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?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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: Multi Skilled Engineer - Electrical / Mechanical / Maintenance

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A multi-skilled engineer with a...

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Service Engineer - Television & HI-FI

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer - Award Winning Agency

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada