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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 216
Paragraph Numbers 155 to 166
PART THREE: KEY SECURITY FORCE UNITS INVOLVED IN GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
SECURITY BRANCH HEADQUARTERS
155. The Headquarters of the Security Branch was based in Pretoria. Until 1992, the Security Branch was organised centrally, with headquarters in Pretoria and nineteen regional divisions (excluding South West Africa).6 7
156. A total of eighty-one applicants applied for amnesty for offences committed while based at Security Branch Headquarters. Forty-seven of these applicants were based in C1/Vlakplaas.67 In the 1990s, the Security Branch was renamed Crime Intelligence and Investigation and fell under the same division as the old Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and several of the regional divisions were combined. However, for the sake of simplicity and because the bulk of applications fall into the pre-1990 period, this report has not distinguished between the pre- and post-1990 periods.
Case study: C1/Vlakplaas
157. Thirty-five of the forty-seven Vlakplaas members who applied for amnesty were white Security Branch operatives and seven were black. Only five C1-based askaris applied for amnesty.68
158. Vlakplaas is a 44-hectare farm just outside Pretoria. C1 was ostensibly a rehabilitation project for ‘reformed members’ of the liberation movements. However, beyond the employment of askaris as trackers of MK and APLA combatants, there is no sign that any rehabilitation took place.
159. From its inception through the 1980s, C1/Vlakplaas was deployed in the following ways:
a assisting in the tracking and identification of members of the liberation movement who had received military training and were active in MK and APLA structure s ;
b conducting covert cross - border operations (Swaziland remained the p re-eminent area of activity, always in close liaison with the Eastern Transvaal Security Branch division), and
c conducting internal covert operations, either where a political decision or the command structure of the Security Branch decided on a covert operation or during the routine deployment of askari s in regions. In some instances this was at the request of the divisional or local branch; in others as an outcome of the tracking work being undertaken.
160. Askaris were former members of the liberation movements who came to work for the Security Branch, providing information, identifying and tracing former comrades. A number were also operationally deployed.
161. Former members of the liberation movements became askaris if they defected from the liberation movements of their own accord or if they were arrested or captured. In some cases, attempts were made to ‘turn’ captured MK operatives using both orthodox and unorthodox methods during interrogation. Other askar i s w e re MK operatives who had been abducted by the Security Branch f rom neighbouring states.6 9 Several abductees remain disappeared and are believed to have been killed. The threats of death used to ‘turn’ a s k aris w e re not idle. Amnesty applications revealed that several operatives were killed for steadfastly refusing to co-operate.
162. A s k a r i s w e re primarily used to infiltrate groups and to identify former comrades with whom they had trained in other countries. At the Pretoria hearing in July 1999, Mr Chris Mosiane testified:
In the initial stages askaris were used as police dogs to sniff out insurgents with white SB [Security Branch members] as their handlers. Black SB were used to monitor the askaris.
163. Askaris w e re initially treated as informers and were paid from a secret fund. Later, they were integrated into the SAP at the level of constable and were paid an SAP salary. While deployed in the regions, they were paid an additional amount, which was usually generated by making false claims to a secret fund. After successful operations they usually received bonuses.
164. The askaris used Vlakplaas as an operational base and resided in the townships w here they attempted to maintain their cover as underground MK operatives. Although a few askaris escaped, most were far too frightened to attempt it. At his amnesty hearing, Colonel Eugene de Kock70 testified that he had set up a spy network amongst the askaris and used electronic surveillance. He told the Amnesty Committee that he had also established a disciplinary structure to deal with internal issues and other infractions by askaris and white officers. However, askaris who exceeded their authority in operational situations or criminal matters were seldom punished.
165. Generally askaris were extremely effective. Because of their internal experience of MK structures, they were invaluable in identifying potential suspects, in infiltrating networks, in interrogations and in giving evidence for the state in trials.
166. A large number of white C1 operatives were drawn from Koevoet, the SAP Special Task Force or had specific counter- insurgency experience. Several had explosives training while a small number were former detectives who could ‘arrange scenes’ after covert operations in order to ensure they would not be traced to the security forces .68 At least two others applied for amnesty but subsequently withdrew their applications. 69 See Chris Mosiane interview, below. 70 See further details on Eugene de Kock below (para 170 onwards).