SA `dove' implicated in apartheid-era dirty tricks

From hawk to dove, declared a jubilant press two years ago when General Georg Meiring, leader of the apartheid government's war against the African National Congress, became part of the miracle of South Africa's peaceful transition.

Yesterday, in a previously suppressed report General Meiring - the man who in spite of his past was chosen by President Nelson Mandela to oversee the creation of a national defence force for the new South Africa - was implicated with more than 60 officers and soldiers in apartheid-era dirty tricks, including state-sponsored murder.

The revelation was made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which also suggested that former president FW de Klerk orchestrated a cover up while still in power in 1992 by refusing to investigate charges against General Meiring and two other generals, Kat Liebenberg and Joffel van der Westhuizen, despite the conclusions of an investigation by General Pierre Steyn.

General Steyn, then a lieutenant-general, was appointed by Mr de Klerk to investigate allegations that a shadowy Third Force was destabilising the country through covert violent operations designed to discredit and divide the liberation forces. He probed train violence, assassinations, gun running, drug smuggling and cross-border raids.

Instead of investigating the three generals, as General Steyn specifically recommended, Mr de Klerk asked them to take a look at Steyn's list and come up with one of their own. Twenty-three men were eventually sent packing. But yesterday's TRC announcement confirmed widespread suspicion that the purging of the old guard has been limited.

Charles Villa-Vicencio, the TRC's head of research, said General Steyn believed that during his investigations far more effort was expended by the armed forces and the police on covering up and identifying leaks than on gathering evidence. Despite explicit instructions, police and armed forces documents were destroyed.

Yesterday, Alex Boraine, the TRC's deputy chairman, said Mr de Klerk's actions at the time were extraordinary. "It seems a strange way to get at the truth," he added. He also said that the TRC now held the report Mr de Klerk had previously denied existed in written form.

Mr Boraine plans to hold talks with Defence Minister Joe Modise and General Meiring. "It will be interesting to hear what Mr de Klerk has to say when he appears before the commission later this year," he said.

A defence force spokesman said he could not comment on the charges against General Meiring until the force had had time to study the report.

A spokesman for Mr de Klerk said that the commission was making a deliberate attempt to damage de Klerk, who now leads the national party in opposition. He said the TRC's claims were seriously misleading and that Mr de Klerk did not have strong enough evidence to take drastic measures against the highest ranking officers at what was then a delicate stage in the transition process.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Special Needs Support Worker

£12 - £14 per hour: Recruitment Genius: We are looking for someone to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Content Assistant / Copywriter

£15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Sewing Technician

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in Medical Devices is...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence