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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 275
Paragraph Numbers 457 to 465
Identification of targets
457 In November 1996, Brigadier Jack Cronjé [AM2773/96] told the Amnesty Committee that, in 1985, the security forces had established a structure, called TREWITS – the Counter-Revolutionary Information Target Centre – whose primary task was to identify targets for elimination:
Initially [TREWITS] identified targets in the neighbouring states, terrorist bases, etc, but it was later extended to targets inside South Africa … Col Tom Louw was responsible, or was initially in command of TREWITS with executive chief Gen Büchner who was functioning in 1987 and after that under Gen Bob Beukes and subsequently under Brig Victor … There was a representative from Military Intelligence and SADF Special Forces. Each region maintained records with regard to who were activists, who came from what region and who caused trouble.
458 General Johan van der Merwe, head of the Security Branch in the late 1980s and a former commissioner of police, while denying that TREWITS had ever been used inside South Africa, confirmed its existence and function in respect of target identification outside of South Africa.
459 A submission from the National Intelligence Agency compiled by two former NIS representatives on TREWITS, Mr R Roos and Mr F du Preez, with former SADF representative Mr D Vorster disputed the term ‘target’ (teiken) in the name of the unit, stating that it was officially the ‘Teen Rewolusionêre Inligting Taakspan’ rather than the ‘Teen Rewolusionêre Teiken Sentrum’:
TREWITS was an official organ of the Coordinating Intelligence Committee consisting of government officials, officially seconded by their respective departments to serve on TREWITS ... The purpose of TREWITS ... was to coordinate tactical information with regard to the former liberation movements in neighbouring countries. This included detail on facilities, movement of personnel, training camps, infiltrations and planned military operations. TREWITS, however, had no mandate to get involved in the identification and execution of operations as was claimed in media reports.
460 The Commission obtained further information on TREWITS from a joint submission by the last chairperson of TREWITS, Assistant Commissioner CJA Victor and a former SAP representative, Superintendent PCJ Vermeulen, from amnesty applications, from a series of section 29 investigative hearings with former ranking police officers and former SADF officers and the questioning of former Director General of NIS, Dr LD ‘Niel’ Barnard during the State Security Policy hearing in December 1997. The Commission made further attempts to retrieve TREWITS documentation but was informed by the SAP that the official holdings were destroyed when TREWITS closed down in early 1992.
461 KIK documentation shows that the decision to form TREWITS was taken in September 1986. Before this, 1986, identification of targets was done by the different security force components separately and often on an event basis. Thus, for example, the Z-squad (a BOSS component) had as early as 1974 been involved in identifying installations in neighbouring countries. Intelligence for the Matola raid in 1981 was allegedly provided by Henk Coetzee and then Commandant Lieutenant-Colonel, later Brigadier) Callie Steijn of Military Intelligence.15 Steijn was allegedly also involved in identifying targets for the 1983 Matola raid together with Mariette Barends16 and for the June 1985 Botswana raid. (While the Commission was not able to corroborate this, it did establish that then Commandant Steijn was based in the Chief Directorate of Military Intelligence and worked on target development in the early 1980s. After a short stint as a military attache, he returned to this section and by March 1986 was responsible for the development of targets in respect of the ANC and PAC. It is therefore reasonable to assume that he carried some responsibility for the identification and/or analysis of targets in respect of cross border raids). Commandant (Lieutenant-Colonel) Jan Anton Nieuwoudt (Military Intelligence, SADF) [AM3813/96] was apparently involved in target identification between 1983 and 1988; and Major Craig Williamson [AM5181/97] admitted to being involved in target identification for the Gaberone raid.
462 Vlakplaas was also involved in both killings and abductions in neighbouring countries from the early 1980s and there, too, operatives had clearly been involved in a process of intelligence gathering around key ANC/MK personnel in the frontline states. Notably, Commandant (Lieutenant-Colonel) Steijn was the military’s full-time liaison person with Section C from 1978/9 to the end of 1982.
463 As conflict escalated towards the mid-1980s, the SADF appears to have established a target identification workgroup. One of its initial members, Captain Henri van der Westhuizen, established a sub-group in the Eastern Transvaal in late 1986, drawing on the resources of the NIS, the Security Branch and Military Intelligence. The Eastern Transvaal was seen as the buffer between South Africa and Mozambique and Swaziland and thus the primary infiltration route of MK personnel from those countries. Members of the Eastern Transvaal group included: then Warrant Officer FHS ‘Lappies’ Labuschagne (Security Branch) [AM5005/97], Henri van der Westhuizen (Military Intelligence), and Mr Daan du Plessis (NIS). As Swaziland was a police responsibility, this group, according to Van der Westhuizen, operated under the overall command of the divisional Security Branch commander Brigadier Schalk Visser and subsequently Brigadier Daan Siebert. Later Van der Westhuizen assisted in establishing a group in Ladybrand (OFS) which had responsibility for developing targets in Lesotho. This group was chaired by Ladybrand Security Branch commander Frik Fouche, with Paul Oeschger as the SADF representative. Similar networks were set up in Zeerust (Western Transvaal) with responsibility for Botswana, where the SADF was represented by Captain HC Nel; and in the Northern Province where Leon Nefdt served as the SADF representative. The Northern Transvaal group had responsibility for Zimbabwe and Nefdt apparently drew extensively on Daan du Plessis who had allegedly developed an extensive source base in Zimbabwe. Nel was also responsible for developing targets in Angola.
464 According to Captain Henri van der Westhuizen, SADF authorisation for the establishment of the Eastern Transvaal workgroup came from then Brig Chris Thirion (Chief Director Military Intelligence), Major General ‘Joep’ Joubert (General Officer Commanding Special Forces) and Major-General Dirk Hamman (Chief of Army Intelligence)
465 At about the same time as the Eastern Transvaal target workgroup was established, the decision to set up TREWITS was made. As indicated above, this decision was recorded in the September minutes of KIK. Willem Schoon told the Commission that:
The fact that MK and eventually APLA members started using neighbouring frontline states as a springboard for launching their armed attacks against the Republic led directly to the establishment of a cross-border capability aimed at eliminating or neutralisng this very real threat. A counter-Revolutionary Intelligence Task Team was created and comprised members of the NIS, the SAP and the SADF.15 See Büchner section 29; interview with Henri van der Westhuizen. 16 Interview: Henri van der Westhuizen.