Stratcom never died says ex cop

Anne Eveleth

The former State Security Council’s dirty-tricks operation Stratcom (Strategic Communications), was not disbanded in 1991, a former security policeman has

Suspended security policeman Sergeant Gary Pollack claims Stratcom became a top-secret structure known by its Afrikaans acronym “Trewits” (Teenrevolusionere Strategie—Counter-revolutionary Strategy).

Under pressure to cease political operations following the Peace Accord and a spate of exposes in 1991, Security Branch regional bosses officially took over all Stratcom operations, reducing the “need to know” numbers in the SB to high-ranking officers and a select few foot-soldiers.

Pollack received an effective six-year prison sentence this week for possession and sale of two AK47s he claims his commander ordered him to infiltrate into the PAC before the May 1993 nationwide raid on PAC offices.

Pollack was granted R10 000 bail on leave to appeal his conviction in the Durban Regional Court.

Pollack’s application for his trial to be postponed until he could face the Truth Commission failed earlier this year, despite his claims to have committed a host of other crimes in the service of the state between 1987 and 1993. Pollack says he opened his bag of dirty tricks to Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, Justice Minister Dullah Omar and Deputy Home Affairs Minister Penuell Maduna in March 1994.

Among the crimes Pollack confessed to, in court papers filed in February, were ambushing and shooting the tyres of a bus carrying ANC supporters to the Delmas treason trial; arming Inkatha Freedom Party members in Johannesburg; warning IFP hostel leaders of impending police raids; infiltrating weapons into Umkhonto we Sizwe and the Azanian People’s Liberation Army in order to force their members to become informers; bugging conversations of Cyril Ramaphosa, FW de Klerk, Pik Botha and Roelf Meyer while employed by Anglo-American; and planting listening devices in the home of Hein Grosskopf’s parents.

Pollack said this week: “Stratcom never shut down (as FW de Klerk claimed). Around the time of the Peace Accord, three generals—Basie Smit, Johann le Roux and another general—came to our office and said the government wanted us to continue, but we would have to work differently. Before, we used to fill out forms about what we were doing; now we couldn’t.”

Pollack said 11 SB members were present at that meeting in Alexandra. “Trewits’ meetings were by invitation only. I was invited to a number of them strictly to pass on information collected from my 14 informers.

“The general strategy was that, besides arming Inkatha, more needed to be done to divide the black political parties and ensure the ANC didn’t win the election. This included demonising the PAC and building the perception that Winnie Mandela, Peter Mokaba and MK “dissidents” were going to join the PAC.”

While Pollack’s claims were rejected during his trial, Pollack’s commanding officer Col Zenardt de Beer admitted knowledge of Trewits.

Probed on the possible role of a police “Counter- revolutionary strategy” unit in a period when the police were supposed to have stopped all political activity, De Beer replied “But revolutionary is not necessarily politics. It boils down to violence.”

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