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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 440
Paragraph Numbers 156 to 165
Security force policy: killing the guerrillas
156 Former SADF Special Forces commander General Joep Joubert told the Commission that, in the mid-1980s, he drew up a plan for the elimination and destruction of ANC activists, their allies and supporting structures. The then SADF chief General Jannie Geldenhuys had instructed him to draw up a plan to enable Special Forces to assist the SAP in countering the revolutionary onslaught. The proposal called for the use of both clandestine and counter-revolutionary methods against the liberation movements. “I did discuss the plan with General Geldenhuys. I was under the impression that it was approved. Operations were then launched in line with the plan,” Joubert told the Commission’s armed forces hearing. The Eastern Cape, along with Northern Transvaal and the Witwatersrand were identified as the problem areas. Joubert’s plan called for co-operation between Special Forces, the regional SADF commands and the regional heads of the security police. Joubert could not say when these operations ended; he said no order had been given to cease operations.
157 Apart from SADF raids on the front-line states during the 1980s, this plan appears to have involved the setting up of the 1986-87 Operations Katzen and Marion (see above): documentation in the Katzen file indicates that both Joubert and Geldenhuys were involved in Katzen, while Geldenhuys was one of the accused in the KwaMakhutha trial arising from Marion (see above). The Border region head of security police, General Griebenauw, was also involved in the Katzen plan.
158 Joubert’s plan also clearly involved assistance with the targeting of individual guerrillas who were then tracked down by police acting in conjunction with askaris, and assassinated.
159 Police statistics for the time indicate that insurgency increased dramatically in 1985, from fifty-one incidents reported in 1981, thirty-nine in 1982, fifty-five in 1983 and forty-four in 1984 to a massive 136 incidents for 1985.
160 It is interesting to note that, according to information handed to the Commission by the ANC, 60 per cent of the 246 MK members who died in combat were killed during the four years from 1986 to 1989, the period when the Joubert plan was probably in operation. According to the ANC list, at least 17 per cent of the deaths during those four years were either in the Eastern Cape or were of guerrillas who had been operating in the Eastern Cape22 .
161 In the Eastern Cape the Joubert plan would have focused on guerrilla infiltration from Lesotho via Transkei and would thus have involved:
a The Eastern Province (EP) Command in Port Elizabeth, which was the regional command for the Eastern Cape;
b Brigadier Joffel van der Westhuizen (now retired as a lieutenant general) who was the head of EP Command from January 1983 until January 1987. He left and subsequently took over as officer commanding of Witwatersrand Command, another of the three key problem areas identified in terms of the military’s plan;
c Brigadier Wessel Kritzinger, who took over from Van der Westhuizen as officer commanding of EP Command until March 1990;
d Colonel Reg Deyzel, the officer commanding of the military’s Group 8 base in East London between 1984 and January 1988. This base was nearer both Ciskei and Transkei than the EP Command and would have had to deal with the homelands. In October 1985 Deyzel set up the East London Joint Management Committee (JMC);
e Colonel Phillip Hammond, who took over from Deyzel as officer commanding of Group 8;
f The Border region’s then head of security police, Brigadier Griebenauw.
162 It is also likely that General Johan Coetzee, the recently retired commissioner of police, was involved. Coetzee was brought into the region and based in East London from about March 1987 until April 1989; his official brief was to run a tri-partite commission aimed at keeping the peace between Ciskei and Transkei, but this commission never operated and it seems his real reason for being there was to help run the clandestine security operations.
163 It is during this period that the security police set up an additional base in the Eastern Cape in support of Vlakplaas – based on a farm outside East London and apparently set up sometime during 1987. It is highly likely that one of Coetzee’s key tasks was to oversee the setting up of this base.
164 During the mid-1980s in Transkei, there was a marked increase in the number of incidents involving both sabotage by guerrillas and armed clashes between guerrillas and police. By 1988, a spate of security trials was underway or had recently been concluded. Most of these related to ANC activity and many were linked to each other, indicating the operation of a widespread guerrilla network across Transkei. The security force actions against this network indicate that Joubert’s plan was indeed implemented in this region.
165 1987 and 1988 were particularly bad years for guerrillas operating in Transkei, featuring several hit squad killings.22 ANC list compiled by Phyllis Naidoo, MK comrades who died in combat etc in South Africa; list prepared by MK,2 September 1996. While this list contains several inaccuracies, it has been used as a rough guide to the statistics.