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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Pretoria's men in Ciskei

By VUMILE NGCULA

The disinformation campaign that followed the Bisho massacre has tried to exempt the De Klerk government from any blame. Those behind the campaign either have very short memories, or they expect the rest of us to be extraordinarily gullible.

Just last year, in February, Brigadier Gqozo issued a statement that an agreement had been reached between the Ciskei government and the South African government. This agreement allowed Pretoria to appoint key ministers in the Ciskei government, and also senior officers in the Ciskei army and police.

As far the Ciskei security forces were concerned this agreement simply formalised what had, until then, in any case been a reality. Until the new agreement a CCB front company, International Research was virtually running Ciskei security. At its head was Anton Nieuwoudt, a colonel in the South African Defence Force. Nieuwoudt has also been linked to the secret SADF Hippo Camp in northern Namibia. This is the camp at which Inkatha assassination teams are alleged to have been trained.

Working with Nieuwoudt were Ted Brassels and Clive Brink. Brassels was a major in the SADF, based in East London and as staffofficer at the SADF's Group 8 headquarters in the 1980s. He also served as East London's deputy mayor in the 1970s. Clive Brink is attached to Military Intelligence (MI) and acted as the unit's technical man.

These three were netting between R130 000 - R140 000 a year with full benefits from Gqozo. In September 1990they bought BMWs at R190 000 each and requested that they be given registration numbers that would not be easy to remember.

After the shake-up last year, Gqozo's government and security force command structure were beefed up with a whole range of secondments from the SADF. At present:

Ø     The Finance Minister in the Ciskei is Vice Admiral William Bekker, seconded from the South African Navy;

Ø     The Commissioner of Ciskei Police is a seconded officer from the South African Police, General Johan Viktor. Viktor was once in charge of police operations in Soweto. He has been mentioned by Captain Dirk Coetzee as a former commander of Vlakplaas, the notorious hit squad training base. Viktor was seen and photographed at the Bisho massacre.

Ø     The Head of the Ciskei Defence Force is Brigadier Marius ("Mo") Oelschig. Oelschig has an extensive record in special operations and "low intensity" war. He was in Luanda, Angola in 1975. After the South African military attache staff in Angola were forced to leave in that year, he stayed behind to do covert, anti-MPLA work. He was at Cuito Cuanavale and in the so-called operational area in Namibia. He was one of the founders of the notorious Koevoet in 1979. According to the German magazine, Top Secret, it was to Oelschig that the head of the SADF Department of Military Intelligence, General CJ "Joffel" van der Westhuizen despatched a signal to use all force and "all means necessary" to crush the Bisho march

Ø     Oelschig's second in command is also a seconded officer from Pretoria - Colonel Dirk van der Bank.

Ø     The Chief of the CDF 's Military Intelligence is yet another secondment from the SADF. He is Colonel Ockert Swanepoel, and his deputy, likewise, is a seconded SADF officer, Chris Hendrik Nei.

Ø     The Chief of Staff - Operations and the person who was in direct command of the forces who opened fire at the Bisho massacre is Colonel Horst Schubesberger. He was previously a training officer in the CDF. Of Austrian origin, he served as an NCO in the Austrian army until 1963 and later he was an officer in the Austrian Territorial Army. In 1978 he joined the Rhodesian Army and became the commander of the Rhodesian Guard Force with the rank of major. From 1980-1983 he served as commander of 35 Infantry Battalion in the Zimbabwean National Army. Schubesberger has admitted that it was he who gave the orders to shoot at Bisho, but only after he had obtained directives "from a higher authority".

     On the Friday before the Monday massacre Schubesberger was seen surveying the place of the shooting with Colonel Jaco Roussouw. Roussouw was a Selous Scout in the former Rhodesia.

The command structures of the Ciskei security forces are absolutely dominated, then, by white officers most of whom have murky, covert war backgrounds. Most of them are also still directly on the Pretoria payroll, serving as seconded officers.

There are a number of other murky personalities in the Ciskei equation. Among them are those involved in the "African Democratic Movement" (an attempt to give Gqozo a civilian political party). The secretary general of the ADM is Basie Oosthuysen, a man with strong SADF MI links. He headed an MI front company called Dynamic Teaching in East London.

The SABC and government supporting newspapers have tried to present the Bisho massacre as yet another variant of "black on black violence", as yet another massacre in which Pretoria is an innocent bystander. Even a brief consideration of the command structures of the Ciskeian security and political machineries tells a very different story.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.