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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 17

Volume 3

Chapter 1

Subsection 11

1972 Black police are trained in anti-‘terrorist’ techniques by the SAP and deployed in Namibia.
Bophuthatswana, Ciskei and Lebowa are granted self-government status. Conscription is extended from nine to twelve months, followed by a nineteen-day annual call-up for five years.
The Black People’s Convention (BPC) is launched as an umbrella body to co-ordinate black consciousness groups.
The 1 Reconnaissance Regiment of the SADF is established. Operation Plathond, a joint SADF/BOSS operation to train dissident Zambians in the Caprivi Strip, is launched.
The Schlebush Commission is appointed to investigate the objects, organisation, financing and activities of the University Christian Movement (UCM), NUSAS, the Christian Institute of Southern Africa, the South African Institute of Race Relations, and other related organisations.
Widespread student protests and expulsions of students take place at many universities in May, followed by student demonstrations which are broken up by the police.
1973 The Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), a militant offshoot of the Herstigte Nasionale Party (HNP) is formed. A wave of strikes begins in Durban and spreads to all major urban centres, marking the re-emergence of political protest and independent trade unionism.
African and Arab states impose an oil embargo on South Africa.
1974 The UN withdraws the credentials of the South African delegation, which loses voting but not speaking rights in the General Assembly. The ANC and PAC are granted observer status.
After a coup in Portugal, Portuguese colonial control in Mozambique and Angola collapses (leading in 1975 to independent socialist governments hostile to apartheid). The collapse of the buffer of colonial states between South Africa and ‘the rest of Africa’ leads to a review of South Africa’s regional and domestic security policy and to the emergence of the theory of ‘total strategy’ under PW Botha, including regional destabilisation.
The first cross-border killings take place in February. SASO founder Ongkopotse Abraham Tiro is killed in Botswana by a parcel bomb, and Boy Mvemve (John Dube) is killed by a letter bomb in Zambia.
Rallies in support of FRELIMO are held in Durban and at the University of the North. They are broken up by the police. Many are arrested across the country and several BPC and SASO leaders are detained and tortured.
A Special Forces division in the SADF is established in October, followed by the expansion of reconnaissance regiments.
1975 Operation K, a Security Branch counter-insurgency unit in Namibia and forerunner to Koevoet, is launched in January. The Inkatha Cultural Liberation Movement is formed. Mozambique and Angola become independent. The SADF takes over responsibility for the counter-insurgency war in Namibia.
South Africa launches Operation Savannah, an invasion of Angola with US support (but withdraws the following year). The Special Task Force is formed in January, followed by the setting up of eighteen full-time Riot Units countrywide. (The units are formed with a strong emphasis on the use of counter-insurgency techniques and were later responsible for the policing of the 1976 student revolt).
The Turnhalle conference takes place in Namibia, followed by the setting up of Democratic Turnhalle Alliance.
1976 On 16 June, the Soweto uprising begins. Police open fire on approximately 10 000 pupils protesting against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. Resistance spreads nationwide and continues for several months. There are 575 official deaths, including 390 in the Transvaal and 137 in the Western Cape. Over 2 000 people are injured. Arrests, deaths in detention and trials follow the revolt. The first members of the ‘Class of 76’ leave South Africa for training in armed resistance.
Nominal independence is granted to the Transkei in October, under the leadership of Paramount Chief Kaiser Matanzima.
1977 KwaZulu gains self-governance in February. At the Goch Street shooting in Johannesburg on 15 June, two whites are killed and MK operatives Solomon Mahlangu and Mondy Motloung are arrested. (Mahlangu is sentenced to death and executed in April 1979). Former ANC member, Leonard Nkosi, is killed by the ANC on 9 September, after he joins the Security Branch. Black consciousness activist, Bantu Stephen Biko, dies in detention in Pretoria on 12 September, following his detention in Port Elizabeth. Widespread protests around the country follow. Numerous other deaths in detention occur during 1977 and in subsequent years. Conscription to military service is increased to two years; citizen force duty to thirty days a year for eight years.
Former government official, Robert Smit, and his wife, Cora Smit, are killed in a possible political assassination in the Transvaal. With the launch of Operation Silwer, South Africa begins giving official support to UNITA.
The ANC establishes guerrilla training camps in Angola, catering for the large-scale influx of youth from the 1976 student uprisings. The South African Students’ Organisation (SASO), the Christian Institute and the Black People’s Convention (BPC) are banned along with other organisations. Bophuthatswana becomes ‘independent’. Winnie Mandela is banished for eight years to Brandfort in the Orange Free State.
1978 Anti-apartheid academic and activist, Rick Turner is killed in Durban on 8 January. The Azanian Peoples Organisation (AZAPO) is launched in May. Prime Minister BJ Vorster is forced to resign in the wake of the Information Scandal. It is revealed that he agreed to channel millions of rands to the Department of Information for a major covert international propaganda campaign, including the launch of the Citizen newspaper in South Africa. PW Botha becomes Prime Minister, and State President from 1984 under the new constitution. Botha’s policy of ‘total strategy’ is introduced, involving reforms of the apartheid system, combined with extensive militarisation of the state as set out in the Defence White Paper. The introduction of the strategy follows the Venter and Van Dalsen enquiries.
South Africa accepts United Nations Resolution 435 for the independence of SWA/Namibia. An ANC visit to Vietnam marks a shift in ANC military tactics. This is followed by the Fort Klapperkop Conference in 1979 and the Coetzee Committee in which leading security personnel review security policies towards the ANC and intelligence structures.
Kassinga Massacre: Operation Reindeer results in an SADF raid on SWAPO camps at Kassinga and Chetequera. Approximately 1 000 people are killed, 612 at Kassinga. The SADF attacks SWAPO refugee camps in Zambia.
1979 Venda becomes independent. MK Special Operations Unit is formed. COSAS (Congress of South African Students), PEBCO (Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation) and AZASO (Azanian Students Organisation), later renamed SASCO (South African Students Congress) are formed. The Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU) is formed, followed by the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) the following year.
The government launches its ‘constellation of states’ policy to block ANC cross- border raids.
Riekert and Wiehahn labour ‘reforms’ are introduced. The State Security Council adopts guidelines for cross-border raids, marking a shift to proactive defence and security policies.
The National Security Management System (NSMS) is implemented. The Secretariat of the State Security Council is established. (Regional Joint Management Centres (JMCs) are set up in the early 1980s).
Attacks by the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) on Lesotho from bases in the Orange Free State, are first reported. The Security Branch Vlakplaas unit is established by Colonel JJ Viktor. (It is later formally constituted in 1981 with the transfer of Security Branch officers to Vlakplaas).
Koevoet is established in January as a police counter-insurgency unit for operations in northern Namibia. Koevoet operates on a bounty basis whereby members are given cash bonuses for killed and captured ‘terrorists’.
Chief Buthelezi and the ANC leadership in exile meet in London in October, where- after ties are severed between Inkatha and the ANC. Lancaster House settlement on Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
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