Silly hippies, idealists, deluded leftie “useful idiots” and cowards often say that violence never solved anything. Hard, practical men have always known better.
As one musketeer said to another in the movie The Man in the Iron Mask, “not all problems should be solved with a sword, but some problems can not be solved without one”.
Ah, swords… They lead to and are complemented by shields, and eventually become the crest of the Soviet era KGB. “The sword and shield of the Party” killed uncounted millions and terrified into submission hundreds of millions more.
Hans Frank, Hitler’s legal expert, once said “the power and the certainty of being able to use force without any resistance are the sweetest and most noxious poison that can be introduced into any government”. The KGB certainly did that. As swords, they cut down multitudes of mostly unarmed people and as shield protected a clique of power-hungry cowards who didn’t want to get their hands wet.
Yes, the term “wet work” used to denote assassination is actually a KGB expression which came about after they discovered at institutional level that one’s hands get wet with blood when killing, and there really is nothing sweeter or more noxious than a government’s ability to use force against those who can’t fight back.
Now, if that was merely a bad period in world history, that would’ve been one thing. However, the seeds of systematic oppression in post-apartheid South Africa have begun to sprout and what was once just a barely glimpsed dark and shadowy outline in a fog of denial, self-delusion and deception is becoming increasingly visible.
This is happening for a number of reasons, chief among them widespread corruption within the African National Congress (ANC) which has infiltrated government departments due to the party’s “cadre deployment” policy, people who should know better seeing the act of exposing and dealing with corruption as being counter-revolutionary and as siding with the “former oppressors” (white people) against the “liberation movement” (read ANC) in order to bring back apartheid (which is hogwash), cowardice, plain and simple greed, pandering tothe insecurities and vanities of old men such as Jacob Zuma and worst of all, for the perverse joy of abusing those one is charged with protecting without much in the way of consequences.
Before going further, something needs to be explained, that is the fundamental difference between how the Nazi and communist oppression systems worked, and upon what basis, as well as how they would influence democratic and communist security systems during the Cold War era, for make no mistake, Nazi expertise in COIN and state security practice influenced West European COIN and security doctrines, while the Soviet experience guided the Eastern Bloc and other countries which fell under USSR influence and control.
The Nazi security system with its plethora of services ranging from the Gestapo to concentration camp administration was based on and worked within the ambit of German law.
Whether one agrees with the precepts of that legal system or not, it is a fact.
The Germans and their characteristic Teutonic obsession with law and order which was further entrenched by the chaos and suffering which followed the humiliating Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I, did everything by the book- and if the book told them they were superior to homosexuals, Slavs, gypsies, cripples and so on, that’s what they believed.
If the book told them that it was their duty to not only purify their own race but to eliminate those who didn’t make the grade, well, they did that too.
As for their security services, those men and women operated according to the laws in effect at that time and usually only strayed outside of those boundaries by mistake.
In other words, they operated on the principle that they were servants of the Reich and its laws, and those laws did not allow them to oppress or hurt those who conformed.
This meant that people who obeyed the law and caused no trouble went about whatever lives they could lead during wartime with confidence that nobody ranging from ordinary cops to the Gestapo would break down their door at 3AM and haul them away for a painful Q&A session.
This sensible approach is what made most of German-occupied Europe give Wehrmacht troops little in the way of trouble, with the exception of what the Resistance did.
In general, German soldiers did not engage in barbarism, mass rape and looting because there were mechanisms in place within their organizations to deal with such actions and the consequences for contravention of orders were often severe.
Where they killed, it was usually armed opponents, Resistance figures and of course, Jews. Where they looted, they took it from Jews as the laws commanded.
As for rape, Reich racial purity laws made sexual relations (willing and otherwise) with what they called Untermenschen utterly illegal and punishable by imprisonment, if not worse, given that it was wartime.
In comparison, the OGPU, NKVD, MGB and later KGB put expediency above the letter and spirit of the law. Almost everything they did violated Soviet law, ranging from denying suspects access to attorneys and law books, torture of every kind and using threats against family members to extract confessions regardless of whether those confessions were true or not. To them and their enthusiastic descendants, what mattered was not what the law said, but what those with power said it meant. Considering that in fact KGB officers were encouraged to do whatever they wanted in public in order to intimidate, it’s hardly surprising this led to acts of abuse and horror that dwarfed anything the Nazis did by several orders of magnitude.
Where the Wehrmacht killed 10 or 100 civilians in reprisal for the deaths of some German soldiers at the hands of the Resistance, the Soviets killed thousands of Polish army officers in the Katyn Forest.
Where the SS and Gestapo killed a few hundred Jews, the Soviets put 22.000 victims under the Siberian permafrost to be forgotten and found by chance when a crew was building a road around 3 or 4 years ago.
Where the Germans killed 33.771 Jews, Soviet POWs and others at Babi Yar, the Soviets killed around 120.000 at Bykivnia. Actually, the Soviets killed so many people and their record-keeping was so screwed up that nobody knows the real number of victims.
Now compare that to the Nazis, who documented just about everything they did, and whose mass graves as well as body counts can be verified with far greater precision-and therein lies the rub. The Nazis were organized down to the last detail, while the Soviets and those whom they later influenced barely qualified as blunt instruments blundering in the dark. Keep this point in mind, because it has a bearing on what comes next.
Contrary to popular belief based on anti-apartheid propaganda of the 1970s and 1980s, apartheid South Africa was not a place of psychotic knuckleheads running riot.
It was in fact a country based on laws which were enforced. This meant that even though the cornerstone of government policy was the white man’s supremacy over the black man, whites couldn’t go around killing black people without consequences.
True, some of those who did such things got off more lightly than the blacks who returned the favor, but the apartheid government had no sense of humor about white guys bombing a public space to kill black people going about their business, as Barend “Wit Wolf” (White Wolf) Strydom found out- he was caught, tried and sentenced to death.
The sentence was not carried out because in 1991 or 1992, the ANC forced then-South African president F.W. de Klerk to set free another death row inmate- Robert McBride, a cell leader responsible for bombing Magoo’s Bar- as one of the main non-negotiable conditions for negotiations. In response, after freeing McBride, de Klerk also freed Barend Strydom.
As an example of a white man getting off lightly for killing black people, I once met a guy who killed five blacks for the fun of it. He was arrested, found guilty and fined R5.000, or about US $2.000 back then. On the other hand, there was a white immigrant who used to enjoy pulling a gun on unsuspecting black people in downtown Johannesburg. Not to shoot, just to scare the daylights out of them. That put a smile on his face for a while, until he ran into a black guy who ripped the gun out of his hands and shot him in the leg with it.
As far as I know, nothing happened to the black guy afterwards.
There were laws back then, and they were enforced. The cops didn’t mess around; if a black person was found on city streets after 5PM in violation of pass laws, they were arrested, but not killed. Whites found having sexual relations with members of other races were arrested for contravening the Morality Act and if found guilty by a court of law, they went to prison. Okay, prisons were segregated by race back then, so they were incarcerated with whites, but it’s safe to say they didn’t have an easy time once word got out among the general population as to what they were convicted of.
Because there was compulsory military service back then, one had only three choices-declare oneself a conscientious objector and hope to be believed, go to jail for around two years instead of serving in the defense force or the police (and get a lifelong criminal record), or leave the country. Still, none of these things happened without due process being followed. Those arrested had access to lawyers, they had their day in court and could mount a defense, and if found guilty would do the stipulated time (no more or less).
The country was orderly. Roads were superbly built and maintained, cities were clean and safe, the economy was regulated via legislation and price control boards for every product (especially food), farmers were a lot safer than they are today and also received government subsidies along with every kind of support possible (such as Israeli arid climate agricultural techniques), schools were quiet, well run, resourced and staffed with highly qualified teachers (unlike today), everybody worked hard and applied themselves to a culture of professionalism and service that was a marvel to behold after 14 years spent in a communist country. That professionalism and culture of service also permeated the apartheid era securityservices. Those people had the resources they needed, a firm and knowledgeable leadership driven by adherence to the country’s laws, as well as a superb grasp of the country’s internal and external security threats.
This meant they had a well developed network of informants and no so-called liberation movement could launch a protest without South African Police’s (SAP) Security Branch as well as Bureau of State Security (BOSS) finding out within minutes, then deploying the necessary police detachments to block and disperse the crowds.
True, the cops were brutal in some instances as the history of the Langa, Sharpeville and 1976 Soweto schools’ uprising show, but that was only after the commander on the scene issued commands to disperse which crowds refused to obey.
After that, orders would come down from the government leadership via the SAP chain of command to disperse the crowd by any means necessary. This usually started with tear gas and escalated through forward-moving shield walls backed by batons and sjamboks (a whip about 4 feet long, hurts like hell when you’re hit with it), and if the cops were fired upon or had projectiles of any kind thrown at them, then R1 (local version of the FN FAL) and R4 (SA version of Israeli Galil rifle) would be taken off Safe and fired to deadly effect while Security Branch operatives roamed the streets to grab or kill riot leaders.
About the only thing that wasn’t dealt with by law was the matter of assassination.
This appears to have been a somewhat informal policy, executed pursuant to euphemistic commands issued from Cabinet level. Still, even in this the apartheid government along with its security machinery showed discernment and discrimination.
First, they didn’t kill just anybody. The targets were figures in the anti-apartheid movements who made too much of a nuisance of themselves, and that only after all other attempts to capture, recruit or otherwise persuade the target to cease and desist had failed.
Intelligence was gathered through a variety of means and from a great variety of sources.
Apartheid cops and spooks would trawl for those victimized by the ANC and other groups they targeted. Sometimes they would offer black people to solve their pass problems or pay them cash. Other times they tortured suspects for information and they excelled at extracting what they needed, as many victims both alive and dead can attest.
Yet even that was only after other means had been exhausted…
So, when it came to assassination, the government would repeatedly warn people to stop what they were doing. When that didn’t work, arrest and perhaps a beating followed.
If that didn’t work, then detention (with or without trial) and imprisonment was tried.
If that too failed, then a Cabinet minister would ask a police or defense force general (depending on whether the threat was internal or external) to “make a plan” about the person concerned.
The cops, soldiers and spooks generally didn’t like killing white people, even those involved in anti-government activities, but they did do it on a number of occasions, such as when they killed Ruth First, Anton Lubowski and others.
Much as anti-apartheid propaganda and movies would like people to believe it, the cops, soldiers and spooks who served the apartheid regime did not view other races as subhuman. For the most part, they were Christians who took their religion and its morality seriously. This above almost everything else is what caused a large number of them to suffer from PTSD and other disorders after the activities they were involved in, and kept drug dealers in business with a huge consumption of marijuana, heroin and Mandrax to dull the mental anguish they endured. In this regard, it is my estimate that between the 1970s and 1990s most of the country’s drug addicts were white males who had been of military age during that period.
No, movies such as Bopha! and Biko along with documentaries about South Africa’s Border Wars and decades-long COIN campaign in black townships don’t show how the cops and soldiers drank and drugged themselves after battles and riots, or the hell they endured in the decades that followed, because it’s more convenient to perpetuate the myth that they were mindless and soulless killing machines.
I’ve met many combat vets and even a former government assassin. Most, including that assassin, were haunted men who were tortured every day by what they did and witnessed, and for which they received little if any counseling, and about which they couldn’t even speak to a priest because they had signed the Official Secrets Act, which is a life-long commitment.
The vast majority of these men bore their burdens quietly while in some cases their families were destroyed by tensions they couldn’t address. They are a far cry from what their former enemies made them out to be.
They were and are men of conscience who did all of that out of duty and patriotism, as well as under coercion by the entire machinery of the South African state.
They and pretty much they alone bear those burdens because the politicians and generals who ordered them to do terrible things made a deal with the ANC and sold everybody below them down the stinking river that is today’s so-called democratic South Africa.
They were hard men who did hard things, but also men who did everything by whatever the book said in those days- unlike the communist-inspired ANC, whose cadres do almost whatever they want these days with little to no regard for the law.
And so we come to some of the shenanigans post-apartheid South African security services have been involved in…
By far, the biggest abusers of power are the Domestic Branch (formerly known as the National Intelligence Agency or NIA, charged with domestic security) and the South African Police Service together with its Crime Intelligence.
These organizations’ area of focus is supposed to be the internal security of South Africa’s government and its people. This is something that is based upon serious laws with supposedly serious consequences, but the numbers of reported cases of unlawful interception of communications, intimidation, unlawful arrest, torture, rape, murder and fraud are on the increase and make a mockery of operating by the book.
Why? It’s simple. With the infiltration of these organs of state by former members of so-called liberation movements came the communist way of doing things and its corruption of everything it touches. After all, what else could anybody expect from organizations infested with what I call “graduates of the KGB’s ‘throw a Molotov cocktail and necklace your next-door neighbor’ school”? That they would put law above expediency?
The Foreign and Domestic Branch along with SAPS Crime Intelligence and its witness protection program draw funds from the so-called Secret Services Account.
These are laundered funds spent without attribution and very little in the way of accountability because of operational security constraints.
As far as SAPS are concerned, it is a hub of self-enrichment, because as it has been found, cops whose job it is to look after witness protection program facilities often use the funds ostensibly to refurbish properties, but instead what they do is swap their own homes’ worn-out furniture and appliances with whatever they buy with Secret Services Account cash.
At the same time, the witness protection program is an underfunded and understaffed joke which only provides protection while the witnesses are testifying, after which they are cut loose.
It turns out that besides the rundown facilities, witnesses in hiding (who now obviously can’t work) are given a daily stipend which adds up to around R4.000 a month, a little below US $300 at current exchange rate. If you earned R10.000 a month or more before this, then it’s quite a step down the economic ladder, especially if you have a family to feed.
Furthermore, cases where reported in which the witnesses’ police handlers treated them badly, even to the point of threatening their lives. Just as bad, these poor people also do not have protective details assigned to them while residing in safe houses, and little to no counseling during their stay in the program. As a consequence quite a few witnesses were killed because they breached security protocols and contacted their families.
When it comes to testifying, witnesses have to do this in open court and it is a matter of fact that there are no security provisions for witnesses at any court in South Africa, such as secure holding areas, armored booths in court, or facilities separate from those used by the accused.
In other words, you sit in court in close proximity to those you’re about to testify against, using the same toilets and smoking areas.
The idea of generating new identities for witnesses and their families and relocating them after the trials and appeals is almost unheard of in South Africa, so witnesses are vulnerable to assassination afterwards.
When you add to it crooked lawyers and cops who leak witness information to gangsters, what you get are some of the best reasons to develop amnesia and justice be damned because only the idealistic or suicidal would agree to testify under such circumstances.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the cyber security is so bad that around two years ago hackers stole 400 gigabytes of information from the witness protection program.
Not that it was reported in the media when it happened… Oh no, that only came out much later and it was more of a “by the way” type of comment rather than an in-depth investigation.
Those interested in just how bad things are inside SA’s witness protection program can go to http://www.cherylgoodenough.com/docs/sawitnessprotection.pdf for one hell of a sobering report.
Among the program’s big problems are the lies cops themselves tell potential witnesses.
It has been revealed more than once that witnesses to gang-related incidents and other such serious crimes are often promised witness protection by investigators, but in fact none is provided, and witnesses either end up killed or along with their families, are subjected to terror campaigns by those they testify against.
Two such cases were reported by a Port Elizabeth newspaper. In one case, a witness was left to dangle in the wind and after the threats from the gangsters he was due to testify against got really bad, hired a bodyguard at own expense and refused to show up in court.
The magistrate ordered this witness’s arrest. When the cop showed up on his doorstep, he explained the situation, then with bulletproof vest on, gun in hand and bodyguard in tow, followed the cop in his own vehicle to court, after which he went through security just like that and told the magistrate exactly what had been going on.
The aftermath of that case was never made public, so it is not known if the witness eventually received state protection or not.
In the second case, a Christian preacher who witnessed a gang-related murder was falsely promised witness protection and induced to testify in court. No such protection was provided and he has been living in fear for his life over the last few years since then.
This man has a price on his head, the gangsters know where he is and by constantly moving around at his own expense, has basically come to the point at which he can no longer earn a living. Such is the price paid by some of those who take a stand against crime in South Africa.
Of course, there’s worse. Three years ago, a hit team operating on orders from top gangsters inside Port Elizabeth’s St. Albans prison killed 40 witnesses in cases which involved gang members. The same newspaper which published the previous two accounts found out and contacted SAPS Crime Intelligence. The cops’ reply? “Don’t publish the story because it will frighten the witnesses.” I mean, really folks, cops seem only care that innocent people die so that they can close cases, get promoted and go home to nuke their dinner instead of doing their duty and protect those who are trying to help them!
After the story broke, a further 4 or 8 more witnesses were murdered. Once again, it’s not known what happened to the negligent cops, or even if there was an investigation.
Then two weeks ago, another newspaper published a story about how some Port Elizabeth Crime Intelligence cops were caught in August 2016 selling to some gangs intelligence on police operations and rival gangs’ activities. Apparently this included but was not limited to cell phone intercepts, and charges were provisionally withdrawn against one or two of the cops in what seems to be a plea-bargain arrangement.
So far, and it is by no means the end of the story of South Africa’s “democratic” security services’ long list of malfeasance, it has become clear that what is can not compare with what was. After all, when he was commander of the SAP’s Vlakplaas hit squad, then-Colonel Eugene “Prime Evil” de Kock strangled to death with his own hands an Askari (a turned black operative working for the government, kind of like those the Selous Scouts used in Rhodesia) who had the misfortune of losing his pistol during a raid in the township.
Furthermore, while I’ve heard a lot of wild stories about the apartheid era security situation, never did I hear of a single case in which SADF or SAP personnel sold weapons to the ANC or other such groups, yet here I am writing (and you reading) about police selling intelligence on their own people to their enemies. While they’re at it, these corrupt miscreants also sell confiscated guns and drugs to gangsters, in quantities sufficient to contribute significantly to South Africa’s crime problem and dissuade a lot of honest citizens who are in a position to help law enforcement from doing so because they might get sold down the river and killed.
Dear readers, please accept my apologies for not getting to the Domestic Branch (ex-NIA) and Military Intelligence like I promised, but it has turned out to be a longer story than I anticipated. I shall deal with those organizations in Part 3, next week, and hopefully also discuss how high-profile South African government figures are treated by the security establishment compared to the average Joe.