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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 530

Paragraph Numbers 34 to 45

Volume 2

Chapter 6

Part Part4

Subsection 3


34 The Kahn Committee, consisting of Professor Ellison Kahn (in the chair), Mr Jan A Crafford, Mr James O McMillan and Mr SA Strauss, was announced by President de Klerk on 30 July 1991. It issued three interim reports and a final report on 19 November 1991. Its mandate was limited: the committee considered only such projects as were brought to its attention by the various state departments that were still operative – with a view to recommending the cancellation of covert activities wherever possible. Where the committee was of the opinion that projects should be allowed to continue, recommendations were to be made for the possible scaling down and, where necessary, adaptation of such projects. The committee was requested to ensure that projects did not benefit any particular political party or organisation.

35 Projects that were not terminated were to serve what was defined as "the national interest". Such activities were said to include the elimination of violence, intimidation, sanctions and international isolation.

36 Departments of state in receipt of covert funding were required to furnish the committee with documents setting out the nature of ongoing projects. The committee noted several additional projects that had already been terminated, as well as ‘line function’ secret projects carried out by the NIS, the SADF, the SAP and the Department of Foreign Affairs, with the recommendation that these be continued. Where termination of projects was recommended, financial obligations (both contractual and moral) to employees were to be honoured in order to avoid grievances that could result in sensitive information being revealed.

37 A list of covert projects, together with recommendations on each, was published in the committee’s four reports. These included sixteen projects under the direction of the SADF, eleven under the Department of Foreign Affairs, nine under the SAP, seven under the NIS and one under the Department of National Education. The report does not contain any information on gross violations of human rights.

38 The Kahn Committee recommended that:

  • certain secret projects that met the criteria stipulated by the then government should be continued;
  • certain projects should be terminated in accordance with a phasing-out process which involved the honouring of both contractual and moral financial obligations to those involved in the projects;
  • departments such as the NIS, the SADF and the SAP needed to continue certain covert activities as a part of their line functions;
  • legislation should be introduced on the management of secret funds.

39 In a press statement on 19 September 1991, Mr de Klerk accepted all these recommendations, announcing that all contractual obligations suggested by the committee would be met.

The Ministers’ Committee on Special Projects

40 The Ministers’ Committee on Special Projects was established to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Kahn Committee, chaired by Mr Kobie Coetsee. The committee monitored the implementation of the Kahn Committee recommendations until the Secret Services Account Amendment Act No 142 of 1992 came into effect on 1 April 1993.

41 The Ministers’ Committee recommended that the reports of the Kahn Committee be made available to the Auditor-General for auditing, and established guidelines for exercising ministerial responsibility over secret projects. These included the need for ministers to be individually responsible for secret projects within departmental line functions and for department heads to be accountable for carrying out administrative regulations.

42 The final report of the committee dealt with a number of specific projects and allegations. It further indicated that:

  • the recommendations of the Kahn Committee had been implemented;
  • the once sensitive matter of secret activities had been brought under control;
  • there was no reason for the continued existence of the committee, whose task would be taken over by the proposed Secret Services Evaluation Committee and the establishment of the Transitional Executive Committee of government.


43 The Secret Services Evaluation Committee consisted of Ministers Amie Venter (chairperson), DJ de Villiers, DL Keys and Professor SA Strauss, with Advocate MF Ackerman as secretary. It first met on 8 April 1993, in response to the 1992 Secret Services Account Amendment Act. The task of the Evaluation Committee was to –

  • evaluate all proposed secret services of all government departments with the exception of the SADF and NIS3, with a view to determining whether their objectives and methods were in the national interest; and
  • undertake an annual review of all secret services of these departments, and determine, in the light of their objectives, whether they should be continued.

44 The committee further identified the nature of existing secret projects, establishing the name of each project, its aims, operational area, business details, modus operandi, financial details and time frame. It also enquired into the reason why the particular project needed to be of a covert nature, and whether its existence was in the national interest.

45 Like the Coetsee Committee, the Evaluation Committee recommended the continuation of certain projects, including initiatives undertaken by the SAP relating to the combating of crime. In other instances, it reported on the termination of projects as well as on new projects that the committee judged to be in the national interest.

3 These budgets were regarded as secret. The amounts involved were handled between the Minister of State Expenditure and the ministers responsible for the NIS and SADF.
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