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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 282
Paragraph Numbers 482 to 490
482 As indicated above, the twenty members of the ANC National Executive Council were regarded as priority targets. Van der Westhuizen indicated that the following people were regarded as targets in Mozambique: Mr Jacob Zuma, Ms Sue Rabkin, Mr Mohamed Timol, Mr Bobby Pillay, Mr Keith Mokoape and Mr Indres Naidoo.
483 Nel gave evidence as to the extensive infiltration of the ANC’s, and to some extent, the PAC’s Lesotho networks. Thus, for example, Nel said that “we made available to them an office, a telex, a facility they could use to communicate and all the telephone conversations and everything that happened was available to us”. The eventual detention of virtually the entire Western Cape MK machinery arose when this Special Forces facility intercepted a phone call from a Cape Town MK operative to the Lesotho office. It needs to be noted that recruitment was not necessarily aimed at high-ranking targets, but frequently those who had access or were close to such targets. As Nel suggested, “You would get an infrastructure of sources. What we normally say jokingly, ‘You start with the cleaner to end up with the General’. You start at the backdoor, you get the cleaner to work for you and the cleaner will tell you about somebody else who’s got certain weaknesses and then you go one step higher and as you go higher you discard the more junior sources”. Taxi drivers, in particular those who operated on the border areas, appear to have been a particular target for recruitment.
484 According to Nel, another strong component of security force strategy at this time was to place emphasis on “disruption by ... indirect means of getting the enemy to kill itself, to detain itself and to disrupt itself. And physically killing them was placed more or less ... [a]s a last resort...”. This approach could obviously encompass a wide range of tactics including spreading disinformation which could lead to the detention or killing of individuals by their own cadres; tampering with weapons caches – in particular altering time devices – which appears to have been done by both Security Branch and SADF; and so forth.
485 Operations aimed at elimination were sometimes called off for logistical reasons. For example, Nel indicates that the Mozambican leg of the dual Swaziland and Mozambican operation planned for December 1986 was called off because the link-up between the seaward attacking group and Dave Tippet on land failed to materialise. This operation entailed hitting the ANC targets in Mozambique listed above and at the point at which it was called off, the seaward attack group was already in Maputo harbour.
486 Finally, political considerations provided a further factor in determining whether and when targets could be hit. Nel gave some detail about a target he had developed in Angola that was similarly called off at the last moment, this time for political considerations:
[W]hen I arrived at Special Forces headquarters, I was given the responsibility of work on Angola specifically to identify a target with a large concentration of MK soldiers that can be attacked by the SADF … Then it was decided that Vuyana Camp, which is about 30 km east of Luanda, would be attacked and I went all around the country and I had access to all information and I travelled abroad to Portugal and other places to debrief informers and other people ... And today you can blindfold me, I can draw the base and every little thing that was inside it ...
That operation went all the way up, the reconnaissance team went in and they marked up the base [with flares that would be ignited to guide the planes in] and everything was 100 per cent correct ... I was sitting in the foyer of Genl Malan’s office with Colonel Prinsloo many times to present this thing and to be on stand-by and eventually to the disappointment of many people and after a lot of money was wasted and used, of naval operations and air force planning ... it was stopped due to political reasons ... It would have clashed with political initiatives [to start negotiating with the Cubans] at that stage. It was the right target at the wrong time.
487 At other times, however, political considerations dictated carrying out operations based on old or incomplete intelligence. Thus examples were cited when a political decision was made to retaliate against ANC actions and operations would be conducted based on what intelligence personnel regarded as old intelligence, leading frequently to the wrong targets being hit.
488 From evidence before the Commission, it would appear that, while almost all the initial work focused on external targets, a decision was taken later to develop internal targets. Captain HC ‘Chris’ Nel explained how this came about:
[A]fter doing this total presentation that we worked through all the night ... and we worked through Botswana and Zimbabwe and all the countries and we plotted the individuals’ houses and their photos were there and all the facilities ... And then we were very disappointed when Genl Liebenberg said to us: “You are missing the point. I do not see any information about the top structure of the SACP. The whites, where are they? The UDF, where are they?”... It was explained to us that there were pipelines. The Botswana machinery may be in Gaberone to day but tomorrow they are somewhere in the Western Transvaal. So should we stop our operation at the border or should we follow the pipelines through to their courier systems and their safe houses inside the country?
489 Following this, Chris Cloete was specifically tasked to look at the internal situation.
490 KIK documentation shows that, from early on, target identification and development was to be one of TREWITS’ responsibilities. An item in the KIK minutes for October 1986 (that is, one month following the decision to set up TREWITS) states: