Intelligence Chief: Unit Plotted Killings, Harassment of Tutu
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Members of a secret intelligence unit planted bombs, were suspects in political killings and plotted to harass Archbishop Desmond Tutu by sending him a baboon fetus, an intelligence official said Monday.
Gen. Rudolph Badenhorst, head of the Military Intelligence branch of the Defense Force, was the first witness to testify before a judicial inquiry into allegations of military and police participation in death squads.
Opposition leaders claim the squads may have been involved in about 60 unsolved murders of anti-government activists in the past decade.
Badenhorst said the Civil Cooperation Bureau - a unit so secret that President F.W. de Klerk says he was not told of its existence until recently - had blown up a Pretoria store owned by an anti-apartheid activist, exploded a bomb at a community hall in a mixed-race township near Cape Town and planned to deliver a baboon fetus to Tutu, an anti-apartheid leader and winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.
Badenhorst gave no reason for the plan to send the fetus. He said the idea was called ″Operation Apie.″
The intelligence chief said an internal military investigation begun in November revealed that prominent anti-apartheid activists such as black mineworkers leader Cyril Ramaphosa, the Rev. Frank Chikane of the South African Council of Churches and Jay Naidoo, general secretary of the nation’s largest trade union federation, were on a list to have their movements monitored.
He maintained that he did not know the bureau existed before November and he didn’t know the purpose of the surveillance.
The secret unit reportedly consisted of cells of civilians, mostly former policemen, in undercover operations against government opponents.
An attorney for the Civil Cooperation Bureau said its chief, Col. Joe Verster, had been detained Friday for questioning by police who are investigating the 1989 assassinations of David Webster, a Johannesburg anthropologist, and Anton Lubowski, the only white executive member of the South-West African People’s Organization in Namibia.
Badenhorst confirmed that three former policemen wanted in Lubowski’s death were members of the Civil Cooperation Bureau. All three disappeared last month after police in Namibia issued warrants for their arrests. Badenhorst said the Civil Cooperation Bureau was not involved in Webster’s slaying.
He said that during questioning by military investigators, Verster had seemed surprised at some of the activities of bureau members, and was especially surprised by the hiring of an ex-policeman, Ferdie Barnard, after he had been released from prison.
De Klerk, who became president in August, said Defense Minister Magnus Malan did not tell him of the Civil Cooperation Bureau until January. Badenhorst told the commission de Klerk had not sanctioned any of the unit’s activities.
Malan said Monday he did not know the bureau existed until November.
The defense minister has said he never authorized killings or other illegal acts, but he has come under increasing pressure from opposition parties to resign.
In another judicial inquiry ordered by de Klerk, Supreme Court Justice Richard Goldstone ruled that Clayton Sizwe Sithole, identified by friends as the former boyfriend of Nelson Mandela’s youngest daughter, Zindziwe, committed suicide in police custody on Jan. 27.
Sithole had been arrested with others in a murder investigation, and after police interrogation he was found hanging by his shoelaces and belt at the Johannesburg police headquarters.
Goldstone said there were no recent injuries on his body other than those associated with hanging.