Col Lourens du Plessis, now retired from the South African Defence Force (SADF), testified through his lawyer at an inquest in Port Elizabeth that, on General van der Westhuizen's instructions, he had sent a signal to the State Security Council recommending the 'permanent removal from society' of Matthew Goniwe, his brother Mbulelo, and Fort Calata.
Twenty days after the signal was sent, on 27 June 1985, Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata and two other activists were brutally murdered outside Port Elizabeth. Goniwe was a charismatic regional leader who, it is widely believed, would have assumed a senior position in the ANC.
Counsel for Col du Plessis told the inquest court yesterday his client would testify to the authenticity of a signal document first made public by Johannesburg's New Nation newspaper in May last year. 'Col du Plessis will testify . . . that he drew it up on instruction from (then) Brigadier van der Westhuizen . . . and that it was an order that Matthew Goniwe, Mbulelo Goniwe and Fort Calata be killed,' his council said.
Unless the SADF can compellingly show that Col du Plessis, who is expected to give evidence today, is lying, President F W de Klerk will have no option but to dismiss the General and face a showdown with the SADF.
A judicial inquiry last year found military intelligence had engaged in a wide-ranging dirty tricks campaign against the ANC. General van der Westhuizen is known to have worked closely with a military intelligence agent, Captain Pamela du Randt, who was arrested last year by the British police on suspicion of involvement in a plot to kill a South African police defector in London.