Shocks from the Steyn Report

The truth about assassinations is making=20 news through the Steyn Report and the truth=20 commission

Mail & Guardian Reporter

The Mail & Guardian has a summary of the=20 Steyn Report, a document considered so=20 explosive that President Nelson Mandela=20 chose not to make its details public after=20 he was briefed about its findings in case=20 it jeopardised the post-1994 election=20 transition.=20

The controversial report has been kept=20 under wraps for more than two years by all=20 parties—- including Mandela’s office,=20 former president FW de Klerk and two=20 attorneys general—- who had access to=20 the information contained in it.

The summary in the M&G’s possession shows=20 that General Pierre Steyn, appointed in=20 late 1992 to investigate Third Force=20 violence that racked parts of the country=20 in the run up to the elections, believed:

* The South African Defence Force’s (SADF)=20 reconnaissance regiments, with the help of=20 Spoornet’s intelligence agency, were=20 involved in train massacres that rocked the=20 Witwatersrand in the run up to the 1994=20 elections.

* The military’s Seventh Medical Division=20 supplied poison to assassins from army hit=20 squads and was involved in a chemical bomb=20 attack on Frelimo troops in Mozambique in=20 the late 1980s.

* Caches of arms were stockpiled in various=20 African countries—- including Kenya,=20 Zambia and Mauritius—- so that they=20 could be used by South African special=20 forces to destabilise African countries and=20 also a new black government in Pretoria.=20

* Right-wing Renamo rebels in Mozambique=20 and members of Inkatha hit squads in South=20 Africa were armed and trained by operatives=20 in the Department of Covert Collections, a=20 wing of military intelligence, even in the=20 early 1990s.=20

* Game reserves in South Africa and=20 neighbouring states were used to stockpile=20 war material and train surrogate=20 paramilitary forces.=20

The Steyn Report provides details about=20 these and other extraordinary covert=20 operations run by the SADF’s military=20 intelligence division and members of the=20 army’s special forces in the late 1980s and=20 early 1990s.

Last month Mandela’s office, for the first=20 time, provided the truth commission with a=20 copy of the Steyn Report so that it could=20 be investigated more fully: truth=20 commission officials say the information=20 cannot be released because much of it is in=20 the form of “untested allegations”.=20

However, the summary document, apparently=20 drafted by a team of state investigators=20 probing the possible prosecution of members=20 of military hit squads, points out that=20 details of many of the clandestine=20 operations described in the report were=20 regarded by its author, General Pierre=20 Steyn, as “corroborated” or “probably=20 true”.=20

Although Steyn pointed out that he was=20 relying on internal intelligence sources=20 and reports, rather than evidence of the=20 kinds that could support criminal=20 prosecutions, he felt most of his findings=20 were strong enough to warrant dismissal or=20 forced retirement of many officers named in=20 the report.

The summary makes clear that Steyn=20 recommended the forced retirement of=20 General Georg Meiring, then chief of the=20 army, General Kat Liebenberg, then chief of=20 the defence force, and General Joffel van=20 der Westhuizen, then chief of staff=20 intelligence because they had been linked=20 by counter-intelligence officials to some=20 of the clandestine activity described in=20 the report. Liebenberg and Van Der=20 Westhuizen have since retired. Meiring, the=20 current chief of defence, has denied he was=20 implicated in the Steyn report.

The summary notes that Steyn reached his=20 conclusions and recommendations after=20 making use of investigations into Third=20 Force activity conducted by the military’s=20 own department of counter intelligence and=20 the National Intelligence Service—- the=20 National Party government’s information=20 gathering unit that operated outside the=20 ambit of the police and military.=20

These are extracts from the summary of the=20 Steyn Report: “With regard to violence,=20 activities range from targeted=20 assassinations or involvement in inter- organisational conflict (between black=20 organisations) to seemingly random violence=20 such as the train massacres.
Groups=20 involved included DCC, Special Forces=20 (Reconnaissance Regiments One and Five),=20 Vlakplaas (the police counter intelligence=20 unit) and the Seventh Medical Battalion ...

“Although concrete evidence was not=20 available, monitoring of conversations,=20 movements and transport suggested that,=20 under cover of Operation Pastoor, elements=20 of the Special Forces were involved in East=20 Rand violence, that Recce Regiments One and=20 Five were in KwaZulu, raising the=20 possibility that they may be involved in=20 activities there.=20

“There were rumours that Five=20 Reconnaissance Regiment, together with ex- Selous Scouts, were involved in train=20 violence.=20

“There were also reports that Spoornet’s=20 intelligence structure which comprised old=20 Special Force members was involved in the=20 train massacres. Destabilisation=20 encompasses a variety of actions broadly=20 designed to destabilise the internal and=20 external situations. There seems to be some=20 suggestion that there was an intention of=20 creating sufficient disorder to enable the=20 military to step in credibly to create=20 order ...

“Numerous allegations revolve around=20 stockpiling arms in caches in various=20 countries [largely African—- Kenya,=20 Zambia and Mauritius—- but Portugal is=20 also mentioned] and creating `springboards’=20 in these countries for potential military=20 action. Much of this appeared to happen in=20 nature reserves.

`Internally training was alleged to be=20 given to Inkatha and Ciskei security forces=20 by DCC. As regards Inkatha, training was=20 given to supporters who were then armed by=20 security companies with strong ex-Rhodesian=20 links =C9 This is said to run from the Durban=20 DCC offices.=20

“Arms were also said to be transported from=20 South Africa to Mozambique. One route was=20 via the Kruger National Park to the PWV=20 area. Another organised by the Durban=20 security police involved smuggling AK-47s=20 for Inkatha.

“A number of allegations also centred on=20 setting up covert structures (to derail the=20 negotiation process under way at the time).=20 >From a box at Loftus (rugby ground in=20 Pretoria), there were talks of setting up=20 and underground organisation; attempts were=20 made to set up a CCB-type organisation at=20 the beginning of 1992 (the Civil Co- operation Bureau was officially disbanded=20 after being exposed as a death squad); a=20 former SADF officer was said to be=20 organising a resistance structure involving=20 old Special Force members, 32 [Battalion]=20 and the Parachute Battalions; It was also=20 believed that some of the arms coming from=20 Mozambique were being distributed to the=20 AWB (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging) ...=20

“Aside from the chemical attack on Frelimo=20 ... a CBW (chemical and biological weapons)=20 programme is operating under Brig/Dr=20 Basson. The project is codenamed Project=20 Jota and a process of privatisation is=20 proceeding in order to ensure its survival.=20 Companies involved include: Roodeplaat=20 Navorsingslaboratorium, Roodeplaats=20 Teelonderneming, Delta G, Protechnics.”

* M&G reported last week that President=20 Nelson Mandela had been in possession of=20 the Steyn Report since 1994. Presidential=20 liaison officer Parks Mankahlana this week=20 denied Mandela had a copy, but confirmed he=20 had been briefed by Steyn.

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