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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 645

Paragraph Numbers 274 to 285

Volume 2

Chapter 7

Subsection 23

The ultra-right

274 On the ultra-right front, a succession of extremist and militant groups, as well as some non-militant groups, emerged. Some constituted ‘armed wings’ of the more recognised conservative groups, like the AWB’s Ystergarde (Iron Guard) and Wenkommandos (paramilitary wing), the Boere Weerstandsbeweging (BWB) and its own armed wing, the Boere Republikeinse Leër (BRL), the Orde Boerevolk (OB), the Wit Wolwe (WW), the Wit Bevrydingsleër, Magsaksie Afrikaner Nasionalisme, the Pretoria Boerekommando, Boere Vryheidsbeweging (BVB) and the Wit Wolwe.

Formation of the Afrikaner Volksfront

275 Racial tension mounted in a number of regions following the killing of Communist Party leader Mr Chris Hani. Leading figures in the extreme right wing warned of retaliation in the event of reprisals following Hani’s death. Heavily armed, flag-carrying AWB members and its Ystergarde drove around townships threatening residents that they would suffer the same fate as Chris Hani. The Boere Weerstandsbeweging warned that it would embark on a cleansing process, eliminating all black communists and agitators. The AWB Wenkommando promised merciless attacks on anyone who threatened the lives or property of whites. In a poster war, Mr Barend Strydom of the Wit Wolwe declared that his organisation would take up the battle with the ANC in the event of attacks on white citizens.

276 It was in the wake of the death of CP leader Dr Andries Treurnicht that a group of retired SADF generals known as the ‘Committee of Generals’ held a series of meetings around the country resulting in the formation of the Eenheidskomitee 25 (EK25). This was later expanded to form the Volkseenheidskomitee (Vekom) with General Viljoen as leader, and a number of other leading ex-security force members including General ‘Tienie’ Groenewald (former chief of MI), General Koos Bischoff (former chief of operations of the army), General Lothar Neethling (a former deputy commissioner of police), and General Cobus Visser (a former head of CID) in leading roles. Vekom immediately began to establish regional committees in the rural areas of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

277 Less than two weeks after the creation of Vekom, the Afrikaner Volksfront was conceived at a meeting in Pretoria. A broad spectrum of right-wing groups were present, including the CP, HNP, Afrikaner Volksunie, Afrikaner Vryheidstigting (Avstig), the WAB, the Boere Vryheidsbeweging, Pretoria Boerekommando Group, and Vekom. Also present were the Mine Workers Union, the Iron and Steel Workers Union, the Transvaal and Free State Agricultural Union, the Church of the Creator, the Oranjewerkers-Vereniging and some business and church groupings.

278 General Groenewald convinced the CP’s Dries Bruwer and the AWB to join the AVF. More militant groups like the BWB and the BRL also later became de facto members of the AVF. Simultaneously, the former Boere Krisis Aksie was reactivated through the Boere Vryheidsbeweging (BVB) for the establishment of a ‘volksleër’ (people’s army), consisting mostly of farmers. Its numbers were thought to be around 10 000, of whom 3 000 could be mobilised at short notice. The volksleër allegedly later became the military arm of the AVF. It was for some time under the command of Colonel Jan Breytenbach, formerly from Special Forces and commander of 32 Battalion.

279 The various groupings developed strategies of action involving the mobilisation of resistance and support from various quarters, including homelands parties and some international organisations. Some grouping planned armed actions against the state. In one such protest action, AWB members crashed through the doors of the World Trade Centre at Kempton Park, Johannesburg, in a Casspir (armoured personnel carrier). This was a warning sign that the AWB and some of its militant allies were not fully under the control of the generals. In the Freedom Front submission, General Viljoen acknowledged that they realised that the mood among some supporting groups was volatile and that it could “very well become uncontrollable”.

280 In March 1994, Eugene Terre’Blanche disregarded an order from Viljoen not to join other AVF members sent to help President Lucas Mangope of Bophuthatswana with the turmoil caused by civil servant strikes (see below). Constand Viljoen [AM5667/97] then resigned as leader of the AVF, distanced himself from the AWB and agreed to take part in the election under the banner of the Freedom Front. The final phase of resistance/revolt was averted by the signing of the last minute pre-election ‘Accord on Afrikaner Self-Determination’ between the AVF, ANC and the NP government on 23 April 1994. The accord made provision for the inclusion in the interim Constitution of the principle of self-determination and the establishment of the Volkstaatraad. From amnesty applications it appears that AWB members had in mind a “conventional war” to “overthrow” the former (NP) government and to convert it to a ‘Boererepubliek’ . The aim was to generate secession in certain regions and then to take over the government with “military violence”. This was to happen in three phases, first, a propaganda campaign to create support; second, the stock-piling of food and weapons and the subversion of government authority and third, the use of sabotage and other violent actions to propel the government into as much social and political chaos as possible.

281 Amnesty applicants say that the AWB ‘Generale Staf’ gave orders to all commanders during November 1993 to plan in their regions for the take-over of all police stations. This was never carried through.

282 Shortly before the general election, the AWB drew up a strategy to acquire the Transvaal and the Orange Free State as a base against a future “Communist government”. It provided for the occupation of these areas by thousands of its followers “to ensure sufficient manpower was mustered to ward off any persecution or action against supporters of the right wing”. Twenty-three amnesty applicants asserted that before the election many right-wing town councils in the western Transvaal made an agreement with the AWB to protect key (logistical) points should the need arise. The AWB would then transform themselves into volkstaat police for the protection of such towns. The AWB was also granted the freedom of a number of western Transvaal towns during this time.

283 Closely associated with the AWB, the more radical BWB included an “armed wing”, called the Boere Republikeinse Leër (BRL). Amnesty applicants from the BWB claimed that they were given instructions at meetings to prepare for war, which included the procurement of weapons and ammunition.

284 After the formation of the AVF, the commandos were incorporated into the umbrella movement’s paramilitary structures. At this point, claims put the number of ‘soldiers’ that could be mustered at between 50 000 and 500 000.

285 Many AWB amnesty applicants refer to a meeting in Ventersdorp in February 1994 where they were informed that a coalition would be formed with the AVF and CP to declare secession in order to obtain the land that was to be ruled by the Afrikaner Boerevolk. Terre’Blanche allegedly pronounced at this meeting that he was the mouthpiece of the Afrikaner Boerevolk and ordered the AWB generals to return to their commandos and prepare for war.

 
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