About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

State Security Council (SSC)

In 1972 the SSC was established as a permanent cabinet committee but until the 1980s when levels of anti-apartheid activity reached huge proportions, its function was merely an advisory one on intelligence matters. Under P.W. Botha, who came to power in 1978, the SSC gradually became a major policy making body, in the idiom of a national security management system. Convening directly before each meeting of the cabinet, it often took decisions which were then simply rubber-stamped by cabinet. The operational arm of the SSC was the secret National Security Management System (NSMS), established in 1979, a network of regional and local bodies that coordinated the actions of the SADF,* the police (SAP)* and civil defence units. The SAP* was given responsibility for counter-insurgency in South Africa and Swaziland, and the SADF for incursions into the rest of southern Africa. Certain residential areas where there was a high incidence of anti-apartheid violence were then specifically targeted by this combined security force. In 1989 De Klerk abolished the NSMS and the cabinet regained its direct control of national security. In 1997 and 1998 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission* (TRC) gained access to the minutes of the SSC and was able to expose the full ramifications of its activities.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.