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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 592

Paragraph Numbers 43 to 51

Volume 2

Chapter 7

Subsection 4


43 During this period political opponents continued to be killed in circumstances which pointed directly to security force involvement.

External killings

44 On 22 April 1990, four members of the Chand family, Samsodien, Hajira and their two young deaf children, Amina and Ridwan, were killed, along with an unnamed security guard, in an attack on their home in Botswana. According to Colonel Eugene de Kock, the operation was authorised by Brigadier Nick Janse van Rensburg who had succeeded Schoon as head of C section. De Kock executed the operation with a team of Vlakplaas operatives. Five of the operatives involved applied for amnesty; namely, Colonel Eugene De Kock [AM0066/96], W A ‘Willie’ Nortjé [AM3764/96], Major Chappies Klopper, Douw Willemse [AM3721/96] J H Tait [AM3922/96], WW Mentz [AM 2775/96], D J Brits [AM3745/96] and Martinus Ras [AM5183/97]. Another applicant not directly involved in the operation, Izak Daniel Bosch [AM3765/96], applied for amnesty for his role in creating a decoy.

45 The Chands were victims of rivalries within the intelligence community – specifically in this case between the Western Transvaal Security Police and Military Intelligence’s Directorate of Covert Collections (DCC). According to evidence before the Commission from the section 29 hearing of Captain Hendrik Christoffel Nel in the late 1980s, DCC operative Tony Oosthuizen recruited Chand as a conduit for the infiltration of PAC members and APLA guerrillas into South Africa. Chand acted as a source for the Western Transvaal Security Branch but had been “put on ice” as they felt they had the PAC in Botswana under their control.

46 According to Nel, the Western Transvaal became concerned with this disruption to their mode of operation and because they learned that some of the APLA infiltrators had “got away” Matters came to a head after Chand brought a small PAC group into the country who, when intercepted at a roadblock, engaged in a shoot-out in which fifteen police were wounded and a number of civilians killed. “The next thing Sam Chand was eliminated.” Nel’s story is corroborated by other information collected by the Commission.

47 On 28 April 1990, Father Michael Lapsley [CT00654], a New Zealand citizen but long-time resident of Southern Africa, and well known for his support of the South African liberation movement, was severely injured in a parcel bomb explosion at his home in Harare, Zimbabwe. The explosive was contained in a registered package in a large manila envelope with a Dobsonville, Soweto postmark. A colleague in the room at the time, Mr Andrew Mutizwa, was slightly injured by the blast.

48 In his appearance before the Commission, Lapsley stated that the security authorities in Zimbabwe had warned him in 1988 that his name was on a South African hit list of targets for elimination. Given the recent spate of attacks on targets inside Zimbabwe, the warning was taken seriously and Lapsley was given a twenty-four-hour guard and warned not to open large packages. After the unbannings in South Africa in February 1990 and a statement by General Malan that there would be no further attacks in the front-line states, the protection was relaxed. The Lapsley case is the last known incident of an attempted cross-border or external killing in the mandate period.

49 Christoffel Nel, who had no direct knowledge of this operation, confirmed that Lapsley had been a DCC ‘target’ (for intelligence attention and not necessarily killing) since 1987, and that whenever Leon Nefdt (DCC operative responsible for Zimbabwe) ... presented his targets to the Generals, Father Michael Lapsley was included in the so-called support infrastructure of the Zimbabwean machinery and part of the political machinery ... there was at one stage a discussion about doing something to Father Michael Lapsley … before I joined the CCB, about the possibility of sending him a parcel. Leon Nefdt in my presence had a discussion with a certain Colonel Hekkies van Heerden. He was known as ‘Colonel Hammer’ because it was jokingly said that he would use a hammer to kill a fly ... I think that’s exactly what happened in the case of Father Michael Lapsley, that he received a parcel.

50 The one question that puzzled Nel was the timing of the operation – post-February 1990 – which made him feel that it was neither a DCC nor Special Forces/CCB operation. Joe Verster [AM5471/97], the CCB’s general manager who appeared before the Commission, deviated only once from his position that he would not discuss external operations when, under oath, he denied that Lapsley was a CCB project.

51 Nel speculated that the Lapsley bombing was possibly a NIS operation. He argued strongly that NIS had an operational division with a strong presence in Zimbabwe. Its key operative, Danie du Plessis, was said to have had an intimate knowledge of the situation, particularly in relation to what was known as the ‘white left’. There is other supporting evidence that NIS monitored Lapsley closely. The Commission received source reports on Lapsley dated 29 January and 8 May 1990.

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