, from which flowed differential privileges and prohibitions;
The Group Areas Act (1950 and subsequent amendments) which gave the government power to proclaim residential and business areas for the sole use of particular race groups, which, together with forced removals constituted one of the most blatant violations of the property rights of black people since the early years of colonial domination;
The Separate Amenities Act (1953) which wrote into law the principle that members of different races might not enjoy the same public amenities;
The Bantu Education Act (1953) which redefined the content and purpose of African schooling and vested its direct control in the Department of Native (later Bantu) Affairs; as well as laws on Coloured and Indian education and on tertiary institutions.
Other early apartheid legislation introduced sharp new curbs over the urban residential rights and rights as urban workers of the African population:
The Native Labour (Settlement of Disputes) Act (1953) excluded African workers from the formal system of industrial relations;
The Native Laws Amendment Act (1952) and Natives (Urban Areas) Amendment Act (1955) tightened the terms under which African men and women might legally live in urban areas;
The Native Building Workers Act (1951) and Industrial Conciliation Act (1956) extended the operation of job colour bars, and passes to women.
A further set of laws passed by the new National Party government sought to restrict legally permissible forms of political behaviour and protest:
The Suppression of Communism Act (1950) not only proscribed the Communist Party of South Africa but created a series of offences under an extremely broad and vague definition of "communism";
The Criminal Law Amendment Act (1953) - a response to the 1952 Defiance Campaign - made it a criminal offence subject to heavy penalties to break any regulation "by way of protest, or in support of any campaign against any law";
The Public Safety Act (1953) which gave the Minister of Justice the power to declare a state of emergency during which the ordinary law of the country would be suspended;
The Criminal Procedures Act (1955) which, among others, allowed the state to designate the location of trials anywhere in the country irrespective of the area of abode of the accused, and gave Attorneys-General the right to prevent the granting of bail.
The Prohibition of Interdicts Act (1956) which denied Africans the right to lodge interdicts and stop actions that may cause harm.
These are just a few examples of the hundreds of laws that were put on the statute book to control the lives of black South Africans from the cradle to the grave. All these unjust laws also made it impossible to use the courts for redress against violations of human rights. Not infrequently, the whites-only parliament speedily passed amendments and new legislation to close legal loopholes, which further undermined human rights. This combination of social and repressive laws fitted the overall political and economic objectives of the apartheid government - taken together they reflected, cold deliberate, planning and calculation.
4.2 The repressive apartheid security state, 1960-1974
Yet, drastic as was the legislation of the 1950s, it is abundantly clear that in the 1960s the government became even more ruthlessly authoritarian. A battery of new laws were passed, transgressions of human rights became more blatant, and efforts at social engineering intensified dramatically, causing considerable social dislocation.
Central to the new authoritarianism were sweeping restrictions on political activity; increased the powers of the police, and further subversion of the independence of the courts; and sweeping provisions for detention without trial, creating conditions in which the use of torture during interrogation became widespread. Central to this shift was a barrage of security legislation, including:
The Unlawful Organisations Act (1960) in the terms of which the ANC and PAC were declared unlawful in April 1960;
The General Laws Amendment Act (1962, 1963, 1965) including the "Sabotage Act" which defined sabotage breathtakingly widely, so as to include tampering with property and the illegal possession of weapons and granted police the authority to detain people without charge and in solitary confinement for single or successive periods of 12 days (1962), 90 days (1963), or 180 days (1965);
The Terrorism Act (1967) introduced the concept of indefinite detention without trial and provided startlingly broad definitions of "terrorism";
The Internal Security Act (1972, amended in 1976) consolidated the legislation detailed above, retained the major "offences", provided for indefinite "preventive detention", and further restricted the jurisdiction of the courts.
The pattern of this security legislation is clear. It curtailed the sphere of legitimate political opposition by enlarging the definition of "criminal" offences, which was in some instances applied retrospectively, and presumed the accused guilty until proven innocent. It expanded the powers of police and jailers. It violated the normal tenets of the rule of law by its widespread abrogation of individual rights and denial of due process. The security legislation increased the coercive powers of the state in the maintenance of what was a fundamentally unjust social and political order.
More than this: in permitting detention without trial and solitary confinement for indefinite periods, the security laws drew new zones of penal licence which rapidly became blurred. From its inception during the early 1960s, security legislation and its implementation have generated widespread allegations of physical and mental abuse of people held in detention. Individual officers abused their powers of interrogation; interrogation became torture; torture became routine. The methods of torture, both physical and psychological, were honed to a fine art - not as an aberration by a few sadistic individuals, but as a result of training and indoctrination of police officers, both inside the country and with the help of apartheid allies such as the colonial fascists in Mozambique and Angola, and the colonial administration in Algeria and elsewhere. Certain police officers who were torturers in the 1960s later rose to senior positions in the force, indicative of the degree of legitimacy accorded by the apartheid regime to this behaviour.
Survivors of torture continue to suffer for many years afterwards: as one victim put it recently,
Many women detainees suffered sexual abuse and even rape at the hands of their captors.
A grim mountain of depositions and court evidence stands as record to abuses suffered by generations of detainees: at its apex are over sixty deaths - from Ngudle and Saloojee, to Timol, Haron, Biko, Aggett, Malatji and all the others.
The torment of prisoners and detainees did not end there: their families and friends were also frequently subjected to sustained harassment, surveillance, and mental torment which in some cases proved too much: there have been many tragic cases of spouses and relatives of prisoners breaking under this kind of pressure. Children of women detainees and prisoners in particular often suffered most: while some swelled the ranks of the liberation movement, others were thrown onto the streets to fend for themselves.
At the same time, the courts were obliged by means of law and other pressures to impose heavy sentences - at times on false allegations, as in the case of Vuyisile Mini, Wilson Khayingo and Zinakile Mkhaba, who were members of the Eastern Cape Regional Command of MK. They were hanged after being found guilty of sabotage and the murder of a member of MK who had turned state witness. Subsequently three other men - one of whom was found guilty of the actual execution - were also condemned to death for this murder.
4.3 The institutional violence and social consequences of apartheid
While the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is tasked with identifying the harshest violations of human rights during the apartheid years, it cannot remove the specific cases it will be dealing with from this broader context where the dispossessed and disenfranchised masses faced violence, discrimination and the violation of their human rights on a daily basis during the colonial and apartheid eras. As the ANC argued in 1969:
During the 1960s, concurrent with the creation of the new "security state" and new legislation, the apartheid rulers embarked on radical new forms of social engineering designed to defend and entrench white minority rule, which had far-reaching consequences. A social order already distinctive for deep-seated, legalised inequalities premised upon racial classification now experienced new levels of what has been characterised in authoritarian societies as "bureaucratic terrorism". In essence, bureaucratic terror in South Africa involved the use of state power against individuals and groups who are already economically subordinate, socially discriminated against, and politically without rights. Instances of the phenomenon included:
huge numbers of arrests (in the 1960s hundreds of thousands annually) for contravention of pass laws;
large-scale forced removals and resettlements, mainly to the Bantustans;
the clearance of so-called "black spots" (pockets of land held in freehold by African farming communities);
the endorsing out of urban areas of so-called "surplus people";
the redefinition of all Africans as "citizens" of ethnic homelands or Bantustans.
The implementation of basic apartheid measures (such as pass laws, influx control, urban areas restrictions, job reservation, separate amenities, and so on) meant that basic "first generation" human rights - such as the franchise, civil equality, freedom of movement or association - were denied systematically and massively. The brute bureaucratic reality of the apartheid era - an unthinking, everyday denial to individuals of their basic human dignity - is directly analogous to Hannah Arendt's famous characterisation of the "banality of evil" in Nazi Germany.
Secondly, the social order underpinned by apartheid also rode roughshod over "second generation" human rights, such as the right to education, health care, housing, security and social welfare. The statistics of racially inscribed inequalities under apartheid are too well known to require detailed recapitulation: whether the measure is infant mortality, nutritional intake, life expectancy, literacy, domestic or per capita earnings, employment levels or property ownership, the findings are the same. Academic studies have shown that according to internationally accepted measurements South Africa has the unenviable distinction of having the most unequal distribution of income for any economy for which data is available. Apartheid and the callous denial of basic rights that went with it are directly responsible for the fact that as much as half of South Africa's population lives below the "least generously drawn poverty line".
The cumulative impact of apartheid laws and government actions between 1948 and the late 1960s was immense. They allocated political, social, economic and cultural rights to individuals on the basis of their race. They inhibited such basic rights as freedom of movement, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association for millions of South Africans - and they did so, ironically, at the precise juncture that these and related rights were recognised as basic human rights across the globe. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in the same year that the National Party won the whites-only general election on a platform embracing apartheid and swart gevaar.
In the final analysis all this rested on entrenching the dominance of, and accruing privileges for, the white minority in general and Afrikaners in particular. The group, and the group only, mattered: to improve its opulence, promote its languages, cultures, education and other amenities, at the expense of the black majority. In the inverse, the warping of white children's minds, their psychological and physical brutalisation in the security forces, the fear psychosis and denial of independent thought within the white community - all these mattered not, as long as the National Party elite consolidated its power.
4.4 The judiciary and other forms of repression
Whole sectors of South African society - the law courts, churches, media, education, business, sports and cultural sectors - both actively and indirectly reinforced apartheid exclusion, discrimination and the violation of human rights. It is not possible to deal in a comprehensive way with the different forms of the institutionalised gross denial of human rights under apartheid here, but the shameful behaviour of the medical establishment in the events surrounding the death of Steve Biko, and the distortion of justice which systematically occurred in the South African law courts are just two examples.
Tens of thousands of black South Africans were funnelled through the apartheid courts, usually without legal representation and with racially and ideologically biased white, male judges and magistrates in charge, and turned into criminals in the process, compounding racial polarisation.
At the highest level there was clear support for apartheid, as many judges were political appointees. As the National Association of Democratic Lawyers have pointed out, selected judges were in many cases put in charge of political trials and were responsible for the judicial murder of people fighting against apartheid. In many cases these judges allowed evidence that was extracted under torture or duress. Judges condoned the barbaric practises of the apartheid security police and gave apartheid terrorism laws a veneer of legal respectability. Together with magistrates and prosecutors they were quick to defend or cover up police brutality and thereby facilitate the work of the apartheid security system, for example in routinely finding (as in the case of Joseph Mdluli) that people who had undoubtedly been tortured and injured had died after "falling off a chair" or "slipping down a staircase".
Judicial commissions produced ideologically oriented reports which promoted the goals of the apartheid state or covered up its culpability in cases of gross human rights violations, e.g. the Schlebush Commission of the 1970s, the Kannemeyer Commission investigating the Uitenhage massacre in 1985, and the Harms Commission. Law societies and bar councils, which are supposed to be the watchdogs of law and legal standards, struck from the roll anti-apartheid activists convicted of crimes against the apartheid state, including Bram Fischer, Ntobeko Maqubela, Kader Hassim, M.D. Naidoo and Rowley Arenstein. In the 1980s, in particular, innocent people were charged with "public violence", when in fact the violence arose from the police and not the public (as in the infamous Trojan Horse case in Cape Town).
In all of the state institutions referred to above, there were government appointees who, quite clearly, were carefully chosen to advance the cause of apartheid. If they were involved in education, they religiously invoked Bantu education, which subsequently led to the eruption in black schools in 1976. The Dutch Reformed Church, which provided "biblical" justification for apartheid, became known as the "National Party at prayer". Courts of law meted out severe punishments to opponents of apartheid and proponents of democracy.
What chance would a black person have of acquittal if, for instance, he or she were an anti-apartheid activist appearing before Justice HHW de Villiers? This judge, who retired in 1961, wrote a book on the Rivonia trial. This is how he characterised the African population of South Africa:
The judge's book was an argument for the death penalty in the Rivonia trial. Clearly, had he been on the bench, he would have sentenced President Mandela and his co-accused to death.
The catalogue of legal and institutional discrimination that occurred under apartheid goes on and on and needs acknowledgment if a human rights culture is to flourish in the new South African legal system. The ANC therefore supports the call for judges, magistrates and prosecutors involved in gross travesties of justice to appear before the TRC.
4.5 Forced removals and forced incorporation: A case study of the further violation of black people's property rights and the institutional violence of apartheid
Grand apartheid had at its core a vision of a South Africa that belonged to whites and where black people either lived in bantustans or were temporary residents in urban areas, while working for whites.
Implementing this vision was a decades-long process that entailed large population removals as part of an elaborate social and geographical engineering exercise. The Surplus People Project, which has produced the most authoritative documentation of the history and scale of forced removals estimated that between 1960 and 1982 over 3.5 million South Africans were moved as part of this policy. Tens of thousands of other people lived for many years under constant threat of losing their homes, while yet others lost their South African citizenship as boundaries were redrawn to incorporate them into homelands that were earmarked for "independence."
These processes resulted in untold human suffering and misery. Communities were broken up; families were separated and lost their homes and productive resources such as livestock, trees and farming implements. In many cases people were not compensated at all. Resistance to forced removals was met with severe repression by the state and resulted in people being killed and jailed.
The social dislocation caused by forced removals and the destruction of viable and cohesive communities has arguably been one of the most devastating consequences of apartheid.
In most cases communities were put in places far from their original homes and places of work. Jobs were lost, or people forced to become migrant workers in order to support their families. Conditions in resettlement camps were appalling. Often, people were dumped with little more than tents, tin toilets and trucked-in water. Poverty levels increased dramatically in these areas.
As a result of forced removal, many children and old people died from diseases related to malnutrition and poor living conditions.
The policy of forced removals was met with fierce resistance by the affected communities. In many cases long and expensive legal battles were fought. Most of these were lost as the legislation in terms of which removals took place was authoritarian and relied on the powers of administrative decree and did not allow for review, or recourse. Section 5 of the 1927 Black Administration Act for example, allowed the State President to order a community to move from any one place in South Africa to another within a specified period of time. Forced removals were implemented as a "normal" part of the running of government. Armed with an arsenal of authoritarian legislation and policy, and backed by the repressive arms of the state, civil servants carried out actions that destroyed lives, families and communities. In the process of each struggle against removal, the state used its repressive powers to a greater or lesser degree. In the forced removals and the resistance of the 1980's, detention without trial, torture, and shootings became a feature of many struggles.
Forced removals began in earnest in the mid 1950s and continued for over three decades. In recognition of the suffering and loss experienced by victims of forced removals, the Interim Constitution grants a right of restitution to specified individuals and groups. But the Restitution Commission and Land Claims Court only focus on land loss. They do not provide redress for other forms of loss and suffering experienced by victims of forced removals, or recognition of the victims' pain and suffering.
The following cases serve to give some indication of the level of human rights violations that accompanied the removal process.
Bakubung - The Bakubung live in the North West Province. They resisted removal for many years. In the process members of the community were arrested and detained without trial. Some of these people were severely tortured. Others were charged with treason and at least three leaders of the community were killed.
Crossroads - The Coloured Labour Preference Policy in the Western Cape meant that strenuous attempts were made to prevent African people from settling permanently in the area. Poverty and unemployment in the Transkei resulted in large numbers of people migrating to the Cape in search of work. Large informal settlements such as Crossroads were established and housed this population. Crossroads was destroyed by the authorities many times. Shacks were bulldozed and people left homeless, often in the middle of the wet Cape winter. The final destruction of Crossroads took place in the 1980's and was carried out by a combination of a vigilante force called the Witdoeke, the "kitskops" of the period, with the security forces standing by, and in some cases actively colluding with the attackers.
Langa (Uitenhage) - Langa was one of the oldest Port Elizabeth townships. Its location close to town meant that for many years its population was earmarked for removal to a new township further away from town. The community was well organised and resisted the removal. In June 1986, when the State of Emergency was declared, the township was removed. The use of emergency powers, including a gag on the press, was the only way that this could be carried out. In the early hours of the morning, the security forces cordoned off the township with barbed wire, any leadership figures who had not yet been detained were arrested, and the removal went ahead. In the process community members who tried to resist were brutally treated.
Mogopa - The Mogopa community was forcibly removed on February 14 1984 after a long period of resistance. The removal took place under Section 5 of the Black Administration Act. The farm was cordoned off and no outsiders were allowed into the area. The community was then ordered by the police to demolish their homes and pack their belongings. They were loaded onto trucks and had to sell their livestock at low prices. They were dumped at a place called Pachsdraai near the Botswana border. There, they were placed under the control of a discredited chief who had already allocated the arable land to the ten families who supported him. The Mogopa people fled Pachsdraai, rather than live in such misery. Their wanderings lasted almost ten years, before they finally managed to return to their homes. During this time, many old people died, a once prosperous community was reduced to poverty, and all that they had built up on their land was destroyed.
Mfengu - The Mfengu community was removed from their land in Tsitsikama to a barren dumping ground in the Ciskei at Keiskammahoek. Conditions were so bad, and the community so far from employment, that many old people and children died in the period following the removal. The leaders of the resistance to the removal were detained and harassed.
Driefontein - The community of Driefontein had its origins in a land purchase organised by Pixley Ka Seme in 1913. Over the years the landowners of Driefontein, the Council Board of Directors, built up their community, and also gave refuge to many evicted farm workers, who became tenants on the land. The community was identified as a "black spot" by the government and threatened with forced removal. This was strongly resisted by the entire community. Its leader Saul Mkhize was shot dead at a community meeting by a local policeman, Constable Nienaber. Despite the fact that this was witnessed by hundreds of people, the inquest into Saul's death found that nobody was to blame for the incident.
Moutse - For many years the Moutse community near Groblersdal successfully resisted forced removals. The Government then tried to strip them of their South African citizenship by redrawing boundaries to incorporate the community into the KwaNdebele bantustan, whose Chief Minister had agreed to opt for homeland independence.
The Moutse community vowed not to accept this and to fight for their right to remain South African citizens. On the day that the incorporation was gazetted, the area was attacked by a group of vigilantes named Mbokodo. This group, acting in support of the KwaNdebele government, unleashed a reign of terror on the Moutse community, and on KwaNdebele residents opposing independence. Mbokodo was then incorporated into the police force through the municipal police ("kitskop") system, and their violence and repression became institutionalised. During the two-year struggle many people were detained, tortured, maimed and killed. The homes of leaders of the resistance were constantly raided and their property destroyed. The names of particular policemen, as well as KwaNdebele politicians, feature over and over again in the statements of the victims. Despite this, cases were not followed up or investigated properly by the authorities.
Braklaagte and Leeufontein - As was the case with Moutse, the Braklaagte and Leeufontein communities, living 20km outside Zeerust were forcibly incorporated into Bophuthatswana. Due to their resistance community members experienced years of intense repression. The Braklaagte chief was deposed by Mangope and a more pliant person was put in his place. A mobile police station was set up in the village and the police based there conducted regular raids. Many youths were detained and taken to Motswedi police station at Lehurutse where they were viciously beaten and tortured. A number of people were shot dead during this period. A particularly cruel aspect of this period was the refusal by the Bophuthatswana police to allow funerals to go ahead. In one bizarre case, the police confiscated a coffin with the corpse in it and for over a week moved it from place to place to prevent the family from proceeding with the burial.
The Group Areas Act also destroyed and displaced Coloured and Indian communities: there were forced removals from areas such as District Six in Cape Town, Pageview and Fordsburg in Johannesburg, and Grey Street in Durban, to quote but a few examples. These removals were also accompanied by the seizure of property and the withdrawal of business licences; as well as the application of violence or the threat of it.
The above examples do not provide any of the details of human rights violations which accompanied forced removals. Nor do they reflect the countrywide spread of cases. It is clear that forced removals are in themselves a crime against humanity. People were removed from ancestral lands; dumped in the middle of nowhere; their community fabric destroyed; their places of worship vandalised, destroyed or left to stand in waste far away from the new settlements.
Those responsible for these crimes are the political leaders of the former regime and the civil servants who turned gross inhumanity into a bureaucratic system. The wholesale trampling upon first and second generation human rights of black South Africans reflected in this case study of forced removals happened on a massive scale at every level of South African society during the period being investigated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
4.6 Mass repression by the regime in the face of mass protest
The early 1970s witnessed a slowdown in the economy and increased privations among the black population. Spontaneous as well as organised mass resistance began to surface for the first time in a decade. The emergence of the Black Consciousness Movement, independent trade unions, and secondary school student organisations was accompanied by an upsurge of revolt in black tertiary institutions and workers' strikes.
These developments coincided and increasingly interacted with the reconstruction of an underground presence of the liberation movement. Regionally, the end of Portuguese fascism hastened the assumption of power by FRELIMO and the MPLA in Mozambique and Angola respectively; while in what was then Rhodesia, Smith's illegal UDI regime was under increasing pressure from ZANU and ZAPU. Internationally, hostility to apartheid deepened. In 1973 the United Nations General Assembly declared apartheid "a crime against humanity". Many states which did not support the resolution in 1973 adopted the same language after the revulsion engendered by the National Party's ruthless suppression of the youth revolt in 1976, the murder of Steve Biko in 1977, and the new wave of bannings.
The apartheid regime had, in this period, expanded its joint operations with the Rhodesian and Portuguese colonial regimes; and in 1975 invaded newly-liberated Angola, in an effort to secure the last bastions of white domination and colonialism in the subcontinent.
Faced with internal mass upsurge, the response of the regime was brute force: detention, closure of institutions, brutal suppression of demonstrations and strikes; and, in 1976, cold-blooded shooting of unarmed pupils. The actions of the regime on 16 June 1976, and in the 18 months following this eruption, brought out in bold relief the determination of the apartheid regime to deny human rights at all costs.
Notes taken during a Cabinet meeting by Jimmy Kruger, at the time Minister of Police, reveal an extraordinary level of self-delusion, or the deliberate denial of reality in order to justify murder:
Unrest in Soweto still continues. The children of Soweto are well-trained. (...) The pupils/students have established student councils. The basic danger is a growing black consciousness, and the inability to prevent incidents, what with the military precision with which they act. The Minister proposes that this movement must be broken and thinks that police should perhaps act a bit more drastically and heavy-handedly which will entail more deaths.
As the decade came to a close, there was an attempt on the part of the state to employ a new approach grounded in "total strategy", an explicit commitment to mobilise military, economic, physical and psychological resources in defence of the existing order. It brought senior police, Defence Force and intelligence officers directly into the formulation and implementation of government policy, through the State Security Council and the National Security Management System.
4.7 The height of apartheid repression: Counter-revolutionary strategy and tactics, the National Security Management System, States of Emergency, and the extra-legal terror of the 1980s
In 1977, PW Botha (at the time Minister of Defence) mapped out the terrain in which the NSMS would be operating when he introduced the Defence White Paper:
The National Security Management System (NSMS) was instituted in 1979 as the instrument to co-ordinate all state actions and implement reforms in line with "total strategy". Over the years the government had built a large network of Security Police and upgraded the police force in general to deal with mass protest. BOSS, the civilian intelligence agency, expanded its operations. Torture, recruitment of activists, employment of agents provocateurs, propaganda against anti-apartheid forces, and the employment of vigilantes became the stock-in-trade. The NSMS aimed to achieve maximum efficiency and co-ordination of all these methods, and drew in the additional capacity of the SADF, particularly its intelligence wing.
The NSMS, and its later versions, were premised on the belief that it is possible to manage change through the redefinition of political, military and economic constructs in a manner to the advantage of those who hold the levers of state power. The underlying conceptual framework of the NSMS was that 80% of actions to contain the security threat should be political, and only 20% military; it was believed that the majority of people were politically neutral, and only a small radical elite of "agitators", "communists" and "terrorists" existed, who should be killed. In this scenario, there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the status quo. The apartheid state sought to create political stability through limited reforms to apartheid combined with a variety of measures to counter the influence of pro-democracy groups and the liberation movement; these ranged from setting up a range of "counter-organisations," to attempts to brainwash or psychlogically influence target groups, to measures designed to defuse material grievances by upgrading infrastructure and the provision of services, particularly in those areas considered trouble spots or "oliekol" (oil spot) townships.
This period saw the genesis of the trend towards increasingly sophisticated covert operations, continuing into the 1990s, which included illegal methods (even by the regime's own standards) to suppress and disrupt the resistance movement. In addition to attempts to bolster the discredited bantustan and community councillor systems in general, there were renewed attempts to find or create "credible" alternatives to the ANC.
Such initiatives included psychological pressure and misinformation directed at the leadership of Inkatha to drive them further away from the liberation movement. These methods drew on theories developed on the basis of experiences of other wars against national liberation movements, and from methods to destroy dissent adopted by other right-wing regimes, particularly in Latin America.
The NSMS became fully functional in the mid-1980s as the apartheid state attempted to destroy the mass popular resistance which had taken root by this time. As the crisis deepened, the intelligence services, particularly Military Intelligence, increasingly assumed political influence and even executive control over this shadow bureaucracy, which in some respects duplicated the existing administration and displaced its decision-making structures. The State Security Council (SSC), although technically a committee of the cabinet, usurped many of the cabinet's executive functions. The SSC effectively ran the country as a super-cabinet without any such statutory power, giving credence to the notion that a creeping military coup was taking place in South Africa.
The 1980s saw successive States of Emergency in which all resources of the state were harnessed by the NSMS to smash new forms of popular resistance that had emerged. The leadership of the UDF and its affiliates was ruthlessly rounded up and restricted. Scores of thousands of people were detained without trial; and many more were shot dead, maimed, whipped, tear-gassed and baton-charged. Open political activity by legal anti-apartheid groups became virtually impossible.
Besides the more conventional forms of state harassment and repressive laws, anti-apartheid activists and organisations were increasingly subjected to new terror tactics: "vigilante" groups which sought out and murdered activists, or launched mass attacks on communities with the tacit or overt support of the SAP; pseudo-revolutionary groups which sowed confusion and death in communities; criminal gangs which appeared to operate above the law as long as most of their victims were pro-democracy activists; assaults, arson, slashed or over-inflated tyres, dead cats nailed to doors, bricks crashing through windows, bombed and burgled offices, kidnappings, increasing attacks on exiles and activists in neighbouring states, and the ever-present threat of death as mysterious "hit squads" stepped up their activities.
This extract from a paper titled Some Possibilities in Counter-Insurgency Operations, written in 1977 by SADF officer and writer on military affairs, Helmoed-Romer Heitman, is relevant; many tactics of this nature were adopted against the ANC:
If resistance took on a mass character in the 1980s, so did repression and the deliberate flouting of human rights by the security forces and their masters.
4.7.1 The co-ordinating mechanism for repression in the 1980s: the NSMS
Ultimate control over the SSC and the NSMS was vested in the Office of the State President, who chaired the SSC.
The statutory functions of the SSC included advising the Government with regard to
The SSC was served by a Secretariat consisting of around 100 full-time staff seconded from various state departments. This Secretariat was divided into four branches: the Strategy branch, the Strategic Communications Branch, the National Intelligence Interpretation Branch, and an Administration Branch.
The activities of this SSC Secretariat, particularly the Strategic Communications Branch, are of particular importance to investigations into gross human rights abuses in the 1980s and 1990s. The Strategic Communications branch, according to a former SAP officer who was seconded to this structure, was tasked with working out a total package of strategy alternatives in response to requests coming from Ministries, government departments, or JMCs. Such strategies could include tactics such as assassinations, attacks on neighbouring countries, economic sabotage, campaigns of character defamation, setting up front companies, propaganda campaigns - in general, the entire gamut of what have come to be known as "dirty tricks" operations. Such plans would be passed up the chain of command to the SSC which would select the appropriate strategy. Implementation would be carried out at the level of the Strategic Communications Branch, or sent down the NSMS chain for implementation at other levels, and any group, institution or individual considered appropriate could be drawn in to implement such plans. Every government department had "stratkom" committees, at times called "nodal points" or "special services."
Examples of work of this nature include the establishment of a network of state agents in the media, the diversion of trade union subscription payments into a private bank account, in order to disrupt the activities of the union and sow suspicion the members and the leadership, exploding a bomb outside a cinema showing a film about Steve Biko, followed by the use of agents in the media to implicate the AWB. Other operations were far more elaborate, crossed international borders and continued over an extended period of time. According to former SAP officer John Horak, who served on structures of this nature, stratkom operations, most simply expressed, aim to "rout the enemies of the government" and "give the government the space to do what it wants to do." Stratkom operations rest on the "principle" that it is perceptions, rather than the truth, which matter.
At the level of the SSC the actual operational details of any project were not discussed, specifically in order to make it technically true for political officials to deny all knowledge of many of these covert actions.
Under the overall direction of the SSC, thirteen Interdepartmental Committees co-ordinated the activities of relevant government departments. At a regional and local level it co-ordinated the work of 10 Joint Management Centres (JMCs) the boundaries of which coincided with the 10 Regional SADF Commands (and one other JMC for the Walvis Bay military area); 60 sub-JMCs with their boundaries corresponding to those of the SAP Districts, and over 350 mini JMCs existing at municipal / SADF Commando area level.
This singular network of JMC structures was tasked with the co-ordination of "social upliftment", security and intelligence-gathering functions. Every JMC structure consisted of four committees: welfare intelligence security and communications - more accurately, disinformation and propaganda. Government departments at all levels, parastatals, and business representatives were drawn into the network, and "community liaison forums" were set up in an attempt to extend the network to grassroots level.
The SSC therefore controlled a totalitarian national network which reached into every part of the country, identifying anti-apartheid activities, formulating a continuous national security profile, and making decisions on action at national and local levels which could then be implemented by the formal law enforcement structures backed by legislation, or by other structures acting covertly. As Max Coleman of the Human Rights Commission put it, "here we encounter, not acts of Parliament, no laws nor promulgated regulations, but centres of control receiving information, making decisions and issuing instructions. All without any constitutional status, but nevertheless supported by secret budgets and resources with no public accountability."
With the declaration of the first State of Emergency, the National Joint Management Centre (NJMC), chaired by the Deputy Minister of Law and Order, took over as the nerve centre for macro co-ordination of all welfare and security policies. Located in the Office of the State President, the NJMC was tasked with the executive co-ordination of the implementation of SSC decisions, and managed the Emergency on a day-to-day basis. Roelf Meyer took over this post from Adriaan Vlok at the beginning of December 1985.
By mid-1986 the State Security Council and the NJMC formed the apex of state power. These committees and their subsidiary network of co-ordinated structures that made up the NSMS bordered on constituting a separate arm of government, and became the vanguard of state action.
4.7.2 Formal repression
Formal repression in the 1980s was based on repressive laws passed by the apartheid parliament and the existence of a massive law enforcement machinery. In addition over 32,000 SADF troops were deployed in 96 townships in 1985 to support the SAP.
Using laws like the Internal Security Act (No 74 of 1982), the 1953 Public Safety Act and the Public Safety Amendment Act (No 67 of 1986), as well as bantustan variations of these laws, the apartheid authorities were able to place severe restrictions on legitimate political and social activities and invade every corner of public and private life. For example:
Successive States of Emergency, covering a large number of magisterial districts, were in operation from 1985 to 1989.
Over 80,000 people, including over 1,500 children were detained without trial, some for periods of up to two and a half years.
According to human rights groups, over 10,000 detainees were tortured, assaulted or suffered other forms of abuse.
Over 70 detainees died in detention during this period.
At least 3,000 people were banned restricted and placed under house arrest.
Hundreds of activists had their passports withdrawn.
Over 500 people were gagged by the Consolidated List; they could not be quoted, even once deceased.
Several newspapers and publications were banned, suspended or restricted - over 35,000 books were banned for possession and distribution in South Africa between 1960 and 1991, and in some cases newspapers were prohibited even from printing blank spaces where material had been censored.
Thousands of people were prosecuted in numerous political trials. Many were jailed and others executed, 7 people in just 1988/9, for example.
Over 100 organisations were banned as unlawful, or restricted either fully or partially.
Outdoor political gatherings were banned and literally thousands of indoor gatherings were banned. Funerals were restricted. Such gatherings were frequently dispersed by violent means on the grounds that they were illegal.
In addition, "legal" measures were at times used for political reasons to deliberately disrupt attempts to halt violence, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal. On the eve of peace talks between the UDF and Inkatha in mid-1989, Adriaan Vlok tightened restrictions on key UDF negotiators - effectively placing them under house arrest - thereby disrupting the process. According to lawyers acting for the UDF and Cosatu at this time, this was the seventh occasion since November 1987 on which Vlok had acted at crucial moments to derail peace moves in the region.
4.7.3 Informal repression and counter-mobilisation: surrogates, "vigilantes", hit squads, and "stratkom" operations
Under the States of Emergency in the 1980s, the government placed bans on every conceivable form of political protest, including work stayaways. In addition to these "lawful" repressive measures, a range of covert activities were conducted by the state or its proxies against the democratic opposition.
184.108.40.206 Theories of counter-revolutionary warfare
It is worth revisiting the theories of counter-revolutionary warfare which underpinned state violence and covert activities in the 1980s and 1990s. The counter-revolutionary warfare tactics implemented during the 1980s were adopted from the writings of various Western military strategists; one of the most favoured for his "practical" approach was the American Vietnam veteran, Col. JJ McCuen, whose recommendations for the implementation of counter-revolutionary warfare tactics were used as the basis for a handbook titled The Art of Counter-Revolutionary Warfare, which was distributed amongst state officials. In essence, the tactics adopted were "hard" security measures against political opponents of the state, combined with WHAM ("Winning Hearts and Minds") tactics aimed at defusing political grievances and promoting right-wing ideologies among the general population. French theorist Andre Baufr's maxim that "wars are not won on the battlefield, but in the minds of men" was a guiding principle.
The manual contained the following framework for the implementation of WHAM tactics:
In order to ensure that "radical" movements cannot root themselves amongst the people, the following steps are to be taken:
3.1 Civil education:
3.1.1 Create "a good working relationship with the masses" by "identifying problems locally...and implementing corrective measures"
3.1.2 Implement an extensive programme to train "loyal leaders" and the youth for local administration
This, says the handbook, is the "main weapon against revolutionaries". Government must "take the lead under all groups, classes, clubs, and societies with the organisation of social, career, sport, education, medical, religious, and military activities." The population "must become involved and identify with the group's activities."
3.2.1 "Self-defence" - this is "the most important part of counter-organisation of the masses."
The recruitment of "local militia" must be undertaken with the help of local leaders. These militia must be armed and form "the bridge between the administration and the masses"; they should "therefore be politically oriented", ie. they should "influence/mobilise the masses."
3.2.2 Security forces must be "extremely mobile and able to support self-defence units immediately."
4.1 To manage this intelligence-gathering process, joint committees of "security forces and administrative and political institutions" must be established.
The theory of Low-Intensity Warfare (LIW) rests on much the same framework, but places far more stress on the use of proxy forces and propaganda. It is "low-intensity" warfare from the point of view of the regime engaged in a struggle against revolutionary or national liberation movements, in the sense that their direct involvement is minimised as far as possible. For those communities targeted in this manner, it is total war and terror at grassroots level.
The overall aim of LIW is the defeat of a national liberation movement, and this requires that a credible "moderate" alternative to such a movement be fostered or created. Examples of groups of this nature are provided by UNITA in Angola, and Renamo in Mozambique, which the Pretoria regime took over from the Rhodesian security forces at the end of the 1970s; attempts to build Inkatha into a political force to rival the ANC began in earnest in the 1980s. If it is not possible to build a credible alternative, then the emphasis in LIW strategy moves towards attempting to transform the liberation movement from within through massive destabilisation of its support base and a range of other measures aimed at so radically altering the political variables that the liberation movement becomes ineffectual, rather than by trying to defeat it in direct battle.
The aim was not just to restore law and order, at all costs, on the terms of the apartheid regime, but was considerably more sinister: it was about brainwashing and social engineering on all levels, an attempt to "recast the foundations of civil society so that political access points could at some future date be restructured in a way that (would) not threaten the system as a whole", and to this end the state attempted to "radically restructure the moral, cultural, religious, political and material underpinnings of civil society in the black townships."
220.127.116.11 Counter-mobilisation in action
Besides the case of Renamo, which was employed with devastating effect in the destabilisation campaign against the Mozambican government, the illegally occupied territory of Namibia served in important respects as a testing ground for certain counter-revolutionary tactics later applied in South Africa. By the mid-1970s, there was widespread, systematic and violent repression in place in this country, along with attempts to implement "hearts and minds" tactics. SADF members were deployed in schools, on agricultural projects, in training programmes, and a host of other civilian structures in the hope that assistance of this nature would defuse pro-SWAPO sentiment by addressing material grievances linked to poverty and lack of development. These tactics met with very little success, and were undermined by the systematic violence and terrorism visited against communities by easily identifiable members of the occupying force, such as (to give but one example) the practice of dragging the bodies of dead activists or members of SWAPO's armed wing through villages behind military vehicles.
By 1980, the Pretoria regime had set in place a range of paramilitary units, some of which would later be replicated or redeployed in South Africa with devastating effect. Units called the Home Guards were initially set up to protect bantustan leaders and tribal chiefs considered assets by Pretoria; they were generally despised for committing atrocities against their own people. The Special Constables were also widely feared, and were responsible for many murders of civilians. And the first reports on a covert SAP counter-insurgency unit known as Koevoet ("crowbar") surfaced in May 1980 along with a hit list of people to be assassinated by this unit. Koevoet had been established in 1978, and soon achieved notoriety for many murders and atrocities, particularly in the north of Namibia.
By around 1983 it was acknowledged that the relatively unsophisticated "hearts and minds" tactics adopted to date were not working, and that any suggestion of direct connections to the SADF were enough to guarantee the failure of projects of this nature. Far more elaborate, covert methods would have to be adopted to "counter-mobilise" the Namibian population against SWAPO.
To this end a unit code-named Etango was established, under the overall guidance of Dr. Louis Pasques. Etango included many of those SADF personnel, especially those linked to Military Intelligence Communications Operations units, and to the Directorate: Covert Collection, who would later surface in South Africa under the guise of "experts" working for Adult Education Consultants (AEC) and in fronts set up by the Directorate: Covert Collection. It appears that the primary aim of Etango was to establish a tribally based, conservative "Owambo movement" to counter SWAPO, while a similar project code-named Ezuva aimed to set up a "Kavango movement". During 1985 and 1986, operatives linked to Etango moved into South Africa and began setting up a range of front companies in order to pursue similar objectives inside South Africa against the ANC through the use of "black-on-black" violence of various kinds, the fostering of viable alternative "liberation movements", and spreading NP propaganda through a range of "Christian cultural" organisations particularly among the coloured community in the Western Cape.
A top secret memorandum dated 29/07/86, titled Extension of Counter-Mobilisation Strategy, sent from the Chief-of-Staff: Intelligence to the Head of the SADF, provides important information of relevance to the inquiries of the TRC. According to this memorandum, it was decided in 1985 to set up a front organisation to achieve the aims of Project Ancor, which had been approved by the Minister of Defence in the second half of 1985, and which included a wide range of covert projects. It has since emerged (in response to a question put to the Minister of Defence in Parliament) that the front organisation set up to carry out Project Ancor was the closed corporation Adult Education Consultants CC.
Project Kampong fell under Project Ancor, and was responsible for the "physical running of peoples' organisations and movements" - projects which attempted to manipulate civil society on a wide range of fronts. No fewer than 23 sub-projects in Namibia and South Africa were running in mid-1986, including Etango, Ezuva, the "Natal trade union" (a probable reference to the covertly-funded UWUSA), the Eagles Youth Club in the Free State, projects in KwaNdebele, Venda and QwaQwa, a project aimed at the "mobilisation of moderate Black leaders in South Africa", a project aimed at mobilising traditional healers, several projects aimed at influencing coloured people and MPs, a research project at the University of Stellenbosch, and two projects misusing religion in an attempt to cultivate support for the regime.
The head of AEC, Dr Louis Pasques, was (and perhaps still is) a member of the Broederbond. A former Assistant Director of education, he was seconded to the office of PW Botha in 1985, and served on the SSC. Pasques had also been Inspector of the compulsory "Youth Preparedness" brainwashing programme introduced in white schools in 1970. Dr. JL van der Westhuizen was the other most senior official heading AEC. By 1986 there were regional offices of AEC in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Louis Trichardt, Nelspruit, Pinetown, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and Cape Town. Each office was headed by a manager and divided into three sub-sections: administration, training, and projects. Most AEC affiliates had military training grounds at their disposal. Another network of fronts set up by Pasques fell under the South African Christian Cultural Organisation (Sacco.)
During 1986, work of this nature gathered momentum as the state battled to contain the growing popular revolt in the country. As the memorandum in question puts it, "counter-mobilisation" is a "critically important component of the counter-revolutionary strategy of the RSA"; and notes that the Minister of Defence had ordered that "counter-mobilisation activities inside South Africa must be drastically extended, and actions in SWA must also be intensified." Such actions are described as "very probably the core on which will depend the continued existence of a free Western civilisation in South Africa." (p 5). According to this memo, Etango and Ezuva had already grown into a "force to be reckoned with in SWA politics". "If an election is to be won in SWA, a drastic increase in counter-mobilisation activities would be required", says the memo (p. 2). Control of these fronts had by 1986 been transferred to the Administrator-General of Namibia, although the SADF still acted in an "executive capacity."
Whilst we have focused on certain operations, there were many other fronts and projects which were covertly set up and financed with public funds. Project Vallex, running by 1987/8, was also specifically aimed at "removing the UDF from communities by means of violence using the colour-against-colour principle"; there were Projects Pippa, Kalmoes, Lambent, Lactone, Lion Life and Resource Corporation, and Project Christian Life Centre, to name just a few others. Extensive as Project Ancor and its sub-project Kampong were, their 1987/8 budgets are listed as falling under Main Project Orange, about which no information has yet come to light; it is hoped the Commission will discover the full nature and extent of the activities carried out under the auspices of Main Project Orange, as well all other covert operations of this nature.
18.104.22.168 Vigilantism, surrogates, and the role of Adult Education Consultants
From mid- to late 1985 onwards, during the period in which Roelf Meyer chaired the NJMC, Adult Education Consultants (AEC) set up or reinforced a range of paramilitary anti-ANC/UDF/Cosatu groups across the country. In addition, they ran various seminars designed to promote right-wing "Christian" values, particularly targeted at the Western Cape. It appears that in some cases "seminars" amounted to little more than attempted brainwashing and incitement to violence against the UDF and other progressive organisations.
In early 1985, and in an extraordinarily high number of cases in October and November 1985, various "vigilante" and, to a lesser extent, pseudo-revolutionary groups suddenly appeared in townships all over the country, from Pietersburg in the north to Cape Town in the south. The "vigilantes" were responsible for massive bloodshed and misery as they launched their onslaught against pro-democracy groups. Often drawn from conservative traditional groupings, the ranks of the desperately unemployed and even criminal gangs (such as the Three Million, and later, the AmaSinyora, the Black Cats, the Toasters, to name a few), the vigilantes intervened in local politics when called upon or paid to do so. In all cases they violently attacked members of pro-democracy groups, acted in support of unpopular local or regional authorities which the apartheid regime saw as being essential to the success of its limited reform programme, and were allowed to operate brazenly by the SAP, who either refused to intervene or actively supported such groups. It appears the "vigilantes" were largely playing the role of "self-defence" units as envisaged in McCuen's blueprint. The Riot Squad (later renamed the Internal Stability Division) was particularly prominent in lending support to groups of this nature.
During the same period, in November 1985, Minister of Constitutional Development Chris Heunis announced that at least five thousand municipal police, also known as "kitskonstabels" (instant constables) would be trained over the next six months. Most were deployed to bolster unpopular community councillors - a re-run of the tactic used in Namibia in the early 1980s. A Black Sash report in 1988 on the municipal police noted that the "hidden agenda" of those deploying these officials was "revealed by the pattern of their abuses: they were intended to divide communities and disrupt organisations", rather than restore law and order. Their efforts complemented those of a range of other groups involved in "informal" or extra-legal repression.
In contrast with earlier footage showing white police shooting protestors armed with bricks and stones, which had so negatively influenced the attitudes of overseas television audiences, the state was no longer perceived to be in the forefront of the violence - now it was "black-on-black violence", a key propaganda term coined at this time and vigorously promoted.This was what was supposed to distinguish some of this violence from earlier clashes between the security forces and pro-democracy groups, (this violence was portrayed as the understandable backlash of conservative groups against the excesses of the youth or the "radical" policies of pro-democracy groups). In other cases, both antagonists were supposedly anti-apartheid movements,
A case study is provided by the AmaAfrika National Front or Project Henry, a group led by the self-styled "Reverend" Ebenezer Maqina, which adopted pseudo-radical "black consciousness" positions. This group was envisaged as forming the nucleus of "cultural front" organisations in the Eastern Cape, according to former AEC regional head Brig. Ben Conradie, who ran the project. Food parcels delivered by the Department of National Health and Population Development to the home of the regional AEC head were taken to Maqina for distribution among the needy. By March 1985, supporters of the AmaAfrika National Front, which was later linked to, and then expelled from, Azapo, were engaged in a bloody struggle with UDF supporters in townships in the Port Elizabeth area. Many civilians were killed; by June 1985 these areas were described as being like a war zone. The murders of Matthew Goniwe and his companions were ascribed to UDF/Azapo conflict by the propaganda machinery of the regime. Other vigilante Groups falling under the Eastern Cape branch of Adult Education Consultants were the Memesis and Kekanas, grouped around unpopular councillors.
In another key example from mid- 1986, the Witdoeke of the Western Cape destroyed KTC in co-operation with local JMC structures, with the Riot Squad playing a particularly important role in backing up the attackers. During the court case brought by residents in March 1988, Roelf Meyer issued a certificate in terms of the Internal Security Act blocking access to all JMC documents from May-June 1986 "in the interests of state security."
From late 1985 onwards, plans for what was later know as Operation Marion were being laid. A top secret memo titled Report of the Work Group on a Security Structure for KwaZulu was made public by the prosecution in the trial of former Minister of Defence Magnus Malan and others; the manner in which the concept of counter-mobilisation was understood and implemented by the former apartheid regime is bluntly expressed. On the second page of this report it is stated that from the point of view of the SADF, the strategic objective of these activities were as follows:
by means of Inkatha. (Our emphasis)
To establish Inkatha as a more effective organisation against the ANC/UDF and related organisations on political, social and psychological terrains. (Our emphasis.)
This memo noted that according to decisions taken at a SSC meeting on 03/02/86, the Department of Constitutional Development and Planning was tasked with "overall co-ordination of the project", which underlines that Project Marion was not aimed solely at developing an offensive military capacity within Inkatha. The SSC had also decided that the successful implementation of the "paramilitary element" of this project "would pave the way for similar projects in other National States" (ie. bantustans.) In fact, by mid-1986 plans to set up a covertly run, anti-ANC "Xhosa Resistance Movement" in the Eastern Cape were in place.
It is clear that this Work Group was following the recommendations of McCuen and other theorists closely. The minutes show that it was proposed that a "paramilitary capacity" be established, consisting of six main elements; the first three are the most important. Firstly, a "counter-mobilisation capacity" to "neutralise the UDF in particular". This would entail increasing Inkatha's communications and propaganda capacity, and its "ability to organise the population with the KwaZulu culture (sic) as basis for mobilisation" through organisations based in various civil arenas: the youth, students, workers, women, sport, and culture are specifically mentioned.
Secondly, this paramilitary capacity should have "a defensive element, ie. a militia-type organisation" which would have a well-trained core group supported by part-time recruits who would have less specialised training. Members of these militia would be expected to recruit and train other units with assistance from the Department of Military Intelligence.
Thirdly, there should be a "small, full-time offensive element which can be used covertly against the UDF/ANC"; fourthly, assistance in the training of a group of loyal Inkatha members for the physical protection of senior Inkatha officials. It was envisaged that the same "offensive unit" would be used for both covert hit squad work and the protection of Inkatha officials (p.7). Other measures included the improvement of Inkatha's intelligence capacity and extending the powers of the KZP.
It was proposed that the Directorate: Special Tasks be tasked with managing the paramilitary aspect of this project since this sector of the SADF " has the most experience in handling similar tasks (externally)" (p.6). The Directorate: Special Tasks was that sector of Military Intelligence responsible for the Special Forces ("Recces") and the covert support of "contra" groups in neighbouring states, particularly UNITA and Renamo: support for Renamo was code-named Operation Milia, with 5 Reconnaissance Regiment in Phalaborwa the main source of training and support for this proxy force.
The Task Group proposed that a front organisation be established by Chief-of-Staff: Intelligence to take on these responsibilities. The counter-mobilisation work would be done "by DMI in co-operation with Ultra Ed (Dr Pasque)", says the memo (p 8.) Subsequent information made public by disaffected Inkatha official Mbongeni Khumalo has indicated that AEC's regional office in Natal known as Creed Consultants were responsible for arranging the paramilitary aspects of this training as well as counter-mobilisation work in various sectors of of civil society in the region.
Operation Katzen: A "Xhosa Resistance Movement"
In mid-1986, in response to orders from PW Botha to stabilise this region, plans were drawn up for the formation of a unified Eastern Cape region as an eventually "independent" anti-ANC "Xhosaland". This hare-brained scheme envisaged establishing a Xhosa Resistance Movement which would "operate under the cover of a front organisation."
In a memo outlining the plan dated 13/06/86 from Brig. CP ("Joffel") Van der Westhuizen (head of the Eastern Cape JMC at the time) to the Chief of the Army, it is stated (p.9):
The memo states in point 19(d) "Covert, Xhosa-speaking forces (troops) must be assigned to the XWB so that the movement, especially in the beginning, can have teeth" (p 19.) By November 1986 the plan was being activated, and in February 1987 an attempt to "permanently remove" Lennox Sebe took place.
22.214.171.124 "Hit Squads" extra-legal terror and assassination
The successful implementation of WHAM tactics, according to the theories guiding the Pretoria regime, depended on "eliminating the enemy" and restoring effective administration. Units linked to the CCB and Vlakplaas tasked with "taking out" activists began operations in earnest during this period. Some information on a hit squad known as "Hammer", operating in the Eastern Cape by the mid-1980s, has come to light. By June 1985, the United Democratic Front listed at least 27 people as missing and 12 victims of assassinations. These acts of terror were aimed precisely at those areas where resistance was strongest; anti-apartheid activists were forced to flee or go into hiding. The role of the NSMS in co-ordinating actions of this nature was revealed in the "death signal" dated 07/06/85 sent to the SSC from the head of the Eastern Cape JMC, "Joffel" van der Westhuizen, recommending the murders of the "Cradock Four" - Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlawuli.
In October 1985, senior officials met Chief Buthelezi and falsely claimed that there were plans to eliminate him. By early 1986 the plans for Operation Marion were in place, and the first group of trainees to be given training in offensive, "hit squad" tactics were secretly sent to the Caprivi strip later that year, with the regional AEC affiliate, Creed Consultants, in charge of co-ordinating this training.
The Human Rights Commission recorded around 100 assassinations and 200 attempted assassinations of anti-apartheid figures inside and outside the country between 1974 and 1989. Assassinations became a regular feature of South African political life, escalating sharply in the negotiations phase, before ending abruptly in 1993.
Assassinations were also a form of "armed propaganda". The state had all the means at its disposal to detain, restrict or imprison those who opposed it, yet adopted deliberate terrorist tactics in choosing to assassinate certain activists. The message was clear: those who were deploying these units would stop at nothing to crush dissent, and the degree of collusion in covering the activities of such units by the highest reaches of political, judicial and security structures, as well as the magnitude of the lies broadcast by the propaganda machinery at the disposal of the state, served to project the desired image of an enemy so efficient, amoral and ruthless that it was virtually suicidal to oppose it.
The KwaMakutha Massacre
It is our contention that the KwaMakutha massacre of January 20th, 1987, provides one of the clearest examples of the manner in which all these earlier initiatives of the apartheid state were drawn together via the NSMS to co-ordinate action on the ground in accordance with its strategic interests, and the callous manner in which civilians were slaughtered to achieve such political objectives.
Twelve women and children were killed in this attack by men who had been secretly trained on the Caprivi Strip in line with Operation Marion. The attack was portrayed as the work of "ANC terrorists" by Pretoria's propaganda machinery in an attempt to derail a crucial meeting between OR Tambo and George Schultz; this meeting was a major breakthrough for the ANC in its continuing efforts to convince the international community to refuse all support for the apartheid regime.
It is not reasonable to believe that the actual perpetrators of this massacre, or even higher command structures within the security forces, could have independently devised a strategic communications operation of this nature. This case provides a vital indicator of how easily the truth could be obscured unless the overall context in which violence took place is kept in firm focus: to only identify the specific agents of the KwaMakutha massacre and other similar atrocities will do nothing to expose the true perpetrators of violence of this nature, who co-ordinated political and military actions in support of the apartheid state through the NSMS, renamed the National Co-ordinating Mechanism under FW de Klerk in 1990.
126.96.36.199 Chemical War: use of poisoning
The apartheid regime did not shrink from the use of poison in its attempts to murder its opponents inside the country and abroad; over the years several anti-apartheid activists have died from poisoning, while others had narrow escapes from this fate. In addition, there is evidence that the former apartheid regime used chemical weapons in attacks in neighbouring states.
Poisoning was a method adopted by the Rhodesian security forces, particularly the Selous Scouts. In his book Serving Secretly Ken Flower described how Selous Scouts members would pose as ZANU guerillas, recruit activists and kit them out with uniforms impregnated with poison similar to that used on anti-apartheid activists some years later. These recruits would then be sent to training camps but would die a slow death in the bush before reaching their destinations. In other cases a river and water reservoir were poisoned, causing hundreds of deaths.
These methods were adopted by the Pretoria regime. In an incident in 1977 popularly known as "Black September", SAP agents who had infiltrated MK attempted to wipe out some 500 MK cadres undergoing training at Catengue camp in Angola by poisoning their food.
In 1981, student activist Siphiwo Mthimkulu fell seriously ill shortly after his release from five months of detention. He had been well-fed while in detention. Doctors at Groote Schuur hospital discovered he had been poisoned with a rare substance known as thallium, which left him seriously ill and confined to a wheelchair. Mthimkulu sued the Minister of Law and Order, but shortly afterwards disappeared, along with his companion, Topsy Madaka; their car was found near the Lesotho border. Dirk Coetzee has said that he was ordered to kill Mthimkulu; although the order was withdrawn, Coetzee says he was later told by SAP officers that the activist had been abducted and eliminated.
Coetzee has also stated that he was given poison on more than one occasion by former SAP forensics chief Lothar Neethling; in one instance this was to get rid of an MK cadre, Selby Mavusu ("Vusi") who had been among those captured during the 1981 raid on Matola, and who would not co-operate with his captors. Neethling sued two newspapers which published these allegations; in January 1991 Supreme Court judge Johan Kriegler dismissed his damages claims against these newspapers, and found he had attempted to mislead the court. Lothar Neethling appealed against this judgement and won his case.
In the same year, the Committee of South African War Resisters (COSAWR) reported that information had been received from a disaffected SADF soldier on the use of drugs (particularly scopolamine and morphine) to torture and gain information from detainees at a base in Oshakati, in northern Namibia. It was further alleged that the SA Medical Services had set up medical intelligence units under the guidance of Argentinean personnel who regularly visited the base. It was also reported that the SADF was preparing to use nerve gas or chemical weapons in the region in the near future. In another case involving Namibian activists, Irish national Donald Acheson, suspected of being involved in the murder of Anton Lubowski, testified that he had been told by the CCB to contaminate personal toiletries belonging to Gwen Lister, editor of the anti-apartheid newspaper The Namibian , with a slow-acting poison.
Luke Lukwezi, recruited by the SAP in 1985, was sent to infiltrate the ANC and commit acts of sabotage, pass on information, and poison cadres. He had been given a box of poison by his handlers, and in September 1986 poured most of this powder into soft porridge being prepared for cadres at Cherlston transit camp in Lusaka; about forty people had to be rushed to hospital. Another SAP agent, Fika Gwala, was responsible for poisoning four people, including Richard Khambule in Dakawa, Tanzania; he was arrested by the ANC in 1987.
In 1987, Leslie Lesia was arrested in Zimbabwe after he had been caught in Mozambique by the ANC; he had a small bottle of poison in his possession. He testified in court that he had been given poison by the SADF's Department of Military Intelligence to use on ANC members and officials. A booby-trapped TV set he had imported into Zimbabwe blew up, killing the wife of an ANC official. In 1988, there was an attempt to distribute poisoned sugar among ANC officials in Mozambique.
The current Minister of Justice, Dullah Omar, nearly fell victim to poisoning: Edward James Gordon, known as "Peaches", testified to the Harms Commission that his CCB handlers had given him a powder with instructions to sprinkle this over Omar's food to induce a heart attack. "Peaches" was subsequently assassinated.
Church officials were not exempt from such attacks - after an abortive attempt to poison Fr. John Osmers, he was maimed with a parcel bomb. In 1989, the Rev. Frank Chikane narrowly escaped death when he became violently and acutely ill on three occasions while on trips to Namibia and the USA. It was discovered that some of his clothing was impregnated with a poison of the organophosphate group - very similar to that used by the Selous Scouts. In the same year, ANC security department official Jackie Mabusa and a companion both died after drinking poisoned beer in a Lusaka nightclub.
Other ANC members who died of poisoning include Mandla Msibi, who died in 1982 in Swaziland, Samuel Phinda who died in Mozambique, and Themba Ngesi who died of poisoning in Mozambique in September 1986.
Thami Zulu died within a few days of his release from detention by the ANC's security department. He had been held whilst an investigation was conducted to determine why such an extremely high number of cadres in units falling under his command were being captured or killed. A post-mortem showed that Thami Zulu had ingested Diazinon, an organophosphate pesticide, shortly before his death. Whilst there is no certainty as to whether Thami Zulu was acting on behalf of Pretoria, in two similar cases the suspicion exists that agents of the apartheid regime, probably linked to the Department of Military Intelligence, poisoned Francis Meli in 1992 and former ANC Chief Representative in London, Solly Smith, in 1993. Smith had confessed to being linked to apartheid intelligence services, and it is suspected he was murdered because he had indicated that he was prepared to talk about his activities.
The use of "asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases" is outlawed by the 1925 Geneva Protocol, to which South Africa has been a signatory; and international law prohibits the use of napalm against civilians. In 1968 it was announced that the manufacture of napalm had begun, and this was used extensively in Namibia and Angola. There have also been reports on the use of demobilising gases in Namibia, and an investigation by the UNHCR and the World Health Organisation into the 1978 Kassinga Massacre in Namibia noted that a paralysing gas had been used to immobilise some of the victims before they were murdered.
There is evidence that Renamo was being supplied with poison gases. In 1983, when the Mozambican army captured a Renamo base at Tome, 40mm shells containing a toxic substance were found. As recently as January 16th, 1992, there was a chemical attack on Mozambican government troops which left at least 80 troops dead. Four commando companies were attacking Ngungwe, near Ressano Garcia, at the time one of the largest Renamo strongholds in Southern Mozambique. It is believed that Renamo was seeking to preserve an elite group of around two thousand troops who would remain outside a unified Mozambican defence force. In July of that year a report by British expert Dr JP Thompson produced a report commissioned by the United Nations, which found that the effects of the agent used were entirely consistent with a chemical warfare agent.
It has very recently been discovered that Project B, a top-secret, multi-million rand project run by the former SADF, included chemical and biological weapons projects; these were still being run with public funds as late as 1993. It has been alleged by people close to these programmes that these projects were not only defensive, but were part of the ongoing "dirty tricks" campaign to murder anti-apartheid activists; that research on organophosphates and cancer-inducing agents was carried out, and even President Mandela was considered a target.
It is hoped that the current investigations by the Office for Serious Economic Offences, along with evidence presented to or gathered by the Commission, will shed light on these and other cases of poisoning and chemical warfare, outlawed in international law.
4.8 Apartheid and the destabilisation of Southern African countries in the 1980s
What the apartheid government called "Total Strategy" at home had its counterpart of "destabilisation" in neighbouring countries. In 1989 a Commonwealth report described this as having reached "holocaust" proportions. The report added that at that time the human cost was 1,500,000 dead through military and economic action, most of them children, while a further four million had been displaced from their homes. The economic cost to the six Frontline States was estimated to exceed 45 billion US dollars, not to mention the destruction of agriculture, industry, education and health care in countries like Mozambique and Angola.
Amongst the external destabilisation methods used by the apartheid state were the following:
Armed action, ranging from sporadic commando raids into several neighbouring countries, to full-scale invasion as occurred in Angola
Hit squad raids to abduct or assassinate political opponents, usually people connected to the ANC
The promotion, backing or even creation of surrogate anti-government forces through logistical support, intelligence and training as in Mozambique and Angola
Political pressures to promote the instalment of governments well disposed towards apartheid South Africa
Economic pressures to create and maintain dependency on South African transport, harbour, custom and financial systems.
The reverberations of this past are still being felt today, as in the recurrent conflicts in Angola and the results of poverty caused by shattered economic infrastructures in neighbouring states.
The conflict in Mozambique, was portrayed as a "civil war" between the Frelimo government and an indigenous "anti-communist resistance movement" by the apartheid regime. In fact, the conflict was a low intensity covert war waged by Pretoria through a surrogate force, which served as a pilot project for similar operations against other neighbouring states. The experience of utilising surrogate forces in neighbouring countries influenced and informed similar tactics in South Africa such as Operation Marion. The domestic equivalent of calling covert aggression against neighbouring states "civil war" was to describe vigilante assaults on anti-apartheid activists as "black-on-black violence".
In both cases the role of the apartheid state was concealed; the deployment of force was cheap both in terms of security force casualties and resources; and the level of violence and brutality could be raised at a lower diplomatic and political cost than would have been the case if the regular armed forces of the state had been directly involved.
The Commission for Truth and Reconciliation is the first official inquiry into human rights abuses whose mandate covers events that occurred inside as well as outside the borders of South Africa. It is, therefore, imperative that the research and investigation arms of the TRC document in detail the full extent of South African destabilisation of the sub-continent during the apartheid years.
In addition, the ANC requests that:
all murders of ANC cadres and leaders in neighbouring countries are listed;
that those who authorised and carried out these killings are identified;
that official documents referring to these operations of the apartheid state are made available.
Case study: Mozambique - questions requiring clarification:
We know that the former government supported Renamo's campaign in Mozambique. Former Foreign Minister, Pik Botha, admitted in parliament on April 24 1985 (see Hansard column 4214) that such support was provided at least until the signing of the Nkomati Accord.
Information that emerged over the years suggested that this support was co-ordinated by the Department of Special Tasks 2 (DST 2) of the Chief-of-Staff-Intelligence of the SADF, through an operation codenamed "Mila". DST 2 was said to have operated out of the Zanza building in Proes Street, Pretoria and to have been commanded by Colonel Cornelius Johannes van Niekerk. Van Niekerk reported to Colonel Cornelius Jacobus van Tonder. Both men are among the accused in the current trial of Magnus Malan and others. Roland Hunter was jailed for exposing SADF support for Renamo, including the payment of salaries to Renamo members, the supply of weapons and the issuing of operational orders. Given this close involvement, and the many horrific atrocities committed against civilians by Renamo during the war in Mozambique, we need to know: who authorised this support and when; what, if any, were the orders given in relation to the conduct expected from those who took part in the operations
The Gorongosa documents captured at Renamo headquarters in August 1985, the authenticity has never been denied, indicated that the SADF continued to supply weapons and provide support to Renamo even after the signing of the Nkomati Accord.
Among those specifically named in the Gorongosa documents as being involved in these activities after the signing of the Accord, in which the South African government committed itself to refraining from such activities, were Generals Constand Viljoen, Jannie Geldenhuys, P.J. van der Westhuizen, Kat Liebenberg, Colonels van Tonder, van Niekerk and Greyling, and a Major Phillips (who worked with Renamo in Malawi.) Who authorised this continued support for Renamo in violation of the Nkomati Accord? And since the Gorongosa documents belie claims that this support ended in March 1984, when, in fact, did such support for Renamo end?
There have been numerous eyewitness accounts of airdrops, sea-borne landings of arms and equipment, and the use of specialist saboteur teams to support Renamo operations, notably during a push in mid-1987 which resulted in the massacres of many hundreds of civilians at Homoine and Manjacaze in particularly brutal incidents. It is important to establish what role, if any, the SADF played in supporting these particular actions, and on whose orders they acted.
The Matola raid in January 1981 was the first of a series of attacks on residences dubbed "ANC bases". This raid and others (in Mozambique and elsewhere) were characterised by a "shoot first, and cover up afterwards" approach, in which the aim appears to have been to kill everyone in the vicinity regardless of who they may have been. Since this modus operandi also applied to numerous operations inside South Africa, it is important to know what operational orders were given in these raids, by whom, and what rules of engagement, if any, applied.
It appears that raiders became indifferent as to whether they actually struck an ANC residence or a neighbour's house, possibly to deliberately heighten tensions between the ANC and the host community. An example of innocent bystanders caught in such raids was the case of the Pateguane family: the parents were murdered in Maputo in 1988 in front of their children (who are now being cared for by Luis Bernado Honwana, the UNESCO representative in Johannesburg) when an SADF commando unit apparently went to the wrong flat. Who was responsible for the murder of the Pateguanes? What operational orders with regard to the avoidance of civilian casualties were in force?
The apartheid state embarked on a concerted drive to murder as many ANC-linked personnel as possible in neighbouring countries as well as in South Africa. We call on the Commission to establish who gave the orders for this assassination campaign, the circumstances of each individual case, how targets were selected, and who was in operational command of such attacks.
The cause of the plane crash in which President Samora Machel and members of his entourage were killed in October 1986 has still not been determined to everyone's satisfaction. Allegations were made at the time that the plane had been diverted off course by a "false beam" device in South Africa. This matter was not resolved by the tri-partite official inquiry. The Mozambican government demanded that the investigating team continue its investigation to establish the source of the signal to which the plane responded, diverting it from its course, but this was refused by the South African authorities at the time. It is in the interests of the people of South Africa and Mozambique that the facts of this incident are established.
We have selected Mozambique as a case study but the same pattern of destabilisation, though taking different forms and in various degrees of intensity, occurred in other neighbouring states: Swaziland, Lesotho, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.
What role was played in these campaigns by other government departments not directly tasked with armed actions?
In an SABC television interview former Minister of Foreign Affairs Pik Botha responded to questions about a raid in Swaziland in December 1986, in which a 13-year-old Swazi child was killed, as follows:
Question: Did you know beforehand that the raid would take place?
Question: And you approved it?
Botha: Yes, I accept full responsibility together with my colleagues.
Question: Do you now regret that it happened?
Botha: I do not regret it. If the decision were to be made again, I would make the same decision, together with my colleagues
The above questions clearly only deal with a fragment of the overall history of the apartheid regime's external destabilisation strategy. These are the kinds of questions we hope the TRC will ask, and answer, about the full range of cross-border destabilisation activities conducted between the early 1960s and 1993.
4.9 Covert action and state sanctioned gross violations of human rights in the negotiations era of the 1990s
State terrorism and covert operations did not end with the historic unbanning of the ANC and other organisations in 1990. Nor did they end once the formal commencement of negotiations for a new constitution had begun. While the ANC formally suspended armed actions in July 1990, the state covertly pursued a campaign of violence of unprecedented proportions which exploded on the Reef in August 1990. All the hallmarks of "total strategy", were in eveidence combined with deliberate destabilisation, or Low-Intensity Warfare tactics, including intense propaganda campaigns - the same set of ideas or principles to be employed in efforts to defeat left-wing insurgents and national liberation movements in various parts of the world, and which the regime itself had used particularly in Mozambique. The violence against civilians in the post-1990 phase - during the so-called "peaceful transition" to democracy - was infinitely worse than anything experienced during the height of repression in the Emergency years of the mid-1980s.
A top secret document concerning plans to change the accounting procedures governing "sensitive defence activities" funded through the Special Defence Account, dated 13/03/90, was sent in March 1990 by the Chief of the Defence Force, General Jannie Geldenhuys, to the Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan; the document was co-signed by the Minister of Finance Barend du Plessis. It is stated in this memo that FW de Klerk was "briefed on a broad spectrum of sensitive projects" and had given his approval "in principle" on "the running of stratkom projects"; he had proposed establishing a central controlling body for such operations. This document also states that "covert stratkom projects are controlled and managed by the Secretary of the SSC. This includes the separation and allocation of areas to Departments. The Secretary of the SSC receives decisions and orders in this regard from the State President and passes them on to the departments concerned." Project Marion was one of over forty covert projects being funded at this time from the Special Defence Account.
According to the Department of Defence, Project Kampong was managed by Military Intelligence until 01/04/1991, when it was taken over by the SA Army. These specific projects were only terminated at the end of October 1992; in the 1991/2 book year alone, over R21,5-million was covertly spent on these projects, aimed at countering the ANC. By this time it is believed that AEC had spent over R150-million and that various regional fronts would continue to be funded at an additional cost of R20-million until 1994. There is little doubt that other covert operations besides these also continued .
The violence was a calculated campaign with the objective of creating conditions which would assist the regime in weakening the hand of the liberation movement at the negotiations table, thereby manipulating the constitutional negotiations process to its advantage on various levels - in other words, an attempt to "manage" the transition to the advantage of the state. This so-called "senseless" violence against black civilians, often with no obvious political connections at all, exhibited certain operational features previously unknown in the country (particularly Renamo style violence on trains, drive-by shootings and massed attacks on township residents from hostels which had been deliberately converted into informal military barracks). This terror campaign against black civilians was ascribed to "political intolerance", in much the same way that covertly directed violence was deliberately portrayed as "black-on-black" violence in the 1980s.
Operations included a variety of actions aimed at influencing the perceptions of the ANC leadership, keeping the leadership under maximum pressure by extending ANC resources to breaking point, preventing mass action, and creating covers for assassinations. Other operations had the objective of dividing, weakening and destroying the organisational capacity and the image of the ANC and its Alliance partners on all possible levels through the destabilisation of their support base, propaganda portraying the ANC as being the main instigator of violence, the assassination of key leaders, and so on.
Former SAP operative Paul Erasmus has stated that his unit was told during their 1990 stratkom training that a key objective was to reduce the ANC to "just another political party" by 1994. Apart from a range of other actions designed to achieve this objective, using violence to project Inkatha as formidable political player, on a par with the ANC,was a critically important aspect of this campaign. Inkatha supporters were cynically used as the cutting edge of the NP's constitutional agenda, which was aimed not only at destabilising and weakening the ANC, but also at maintaining control of the negotiations process and producing a settlement that would have a semblance of change, but would leave the essence of the apartheid system intact.
These campaigns resulted in unprecedented bloodshed and misery, far worse than anything experienced at the height of state-sponsored violence in the Emergency years. As the ANC pointed out after the Boipatong Massacre, in the few short years in which De Klerk had been in power, more civilians had been murdered than in all the previous decades of apartheid rule.
Between July 1990 and the end of 1993, over 12,000 civilians were killed and at least 20,000 were injured in thousands of incidents, including scores of major massacres. Many were women and children - for example, between July 1992 and June 1993, 253 women and 58 children were killed, and 315 women and 211 children were injured; in the case of the Boipatong massacre, no fewer than 25 of the 46 dead were women and children, described by the Human Rights Commission in 1993 as "a clear example of deliberate intent." The Human Rights Commission also recorded the accelerating pace of assassinations of anti-apartheid figures: 28 in 1990, to 60 in 1991, and 97 in 1992.
To date there have been partial yet telling revelations of the nature and extent of covert operations in the post 1990-phase. To give just a few key examples drawn from many cases, there was the "Inkathagate" expose in 1991, which brought to light the ongoing covert funding of Inkatha by the De Klerk regime, with one of the key objectives being to prevent the Inkatha leadership "throwing in their lot" with the ANC.
In 1991, disaffected Military Intelligence communications expert Nico Basson alleged he had been part of a wide-ranging covert operation aimed at preventing SWAPO achieving the two-thirds majority necessary to draft the Namibian constitution alone; in addition, Basson claimed, Operation Agree included components designed to covertly manipulate the outcomes of the transitions to democracy in Angola and South Africa. Subsequent events appear to support these allegations, which should be the subject of intensive investigation by the Commission.
The Orde Boerevolk provides another key example. After their escape to the UK, "hunger strikers" Henry Martin and Adriaan Maritz revealed that far from being radical white right-wingers, they were in fact working as agents of the Department of Military Intelligence with the specific brief of destabilising black communities in general and the ANC in particular: they had been responsible for the murder of Nick Cruise, an ANC-aligned computer technician, and the explosion of a bomb at a taxi rank in which many civilians had been injured. It is a matter of public record that one of the guns stolen by Orde Boerevolk leader "Pit Skiet" Rudolph in 1990 was used to murder Chris Hani. There have been press reports indicating that there are grounds for suspicion that Janus Waluz, convicted of this murder, was in some way linked to this network.
We call on the Commission to reopen investigations into the murder of Chris Hani, in the light of information which was not available at the time of the assassination, and which could come to light in the course of the hearings of the Commission or through applications for amnesty.
Agents posing as right-wingers connected to the Orde Boerevolk continued operations until the 1994 elections, the strategy being to absolve their handlers from certain heinous actions during a period in which the regime had committed itself to negotiations, and to exaggerate perceptions of the threat from the white and black extreme right in order to extract constitutional concessions from the ANC.
The November 1992 raid by the Goldstone Commission on Pan Afrik Industrial Investment Consultants (PAIIC), a front run by the Directorate: Covert Collection, succeeded in providing partial glimpses of other operations, such as those aimed at subverting Self-Defence Units, possibly falling under a more extensive operation code-named Project Echoes. Several senior DMI officers were suspended in the wake of this raid, and subsequent court action by one of them, Jan Anton Nieuwoudt, indicated that the Directorate: Covert Collection, and PAIIC, may have been involved in a range of covert actions considered crucial to the strategy of the De Klerk regime during the negotiations phase. It may also have taken over many functions of the CCB, including operations beyond the borders of South Africa. We call on the Commission to ensure that the nature and full extent of operations conducted behind the cover of this front are brought to light.
The final Goldstone Commission report referred to a "horrible network of criminal activity" involving SAP officials and elements within Inkatha and the KZP, and led to the suspension of top SAP officials. The trial of Eugene de Kock is beginning to shed more light on operations of this nature, which included the deliberate flooding of the country with arms, a grossly irresponsible tactic which has had a severe impact on the crime and security situation in the country to this day.
The ANC feels it is not reasonable to believe that extensive operations of this nature - which were all in line with the overall strategic objectives of the De Klerk administration - could take place without the knowledge of key officials at the highest level of the security and intelligence services, as well as the civilian administration, including those officials tasked with steering the negotiations process.
4.9.1 The vehicle: The National Co-ordinating Mechanism (NCM)
In 1990 the name of the NSMS was changed to the National Co-ordinating Mechanism (NCM). There have been attempts to propagate the idea that De Klerk abolished the NSMS; that it was stripped of its security and intelligence components, and became no more than an essential and benign co-ordinating structure. This is untrue, as even a cursory reading of the official Handleiding: Nasionale Koordineringsmeganisme (Manual: National Co-ordinating Mechanism) shows. In essence, the NCM remained the old NSMS. The security committees (veikoms) chaired by SAP or SADF officers from local to national level remained in place: as the official manual notes, "the principle of the application of the full powers of the state in order to resist the revolutionary onslaught is still valid" (p. 22). The NCM remained the vehicle for co-ordinating state action on political and other fronts, and structures tasked with strategic communications work remained in place at the highest levels of the NCM.
One of the most important structures within the "new" NCM was the Security Secretariat. According to the official Handbook, this structure replaced the former Secretariat of the State Security Council, and was "structurally integrated into the NIS". It had three branches: Administrative Support, Strategy, and Strategic Communication. Among the functions listed for this Secretariat is "the co-ordination of strategic communication", and "strategic documentation: remark: the functional responsibility for the strategic and stratkom functions remain with the line functionaries." The Security Secretariat was represented on both the Joint Security Staff and the Security Committee, on which more detail appears below; and it also liaised with the State Security Council and the Cabinet Committee for Security Affairs.
A new structure called the Security Committee (national level) was established to replace the National Joint Management Centre (NJMC) and other committees, and was responsible for the "co-ordination of all security matters at national level, as well as reporting to the State Security Council (SSC) and the Cabinet Committee for Security Affairs." In 1990 the Security Committee had nine members: Neil Barnard (Director-General of NIS) as chair, an unspecified representative of the SADF (probably the Chief of the SADF), the Commissioner of Police, the Directors-General of the Departments of Constitutional Development, Justice, Foreign Affairs, the Director-General of the Office of the State President, a secretary from the National Intelligence Service (NIS), and the chief of the Security Secretariat.
One of the task groups retained from the NSMS was the Joint Security Staff (JSS), described as the "operational executive co-ordinator of the Security community". The JSS was responsible for "the co-ordination of the planning, execution and monitoring of all joint security actions on national level, and ensuring that this takes place on regional and local levels"; among other duties with which the JSS was tasked was "the handling of Administration Total War (the State War Book.)" According to the NCM Handbook, this key structure was responsible only to the Security Committee, and also liaised with the Security Secretariat, other "interdepartmental security task groups", and with the Joint and Local Co-ordinating Centres (the re-named Sub, and Mini-JMC's) lower down the NCM hierarchy. In 1990 the JSS was chaired alternatively by the chief of the SAP Operations branch and the SADF's Chief-of-Staff: Operations, and by April 1992 the Chief of the highly controversial, semi-autonomous Internal Stability Division (the re-named Riot Squad) took over as chair.
The official NCM handbook gives considerable detail for the procedure governing these "full meetings", which highlights the leading role played by the Security Secretariat, which was "structurally integrated into the NIS":
By the end of April 1992, as the government and the ANC were gearing up for the next round of negotiations in Codesa II, the so-called Third Force had spread a trail of blood and terror through many Reef townships. On April 23rd, 1992, a milestone judgement was delivered in the Trust Feeds massacre trial: SAP Captain Brian Mitchell, who had been the head of the local JMC at the time of the 1988 massacre of eleven people, was convicted of murder along with four "kitskonstabels." On the same day, De Klerk stated in Parliament that the NIS, SAP and SADF had "terminated all special secret projects and were confining themselves only to the line function tasks entrusted to them by law"; he added that control was exercised over all secret projects by a Cabinet Committee, chaired by Barend Du Plessis, which "exercises control over the content of every special secret project, and overall control over covert expenditure in general." Barend du Plessis resigned two days later as Minister of Finance, Transvaal leader of the NP, and as MP for Florida.
In the wake of former SAP official Paul Erasmus's later revelations regarding the running of covert stratkom projects during the negotiations phase, the NP has admitted that Gerrit Viljoen and Kobie Coetsee were also members of this committee. This Committee cannot escape responsibility for their role in (at least) giving policy guidelines for special stratkom projects - their "control over the content" of such projects, to use De Klerk's words.
In what was titled a Study Brief, dated 23rd April 1992, which was sent to Military Intelligence structures (and presumably to other arms of the security and intelligence services), recipients were informed that the Cabinet had decided (as of November 1991) to transfer responsibility for the management and administration of the National Co-ordinating Mechanism from the Cabinet Secretariat (formerly called the Welfare Secretariat) to the Department of Regional and Land Affairs, to which the Deputy Minister of Law and Order, Johan Scheepers, had been shifted. The provincial administrations, under the guidance of a structure called the NCM Secretariat which had been created by this time, were to take over the running of the 10 Joint Co-ordinating Centres. There were changes in other key structures, particularly the Joint Security Staff. The chair had been the SAP head of the Operational Branch, and was now replaced by Lt-General Johan Swart, the Chief of the Internal Stability Division (the Riot Squad was renamed the ISD at this time, in April 1992). Other permanent members of this key Task Group were the Chief of the Army (who acted as Deputy Chair), two representatives of the SAP's Unrest Control and Prevention unit, a representative from the CIS (the re-named Security Branch), and other officials, including a representative of the "Chief Directorate Welfare Administration (NCM Secretariat.)"
What this information highlights is the need to examine closely the complex manner in which the former De Klerk administration attempted to manage change, and the role played by a range of state structures, not only the security forces.
Certain elements within the National Party government realised that their destabilisation campaign was becoming counter-productive, or feared that the real risk of the truth being exposed would carry unacceptably high political costs. However, powerful elements within senior government structures believed it should continue. What one observer described as "the mother of all covert operations" continued until South Africa's first democratic government, elected in April 1994, began to assert its authority. Despite this, the "total onslaught" dirty tricks campaigns launched by the apartheid state during the 1980s and 1990s continue to impact directly on the day-to-day situation in South Africa, particularly in the province of KwaZulu/Natal.
To cite just two further examples of this nature, Dr Johan van der Westhuizen, who set up Adult Education Consultants with Louis Pasques, re-emerged in January 1994 as one of the founders of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP). Louis Pasques himself received lucrative contracts from the De Klerk government's Nutritional Development Programme, and by 1992 he had set up new consultancies, one of which purported to offer communication skills and training in "nation building" to governments in neighbouring states.
These concerns are more than a matter of passing interest but have direct relevance to the security of the democratic order today. Many of the operatives in such covert structures as AEC, the CCB, Vlakplaas and others were not only given golden handshakes, but "disappeared" with the infrastructure responsible for the violence in the post-1990 period.
The Goldstone Commission was told that AEC's Creed Consultants was "privatising" its operations. It is strongly suspected that some of them are still in operation in KwaZulu/Natal; others are part of the criminal network; yet others are involved in taxi violence. Part of this network, which included journalists and "agents of influence" in a range of organisations and institutions, is most certainly still in operation; some of them continue to serve the interests of their previous masters, and it cannot be ruled out that others may be activated at some time in the future.
There are a few key political officials, operatives and commanders who know exactly how these networks functioned, and who can provide information on how extensive it was, on what has happened to it; and what capacity it still has for destabilisation. We urge the Commission to invite these individuals to give evidence on this grave matter. But above all, FW de Klerk has the responsibility to inform the nation about the activities of the covert repressive machinery that he headed when he took over from PW Botha.
The process of reconciliation requires answers about the activities not only of the State Security Council, but also all key structures falling immediately under it in the NSMS and NCM hierarchies.
We call on the Truth Commission to examine the minutes and other relevant records of all these structures from the time of their inception.
In the pre-1990 phase, key structures included the Working Group of the SSC, the Secretariat of the SSC with its Strategic Communications and other sub-committees, the Inter-Departmental Committees, the sectors in every government department tasked with stratkom work, the National Joint Management Centre, and the Joint Management Centres.
In the post-1990 NCM, key structures resorting under the SSC included the Cabinet Committee for Security Affairs, the Security Committee (national level), the Security Secretariat (and each of its sub-committees tasked with Strategy, Administration and Strategic Communications), the Joint Security Staff, and all sectors within the security and intelligence services, as well as civilian government departments, which were specifically tasked with covert operations and stratkom work.
We call on the Commission to determine who was responsible for developing guidelines which were implemented by these structures, and all other units tasked with operations geared towards manipulating the negotiations process in the favour of the NP. The Constitutional Development Service formed an important node of power in this regard, and was headed by former senior NIS officials. What role was played by the pre-eminent secret NP think-tank on strategic issues, the Afrikaner Broederbond?