Britain quick to defend 'Mr Clean'

BRITISH officials, keen to preserve the image of President de Klerk as 'Mr Clean', said yesterday that he had given Britain his blessing to charge the two agents who plotted to kill a South African defector immediately after their arrest in London.

'We have been in pretty close touch with the South African government throughout, right up to De Klerk's level, and found ready agreement from him that the two should be arrested in the UK, and even charged if necessary,' said a British source. 'The only reason that proved impossible was because of insufficient evidence on the British side, so they were booted out instead.'

It was clear that Britain was making a point of emphasising the co-operation they had enjoyed from Mr de Klerk since the plot to assassinate a South African defector was uncovered in April. The emphasis on Mr de Klerk as 'Mr Clean' was especially crucial as the United Nations Security Council was meeting yesterday to debate international action on South Africa; Britain wants to prevent calls for sanctions and any intervention by the UN that Mr de Klerk does not want.

But publicity for an assassination attempt in Britain planned by serving South African security agents spotlights Mr de Klerk's lack of control. It provides the South African president with a test of his will - to bring the security forces under control by sacking key officers or call yet another inquiry and do little. Mr de Klerk's announcement that 32 Battalion, the veteran counter-insurgency unit of the South African Defence Force, would be disbanded will not calm ANC anger over the recent violence or draw them back to negotiating.

British attempts to protect Mr de Klerk were condemned at a conference on political violence in South Africa organised by the UN Special Committee against Apartheid and the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM). 'There is now enormous evidence of state complicity,' said Abdul Minty of the UN Special Committee. 'If De Klerk doesn't know what is going on then how can he negotiate South Africa's future, because he's clearly not in control.'

Mr Minty said that evidence of illegal behaviour by South African agents had not been acted upon because Western countries did not want to put Mr de Klerk under pressure. 'The right wing know that, so they continue to do whatever they like and De Klerk does nothing to stop them.'

Robert Hughes, chairman of the AAM, said he would ask the Government in parliament why the South African agents and their Irish contacts were not charged and what protest had been lodged with South Africa. 'I will also ask the Home Secretary to investigate South African security operations in the UK,' said Mr Hughes.

The conference called for international action to monitor and investigate political violence in South Africa and to force the South African government to take steps to stop the violence.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea