Civil Cooperation Bureau

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The South African Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) was a government-sponsored hit squad[1] during the apartheid era that operated under the authority of Defence Minister General Magnus Malan. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee pronounced the CCB guilty of numerous killings, and suspected more killings.[2][3][4][5]

Forerunners and contemporaries[edit]

When South African newspapers first revealed its existence in the late 1980s, the CCB appeared to be a unique and unorthodox security operation: its members wore civilian clothing; it operated within the borders of the country; it used private companies as fronts; and it mostly targeted civilians. However, as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) discovered a decade later, the CCB's methods were neither new nor unique. Instead, they had evolved from precedents set in the 1960s and 70s by Eschel Rhoodie’s Department of Information (see Muldergate Scandal[6]), the Bureau of State Security (B.O.S.S.)[7] and Project Barnacle (a top-secret project to eliminate SWAPO detainees and other "dangerous" operators).[8]

From information given to the TRC by former agents seeking amnesty for crimes committed during the apartheid era, it became clear that there were many other covert operations similar to the CCB, which Nelson Mandela would label the Third Force. These operations included Wouter Basson’s 7 Medical Battalion Group,[9] the Askaris, Witdoeke, and C1/C10 or Vlakplaas.

Besides these, there were also political front organizations like the International Freedom Foundation, Marthinus van Schalkwyk's Jeugkrag (Youth for South Africa),[10] and Russel Crystal's National Student Federation[11] which would demonstrate that while the tactics of the South African government varied, the logic remained the same: Total onslaught demanded a total strategy.[12]

Establishment[edit]

Inaugurated in 1986 with the approval of General Magnus Malan,[13][14] the CCB became fully functional by 1988.

In his 1997 submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,[15] General Malan described the CCB as follows:

"15.1 Let me now deal with the matter of the CCB. The CCB-organization as a component of Special Forces was approved in principle by me. Special Forces was an integral and supportive part of the South African Defence Force. The role envisaged for the CCB was the infiltration and penetration of the enemy, the gathering of information and the disruption of the enemy. The CCB was approved as an organization consisting of ten divisions, or as expressed in military jargon, regions. Eight of these divisions or regions were intended to refer to geographical areas. The area of one of these regions, Region Six, referred to the Republic of South Africa. The fact that the organization in Region Six was activated, came to my knowledge for the first time in November 1989. The CCB provided the South African Defence Force with good covert capabilities. 15.2 During my term of office as Head of the South African Defence Force and as Minister of Defence instructions to members of the South African Defence Force were clear: destroy the terrorists, their bases and their capabilities. This was also government policy. As a professional soldier, I issued orders and later as Minister of Defence I authorised orders which led to the death of innocent civilians in cross-fire. I sincerely regret the civilian casualties, but unfortunately this is part of the ugly reality of war. However, I never issued an order or authorised an order for the assassination of anybody, nor was I ever approached for such authorization by any member of the South African Defence Force. The killing of political opponents of the government, such as the slaying of Dr Webster, never formed part of the brief of the South African Defence Force."

Reports about the CCB were first published in 1990 by the now-defunct weekly Vrye Weekblad, and more detailed information emerged later in the 1990s at a number of TRC amnesty hearings. General Joep Joubert, in his testimony before the TRC, revealed that the CCB was a long-term special forces project in the South African Defence Force. It had evolved from the 'offensive defence' philosophy prevalent in P.W. Botha's security establishment.[16]

Nominally a civilian organisation that could be plausibly disowned by the apartheid government, the CCB drew its operatives from the SADF itself or the South African Police. According to Joubert, many operatives did not know that they were members of an entity called the CCB.[17]

In the wake of the National Party government's Harms Commission, whose proceedings were considered seriously flawed by analysts and the official opposition, the CCB was disbanded in August 1990.[18] Some members were transferred to other security organs.[19] No prosecutions resulted.

Structure[edit]

The CCB consisted of four groups with different functions:[20] an executive, a management board, two staff functions, eight operational sections known as regions, and an ad hoc collection of contractors.

The executive[edit]

There is much dispute about what senior military officers knew when. However it is common cause that the CCB was a unit of special forces at first controlled by the General Officer Commanding Special Forces, Major-General Eddie Webb[21][22] who reported to the Chief of the SADF.

The management board[edit]

The CCB operated as a civilian entity, so it had a chairman of the board and a group of 'directors'. The GOC Special Forces – Major General Joep Joubert (1985–89) followed by Major General Eddie Webb from the beginning of 1989 - was the chairman. The rest of the board included Joe Verster (managing director), Dawid Fourie (deputy MD), WJ Basson, Theuns Kruger, and Lafras Luitingh.

The staff functions[edit]

Although there is consistent evidence that the CCB had two staff functions[21] it is not clear what the names of these groups were and whether these remained the same over the life of the CCB. Region 9, is sometimes referred to as Intelligence or Psychological Warfare and elsewhere as Logistics. Region 10 is known as Finance and Administration or simply Administration.[23]

The operational sections[edit]

Each region had an area manager and its own co-ordinator who reported to the managing director.

  • Region 1: Botswana - regional manager up to 1988 was Commandant Charl Naudé and thereafter Dawid Fourie, while Christoffel Nel handled the intelligence function.
  • Region 2: Mozambique and Swaziland - the manager was Commandant Corrie Meerholtz until the end of 1988. He was replaced by the operational co-ordinator, Captain Pieter Botes. while the intelligence function was performed by Peter Stanton, one of the few remaining ex-Rhodesians from the D40 and Barnacle eras.
  • Region 3: Lesotho - Fourie was also the manager in region 3.
  • Region 4: Angola, Zambia and Tanzania - Dawid Fourie was also responsible, taking it over in 1988 from Meerholtz. Christoffel Nel handled the intelligence function while Ian Strange was also involved in this region.
  • Region 5: International/Europe – Johan Niemoller appears to have been coordinator. In 1987, he was suddenly withdrawn following the arrest of a number of individuals living in England on charges of plotting to kill ANC leaders. Eeben Barlow, the founder of the private military company, Executive Outcomes, then took command of Region 5.[24]
  • Region 6: South Africa - formed on 1 June 1988; Staal Burger was regional manager; operatives included 'Slang' Van Zyl, Chappies Maree and Calla Botha. The TRC later receives eight amnesty applications related to four operations: 1) the attempted killing of Abdullah Omar, 2) the planned killing of Gavin Evans, 3) bombing of the Early Learning Centre in Athlone Cape Town on 31 August 1989, 4) the harassment of Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town in 1989.
  • Region 7: Zimbabwe - Various CCB members co-ordinated this region including WJ Basson and Lafras Luitingh. Others involved in sub-management were Ferdi Barnard (for a brief period) and Alan Trowsdale. Kevin Woods and three members of a CCB cell, Barry Bawden, Philip Conjwayo and Michael Smith conducted a Bulawayo bombing action.
  • Region 8: South West Africa - headed by Roelf van Heerden.

Unknown region: Operated by ex S.A.D.F. members. Some names were: Micks MC Cloud(aka:Ausie) Schalk Van Der Merwe(aka:William Reid,Morise Morris,Reson)

Blue plans and red plans[edit]

Operatives were required to have a 'blue plan'. This referred to a front operation (mostly a business) funded by the CCB. Slang Van Zyl, for instance, started a private investigation business while Chappies Maree ran an electronic goods export company called Lema. Operatives were allowed to keep the proceeds of their activities.[25]

Red plans, on the other hand, detailed the activities they would undertake against the enemy. Operations could be of a criminal nature as long as they had prior approval from the CCB bureaucracy. These mostly began with a feasibility study. If the report showed merit it was verified, then reviewed by a panel of five: the operative, the manager or handler, the coordinator, the managing director and in the case of violent operations, the chairman. Where loss of life was anticipated the chairman was required to obtain approval from the Chief of the Army or the Chief of Staff.[25]

Known and suspected operations[edit]

To date there is no published record covering all operations conducted during the CCB's five-year existence. It is estimated[who?] that 85-100 active operations were conducted, including:

Operations planned but not executed[edit]

According to TRC records,[46][47][48] CCB operatives were tasked to seriously injure Martti Ahtisaari, UN Special Representative in Namibia,[49] and to eliminate the following:

Known associates[edit]

While the CCB was a section of the SADF's Special Forces they were joined on many operations by individuals from other parts of the state's broad security apparatus,[51] sometimes making it difficult to ascertain whether a specific person was part of the CCB or not. Of the estimated one hundred covert members, evidence exists that the following individuals were deployed as administrators or operatives:[52]

Senior military decision-makers[edit]

  • Magnus Malan - General, Minister of Defence (1980–1991)
  • Jannie Geldenhuys - General, and Chief of the SADF (1985–1990)[53]
  • Joep Joubert - held the rank of major general, Chairman of the management board (1985–89)
  • Kat Liebenberg - General, and Chief of the SADF (1991–1993)
  • Eddie Webb - held the rank of major general, Chairman of the management board (1989–1990)
  • Pieter Johan Verster - mostly known as 'Joe' Verster, aliases 'Gerhard',[54] 'Dave Martin', 'Jack van Staden' and 'Rick van Staden', held the rank of colonel, CCB Managing Director or general manager

Operatives and associates[edit]

  • Donald Dolan Acheson - an Irish mercenary nicknamed 'The Cleaner'[55]
  • Eeben Barlow - also referred to incorrectly as "Eeban Barlow", intelligence operative, ex-member of 32 Battalion and at one point commander of Region 5[56]
  • Ferdi Barnard - prominent Region 6 operative, convicted and jailed in 1998 for the murder of David Webster[57]
  • Wouter Jacobus Basson - alias Christo Britz, one time coordinator of the Zimbabwe unit, not to be confused with his cousin Dr. Wouter Basson [58]
  • Johannes Basson [59]
  • Barry Bawden - cousin of Kit and Gary, Region 4 operative and member of Zimbabwe-based CCB cell known as Juliet[60]
  • Guy Bawden - brother of Kit, Region 4 operative and member of Zimbabwe-based CCB cell known as Juliet[60]
  • Kit Bawden - Region 4 operative and head of Zimbabwe-based CCB cell known as Juliet[60]
  • Petrus Foster Botes - alias Bobby Greeff,[51] held the rank of captain
  • Carl Casteling Botha - nicknamed Calla, a one time forward for the Transvaal rugby team[61]
  • Gray Branfield - alias major Brian, and Mr. Z,[62] killed 2004 in Kut, Iraq during a gunfight between Shi'ite radicals and Ukrainian forces[63]
  • Phillip Conjwayo - Zimbabwean policeman, Region 4 operative and peripheral member of Zimbabwe-based CCB cell known as Juliet[60]
  • José Daniels – CCB operator working for Petrus Botes, in the period just prior to the first democratic elections in Namibia, was instructed to dump four bottles containing cholera bacterium into the water supply of a camp near Windhoek[64]
  • Daniel du Toit Burger - also referred to as Daniël Ferdinand du Toit,[65] alias Staal (meaning steel in Afrikaans) Burger also the name of an Afrikaans radio comedy of the time,[66] held the rank of colonel, erstwhile owner of the Breakers Hotel in Berea, Johannesburg [1] and minder of a state-funded brothel [2], recruited into the CCB by Verster on 1 June 1988 after vacating his position as head of the SAP's Brixton Murder and Robbery Unit [3]
  • Trevor Mark Floyd[4] - testified in the trial of Wouter Basson that he smeared poisonous ointment received from Basson [5] on the door handle of the car belonging to Peter Kalangula; Basson denied the allegation; Implicated in the same trial by Danie Phaal, a Project Barnacle colleague, of murdering a fellow operator known only as Christopher in February 1983 [6]
  • Dawid Fourie - alias 'Heine Müller', held the rank of commandant and one time deputy head of the CCB[67]
  • Edward James Gordon - nicknamed 'Peaches', informer, involved in the attempt on the life of Dullah Omar [7]
  • [Gordon Proudfoot] - Special Forces operative associate of Ferdi Barnard [8]
  • André Wilhelmus Groenewald - alias Kobus Pienaar [9]
  • Isgak Hardien - nicknamed Gakkie, an informer and gangster based in the Western Cape who earned R18,000 for placing a limpet mine on the premises of the Early Learning Centre [10]
  • Theodore Hermansen[11]
  • André Klopper[12]
  • Koos - CCB medical coordinator, who received, on the instructions of Wouter Basson, 16 bottles containing the cholera bacterium on 4 August 1989, and six more twelve days later from Dr. A. Immelman of Roodeplaat Research Laboratories[64]
  • David Komansky, (not to be confused with the Merrill Lynch executive of the same name) a commodities broker from Johannesburg who received R29 million from the CCB to establish a business in Britain for procuring arms.[68]
  • Theuns Kruger - alias 'Jaco Black', financial manager
  • Kobus le Roux implicated with Ferdi Barnard in the plot to kill Ahtisaari[30]
  • Jackie Lonte - recruited to deal with United Democratic Front supporters, founder of the 10,000 strong Cape Flats gang 'The Americans'
  • Hans Louw[13] [14] - claimed he belonged to a squad which plotted to kill president Samora Machel
  • Lafras Luitingh - held the rank of major, one time coordinator of Zimbabwe unit[69]
  • Leon André Maree - nickname ‘Chappies’ (also the name of a popular South African chewing gum)
  • Cornelius Alwyn Johannes Meerholz - nicknamed Corrie, alias 'Kerneels Koekemoer', held the rank of commandant, after transferring to 5 Reconnaissance Regiment
  • Tai Minnaar[15] - once held the rank of major-general in the SADF, founder member of the Bureau of State Security, had been a CIA operative in 1970s Cuba[70]
  • Mr C - operated in Mozambique and Swaziland, once delivered a parcel to Windhoek on behalf of Pieter (most likely Petrus) Botes [16]
  • Mr R - alias 'Frans Brink', medical doctor, member until the beginning of 1990 [17]
  • Edwin Mudingi, former Selous Scout member of the same cell as Hans Louw[71]
  • Christoffel Nel - alias 'Derek Louw', held the rank of colonel, one time head of intelligence unit [40][67]
  • Johan Niemoller, jr. - also referred to as Joseph Niemoller, until 1987 coordinator of (European and International) unit
  • Nico Palm[18] - foreign operative, involved in the CCB front company Geo International Trading as an explosives expert
  • Danie Phaal[19] - or DJ Phaal,[64] CCB head of security, also known as Frank, James or Johan
  • Jao Pinta - involved in the murder of Florence and Fabian Ribeiro[20]
  • Ruiz da Silva - involved in the murder of Florence and Fabian Ribeiro[21]
  • Eugene Riley[22] - also referred to as Eugene Reilly
  • Noel Robey - involved in the murder of Florence and Fabian Ribeiro[23]
  • Michael Smith - ex-Rhodesian soldier, Region 4 operative and member of Zimbabwe-based CCB cell known as Juliet [24]
  • Migiel Sven Smuts-Muller - ex-31 Battalion member [25]
  • Peter Stanton - ex-Rhodesian, intelligence operative[67]
  • Pierre Theron - auditor of CCB books and keeper of share transfer certificates for related front companies [26]
  • Ian Strange - alias Rodney, involved in the Angola, Zambia and Tanzania region [67]
  • Alan Trowsdale [67]
  • Charles Wildschudt (formerly Neelse)[67]
  • Stefaans van der Walt - alias Anton du Randt [27]
  • Willie van Deventer - claimed membership of CCB, and to have been part of the Gaborone raid in which ANC member, Matsela Pokolela, was killed [28]
  • Roelf van Heerden - alias 'Roelf van der Westhuizen', one time head of South West Africa operations[67]
  • Ferdi van Wyk[72] - Brigadier, also named as the Military Intelligence contact used by Marthinus van Schalkwyk in the covert funding of the front organization Jeugkrag[73]
  • Abram van Zyl - aliases 'Thinus de Wet'[74] and 'Andries Rossouw', nickname 'Slang' (pronounced 'slung', means snake in Afrikaans), responsible for the Western Cape operations of Region Six, and for Ferdi Barnard; left the CCB in October 1989
  • Leonard Veenendal[29]
  • Athol Visser[30] - nickname 'Ivan the Terrible', a high-ranking CCB operative, posted to London in the 1980s to plan the elimination of key opponents of apartheid that allegedly included Swedish prime minister Olof Palme.
  • Gary Strout - Region 4 operative and member of Zimbabwe-based CCB cell known as Juliet[60]

Associates who died mysteriously[edit]

Truth and Reconciliation Commission[edit]

Although the entire truth about the Civil Cooperation Bureau may never be known, South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission(TRC) concluded that:[78]

"...the CCB was a creation of the SADF and an integral part of South Africa’s counter-insurgency system which, in the course of its operations, perpetrated gross violations of human rights, including killings, against both South African and non-South African citizens. The Commission finds that the activities of the CCB constituted a systematic pattern of abuse which entailed deliberate planning on the part of the leadership of the CCB and the SADF. The Commission finds these institutions and their members accountable for the aforesaid gross violations of human rights."

As per the policy of the TRC, its findings were set out, but no action was taken.

According to General Malan, the CCB's three objectives — comparable to those of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) — were:

  • to infiltrate and penetrate the enemy;
  • to gather Information; and
  • to disrupt the enemy.

In his testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Malan declared that he had never issued an order or authorised an order for the assassination of anybody, and that the killing of political opponents of the government never formed part of the brief of the South African Defence Force.[79]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Author unknown. (1998). A self-confessed apartheid era assassin told the Pretoria High Court yesterday that he did not apply for amnesty for his deeds, with one exception, because he believed his seniors, who gave him the orders, were the ones who should be punished. Business Day.
  3. ^ Peter Batchelor, Kees Kingma, Guy Lamb (2004), Demilitarisation and Peace-building in Southern Africa, Ashgate Publishing Ltd, ISBN 0-7546-3315-2, retrieved 18 May 2008 
  4. ^ Author unknown. (1998). Former Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB) agent Ferdi Barnard has admitted for the first time to murdering activist and academic David Webster in 1989 on instructions of then bureau head, Joe Verster. Business Day.
  5. ^ SAPA. (1999). Joubert authorises car bomb that killed Piet Ntuli.
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