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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 157
Paragraph Numbers 477 to 492
477 ANC offices, or what were described at the time by the South African government as such, were subjected to sabotage attacks in at least seven countries. These were Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, England and Sweden. In addition, attempts were made to assassinate ANC representatives in France and Belgium in their offices – successfully in the French case. South African government involvement in all but the Swedish and Belgian cases has either been admitted or conclusively established. In the two cases in doubt, circumstantial evidence points to the involvement of South African state agents.
478 In addition, in July and August 1982, the South African Security Branch was responsible for burglaries of the ANC, PAC, and SWAPO offices in England, for which two agents – Mr Peter Casselton and Mr Edward Aspinall – were imprisoned and a diplomat attached to the London mission, Warrant Officer Joseph Klue, was expelled. The office of the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) in London was also burgled on at least one occasion in the 1980s.
479 Casselton and Klue played a prominent role in the most audacious of these sabotage operations, namely the attack on the ANC’s London mission on 14 March 1982. The then head of the Security Branch, General Johan Coetzee, has submitted an amnesty application for his planning role in the operation. The Commission has also received applications from the team of security police operatives assembled for the attack – Craig Williamson, Eugene de Kock, Major John Adam, Jerry Raven, ‘Vic’ McPherson and Captain Jimmy Taylor. In his application, Coetzee states that the instruction to undertake the operation came from the then Minister of Law and Order, Louis le Grange, and was undertaken in reprisal for the involvement of British subjects in the ANC rocket attack on the Voortrekkerhoogte military base near Pretoria in 1981.
480 The task of assembling the team was assigned to Colonel Piet Goosen, then head of section G (foreign intelligence) of the Security Branch. The plastic explosive components for the bomb were developed by Jerry Raven of the police technical division and shipped to London in a diplomatic bag. These parts were collected and delivered by Klue, then a military attaché at the South African Embassy in London, to Casselton’s home, where Raven assembled the bomb.
481 The false documentation for the detonation team was prepared by a section G member who has not applied for amnesty and cannot therefore be named; nor can the member of the police forensic laboratory who prepared vials of nerve gas. According to one of the operatives, the gas was for “added protection for the team”. The use of the diplomatic bag was a violation of international conventions in regard to diplomatic conduct between nations. At his appearance before the Commission, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pik Botha, denied any prior knowledge of the use of the bag.
482 The ANC office was empty at the time of the explosion; only the caretaker of the building was slightly injured. Both the AAM’s former chair, Lord Hughes (in his appearance before the Commission) and its executive secretary, Mr Mike Terry (in a discussion with the Commission) raised the possibility that the operation may have been an assassination attempt on the life of the ANC president, Mr Oliver Tambo. They point to the fact that the operation coincided with a large international anti-apartheid demonstration in London that weekend. The gathering and Tambo’s participation in it, they claim, had been widely publicised. They also point to the timing of the blast (09h00) and the fact that it was well known that Tambo tended to hold early morning meetings at the ANC office when in London.
483 After the operation, each of the participants was decorated with the Police Star for Excellent Service (SOE) at a ceremony in Minister le Grange’s office, attended by General Coetzee and the then SAP commissioner, General Mike Geldenhuys.
THE COMMISSION FINDS THAT THE OPERATION AGAINST THE ANC DIPLOMATIC MISSION IN LONDON WAS AUTHORISED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL AND THAT THE PRIME MINISTER, MR PW BOTHA, AND THE MINISTER OF LAW AND ORDER, MR LOUIS LE GRANGE, ARE DEEMED TO BE DIRECTLY ACCOUNTABLE. THE RAID WAS UNDERTAKEN IN VIOLATION OF THE TERRITORIAL SOVEREIGNTY OF THE UNITED KINGDOM AND WAS ALSO A VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW IN TERMS OF ARTICLE 27, PARAGRAPH IV OF THE 1961 VIENNA CONVENTION ON DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS IN REGARD TO THE USE OF THE DIPLOMATIC BAG.
484 A little over four years after the London bombing, the ANC office on the third floor of an office block in Stockholm, Sweden, was severely damaged in an explosion on 9 September 1986. Three people were present in the office at the time, including the ANC’s representative, Ms Lindiwe Mabuza. No one was injured. No arrests were made for the bombing and no group ever claimed responsibility. While the ANC suspected South African involvement, a Swedish police inspector suggested the ANC had organised the explosion itself “because the ANC needed publicity”. The Commission uncovered no new evidence on the incident and can make no finding on it.
485 In June 1985, according to the amnesty application of ‘Vic’ McPherson, the ANC office in ChaCha Cha Road, Lusaka, was bombed. The plan was ‘sold’ to the commissioner of police as an attempt to kill Joe Slovo, and involved a Swaziland- based agent code-named Ali placing a booby-trapped briefcase in the offices. Ali failed to penetrate the office complex and instead placed the bomb at the entrance gate. It caused minimal damage. Ali was paid R15 000 for the attempt.
486 Almost exactly a year later, on 17 May 1987, the relocated ANC office in a residence in Lincoln Street, Harare, was hit by a rocket fired from a distance of 200 metres. No one was hurt in the attack.
487 The UNHCR office in Swaziland was burgled in the late 1970s in an operation detailed in the amnesty application of Dirk Coetzee. He states that he was tasked with the operation by Major Nic van Rensburg of the Ermelo Security Branch and was assisted by two Eastern Transvaal Security Branch members and some ‘friends’ based in Swaziland.
488 The Ephesus House office in Manzini, Swaziland, was burgled on 17 October 1986. The raid was led by amnesty applicant Eugene de Kock, assisted by nine others including Daniel Izak Bosch, who also applied for amnesty. A refugee support organisation, Ephesus worked closely with ANC and MK operatives and served as a conduit for Scandinavian government funding of the ANC. Files stolen in the raid contained sensitive information on underground operatives. A year before the raid, the chair of the Ephesus Board, Dr John Daniel, had been deported from Swaziland in terms of the Swazi–South African security pact, while the chief administrator in the office, Ms Felicia Forrest, had been detained by the Swazi police. Her feared handover to the South African security police was prevented by the vigorous intervention of the Norwegian embassy in Harare, which sent a senior official to Swaziland. The Norwegian government was one of the funders of the organisation.
489 The Commission has information on, and amnesty applications for, attacks on houses which appear to have been undertaken only because they housed ANC members or supporters.
490 One attack, for which Eugene Fourie has applied for amnesty, occurred in 1989 and targeted the Swazi home of the then MK commander for Natal, Mr Muziwakhe Ngwenya (aka Thami Zulu). The intention was to kill Zulu and seize documents pertaining to planned MK operations. Documents were seized, but Zulu was away at the time and not apprehended. His wife, Ms Thabisile Mngadi, their two children and an elderly woman were not harmed, although they were bound, gagged and locked in the house.
491 Vlakplaas operative Sergeant DJ ‘Duiwel’ Brits applied for amnesty for a 1985 attack on a house in Botswana alleged to be a transit facility. Explosives were placed and the property extensively damaged. The house was empty at the time of the attack. Brits was accompanied by seven other Vlakplaas members in this operation.
492 The Commission has uncorroborated information of an attack in Gaborone in February 1985 in which two exiled South African journalists escaped injury when their home was bombed; of the killing of an unnamed South African refugee in Gaborone in May 1985 when his house was bombed; of a 1986 bomb attack on a house in Gaborone where a Batswana woman was killed and her child hurt; of hand grenade attacks on four houses in Gaborone in December 1987 which caused extensive damage but no injuries. Also hit was the Botswana Book Centre, a repository of progressive literature.