'Keef' of Croydon stokes SA race fires: English immigrant who heads AWB's 'Iron Guard' could be deported

FRIDAY 10am. A contingent of far-right Afrikaner separatists had seized Johannesburg's World Trade Centre, forcing some of South Africa's most prominent political leaders - the constitutional negotiators - to barricade themselves inside a government office.

Some 2,000 heavily armed men and women in paramilitary uniform stood outside the building, bellowing for blood and Boerestaat, the longed-for independent homeland. Another 400 were inside, having stormed in after an armoured car crashed through the main entrance.

At the breach stood a heavily bearded man in black. He had a gun in one hand and a walkie- talkie in the other. 'Charlie One to Charlie Two. Over. Charlie One to Charlie Two. Come in please. Over.' He was speaking English, in the circumstances a language that would have been only marginally less out of place among the Serbian troops besieging Sarajevo.

Still more curious, the man was speaking not South African but, unmistakably, south London English. Closer inspection - the black beard was much bushier than at its last public airing - revealed this was Keith Conroy from Croydon, right- hand man of the AWB's (Afrikaner Resistance Movement) Eugene Terre-Blanche and Kommandant of the anti-Jewish, anti-black, anti-Communist, neo-Nazi organisation's elite unit, the 'Iron Guard'.

Mr Conroy - 'Just call me Keef. All right?' - was in no mood to speak to reporters. Not only was he too busy trying to keep discipline among his men - some of whom were urinating on the carpet of the main negotiating chamber upstairs - he has not been particularly well disposed towards the press since an article appeared in the Independent on Sunday last year quoting him as saying that the Boers were too hesitant, too individualistic, too unwilling to fight together against the black Communist menace. He is also afraid, as he recently told a British television crew, that he might be deported.

His fear could soon come true. His photograph appeared in Johannesburg's Sunday papers among four others of right-wingers sought by the police in connection with Friday's events. Yesterday the South African police, under heavy pressure to make up for their omissions on Friday, said they had arrested at least 21 AWB supporters. But they refused to reveal the names until each had appeared in court - which is expected to happen within the next 48 hours.

The AWB issued a statement yesterday complaining, in a manner more commonly associated with the ANC, about the ill-treatment meted out to their members, some of whom the police had arrested in the most 'humiliating' ways. There had been several assaults, women 'officers' were being held in a police station in Soweto, parents had been taken away in the middle of the night with no provision made for the care of their children, the AWB said.

The man who has had most to complain about so far in connection with Friday's insurrection is not, however, an AWB member. He is not even white. Alfred Zwane was the only man arrested that day near the World Trade Centre. His crime was to have parked his car illegally.

A driver for the Johannesburg Star, he stopped alongside a highway - where dozens of cars belonging to the right-wing stormtroopers were also parked - to pick up a photographer's film. Mr Zwane, who refused to move when ordered to do so, was verbally abused by traffic officers, bundled into a police van, taken to a police station and kept in the van for three hours.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Environment
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London