SA generals under fire in army purge

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The Independent Online
CAPE TOWN - Senior generals are in the firing line in South Africa as President F W de Klerk takes on the military hawks hostile to his reform programme. But leaks to a leading Afrikaans newspaper yesterday suggested the purge of officers plotting to block the transition from white rule to democracy would leave the top men in place.

Mr de Klerk revealed at a rare news conference that an inquiry had uncovered security force plots against political reform. 'I think I can say that the findings will lead to the conclusion that some of the activities did lead to the deaths of people,' he said. 'Some of the activities and some of the individuals might have been motivated by a wish to prevent us from succeeding in our (reform) goals.'

President de Klerk said he had sacked or suspended 23 military officers, including two generals, and had ordered state prosecutors to lay charges wherever possible. Mr de Klerk postponed the identification of the people dismissed until they had been told, but newspapers speculated yesterday that the list could include top military and intelligence chiefs.

The Johannesburg Sunday Times named as likely candidates the military intelligence chief, Joffel van der Westhuizen, who is alleged to have signed a warrant for the assassination of a black activist, and Major-General Georg Meiring, the army chief of staff alleged to have authorised a covert plan in April to discredit the African National Congress (ANC).

'President de Klerk's actions, belated as they may be, signal an end to this reign of the . . . seditious samurai,' the newspaper said. But Rapport, a pro-government newspaper, named Hennie Roux, the chief of army intelligence staff, and Chris Thirion, his deputy, as the generals sacked on Saturday. The paper said that Kat Liebenberg, the defence force chief, Gen Meiring and Gen van der Westhuizen would not be sacrificed.

QUEENSTOWN - Police put an armed guard on every South African farm adjoining Lesotho yesterday after a teenage girl died and five whites were wounded in black attacks on whites, Reuter reports.