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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 134
Paragraph Numbers 377 to 385
■ SPECIAL OPERATIONS OF A SENSITIVE OR COVERT NATURE: THE CCB
Die CCB is die benaming soos ons vanoggend hier sit, van ‘n bordjie op ‘n tafel, in plaas van om daar te sê Spesiale Operasies van covert aard, staan daar Burgerlike Samewerkingsburo op ‘n gewone oggendkonferensie van spesiale magte. Die CCB het net binne spesiale magte gefunksioneer. The CCB is a designation (developed) at a regular morning conference of Special Forces, just as we sitting here today. Like a sideplate on a table; instead of Special Operations of a covert nature, there emerged the CCB. The CCB functioned only within Special Forces. (Colonel Pieter Johan (Joe) Verster, testimony to the Commission, 18 August 1997.)
377 The Commission’s investigations of the CCB were hampered by the fact that no applications for amnesty were received from CCB members in regard to the organisation’s external operations. CCB operatives summonsed to appear before the Commission all, with one exception, refused to discuss its external activities. Another difficulty was the fact that the one state commission (Harms) set up to investigate the CCB was worthless. The Harms Commission focused only on internal operations while the CCB was primarily an externally-oriented organisation. Only the surface of CCB activities was, therefore, scratched.
378 Details have been given elsewhere in this chapter of the SADF’s development of specialised units. The earliest was formed in 1961. Later in the 1960s, reconnaissance commandos were established specialising in air, sea and land operations that could not be undertaken by conventional forces. In the 1970s, these developed into reconnaissance (Recce) regiments of which there were eventually four, operating under the rubric of the general officer commanding (GOC) Special Forces, a post formally established in October 1974.
379 The four Recce regiments were numbered 1, 2, 4 and 5. For a brief period there was also a Recce 3 but that name seems to have given way to Delta 40 or D40. This unit was formed in response to the independence of Zimbabwe and the large numbers of experienced Rhodesian counter-insurgency personnel who were recruited into the South African security network through Operation Winter. This project was headed by the then GOC Special Forces, Major General FW Loots. The other development was a perceived need on the part of South Africa’s military strategists for Special Forces to develop a covert arm.
380 D40 was headed by ex-Rhodesian Mr Garth Barrett and was comprised almost exclusively of other ex-compatriots. It was members of this unit that undertook the Matola Raid in 1981, in which they lost three members. In 1981, D40’s name changed to Barnacle. In about 1983, it appears that many Rhodesians, including Barrett, left the SADF. Nonetheless, a component of Barnacle continued to operate within Zimbabwe right up until the late 1980s.
381 In his amnesty application, Colonel PJ ‘Joe’ Verster stated that, in 1986, certain structures within the security system were reorganised. The impetus came from the retiring chief of the SADF, General Constand Viljoen. From 1975–81, Verster had been officer commanding of 1 Recce. In 1981, he was assigned to Special Forces’ headquarters (‘Speskop’) initially as staff officer (later senior staff officer) for Special Operations – effectively staff officer to the GOC of Special Forces. In 1986, a new post of senior staff officer: Covert Operations was created and assumed by Verster. He still remained directly accountable to the GOC but now for a different kind of special operation. In his testimony, Verster described his new assignment as “developing a covert force to counter the covert operations of the ANC”.24
382 The above details are corroborated in the amnesty application of the GOC Special Forces (November 1985–January 1989), General AJM ‘Joep’ Joubert, where he states that:
In the mid- to late eighties, one of the major goals of national security policy and strategy was to bring the revolutionary organisation and mobilisation by the liberation movements, particularly the ANC, to a halt … by this time it was also clear that the ANC was not going to be stopped by normal conventional methods and that revolutionary methods would have to be used. As the institution for external operations, Special Forces would also have to intensify its external operations … since the necessity for unconventional and revolutionary action was already clear, it was also clear that clandestine and covert operations would have to take place internally, for which Special Forces members would be used. It was more or less then that the name CCB was adopted as a replacement for D40 or Barnacle. The revolutionary and covert nature of the plan, amongst other things, involved:
a) that ANC leaders and people who substantially contributed to the struggle would be eliminated;
b) that ANC facilities and support services would be destroyed;
c) activists, sympathisers, fighters and people who supported them would also be eliminated;
383 The CCB was not therefore planned as an organisation separate from the SADF’s institutional framework. Nor was it any kind of ‘third force’ in the sense of a separate and autonomous entity. What it represented was an additional capacity on the part of Special Forces in its war against ‘the enemy’. With the established Special Forces operating as they had for some years – largely in a cross-border capacity with, where necessary, the public backing and acknowledgement of the SADF hierarchy and government – they were now to be supplemented by a secret, apparently civilian strike force, which neither the government nor the SADF would acknowledge publicly.
384 Thus the CCB represented a new method of state-directed warfare in the South African context, part of Special Forces but structured and functioning in a way intended to make it seem it was not.
385 Those who were recruited into the CCB from the ranks of the SADF or police never regarded themselves as operating from outside the rubric of the state security system; nor did most probably know that they were members of an entity called the CCB. It was not a term used outside of the planning and senior administrative level. It was a “posbenaming”, as Verster put it in his amnesty application. He stated “omdat die BG Spesiale Magte om sy konferensietafel nie wou praat van die Koverte Operasionele Staf Offisier nie is die benaming Burgerlike Samewerkings Buro geskep” (because the above-mentioned special forces did not want to speak about the covert operations around the conference table, the name Civil Cooperation Bureau was adopted). The quote at the head of this section reflects that arrangement.24 Translation of section 29 hearing transcript, p. 13.