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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 243

Paragraph Numbers 292 to 298

Volume 6

Section 3

Chapter 1

Subsection 26

Operation Katzen

292. Brigadier Christoffel Pierre ‘Joffel’ van der Westhuizen devised Operation Katzen90 in response to intense pressure from high-ranking members of the security forces and the political leadership of the National Party to stablise the security situation in the Eastern Cape. In the short term, Operation Katzen aimed to fracture resistance politics in the Eastern Cape by creating an organisation along the lines of Inkatha. In the longer term, its ambitious plan was to lay the basis for a new constitutional dispensation in the region, allowing for African involvement in local and regional political structures.

293. Applicant Van der Westhuizen testified that the broad outline of this plan was in line with the thinking of State Security Council (SSC) structures at the time.

90 See Volume Tw o, Chapter Five, p p. 4 3 5 – 4 0 .

Operation Katzen was approved by both the Chief of the Army, General ‘Kat’ Liebenberg, and his superior, the Chief of the SADF, General Jannie Geldenhuys, and put into operation.

294. By January 1987, the following actions had been taken:

    a Iliso Lomzi had been established by anti-Sebe forces as the progovernment ‘resistance movement’ and had undergone training.

    b Charles Sebe, who had been identified as the leader of Iliso Lomzi, had been sprung from prison in Middledrift by members of Special Forces/CCB.

    c Kwane Sebe, son of Lennox Sebe and head of the Ciskei Police Elite Unit, and his second in command had been kidnapped and were being held in the Transkei.91

    d A shadow cabinet for the Ciskei had been established and plans had been made to topple the government.

    e A Stratcom plan aimed at discrediting Lennox Sebe had been put into effect as part of the plan to remove him from power by force.

295. By now Brigadier van der Westhuizen had been transferred to the Witwatersrand Command. He told the Amnesty Committee that Operation Katzen was terminated at this time. Yet despite his protestations, an attempted coup did take place in February 1987. Although Brigadier van der Westhuizen claimed that this no longer had the support of the SADF, he conceded that it was the direct result of Operation Katzen.

296. Planning documents submitted to the Amnesty Committee in connection with Operation Katzen make generous use of terminology such as ‘permanently disappear’, ‘take out’, ‘get rid of’ and similar expressions. Applicant van der Westhuizen denied that such terminology was intended to mean killing, although he continued to make the somewhat fantastic assertion that only ‘an uninformed person who could possibly read the Plan, could be encouraged to kill or kidnap or discredit’ those so identified as targets for ‘removal’.

297. Van der Westhuizen’s testimony was contradicted by that of Brigadier Johannes Lodewickus Griebenauw, divisional commander of the Security Branch in the Border Region. Griebenauw testified that he had been instructed by his superiors to participate in Operation Katzen. He said that he had had reservations about this, particularly after Iliso Lomzi started engaging in ‘certain […] acts of terror ’ (East London hearing, 7 April 1999).

At that stage … I found it hard to swallow as a policeman, because on the one hand I was trying to combat terrorism and on the other hand, I was aware of people who were being trained as terrorists. (East London hearing, 7 April 1999.)

298. In November 1986, one of his operatives had reported back to him from Operation Katzen meetings held in the Transkei, giving him the impression :

that what we were now concerned with was killing, actual, physical killing and physical removal, and that was probably the biggest reason that I withdrew and why I asked Head Office that we as the police should withdraw completely. (East London hearing, 7 April 1999.)
91 The Amnesty Committee also received applications from members of the Ciskei Elite Unit, who sought amnesty for the torture of several detainees who had been detained in the aftermath of Charles Sebe’s escape from prison and in connection with the activities of Iliso Lomzi.
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