African Oral Narratives
Military Intelligence in Apartheid-era South Africa

State Security

In the 1970s, rising militancy and political violence saw the National Party government became increasingly preoccupied with security. A powerful state security apparatus was set up to protect the state. During the 1980s, the States of Emergency (martial law), managed by State President P. W. Botha's circle of generals and police chiefs, gave police and the military sweeping powers.

The regime censored the media, banned many organizations and placed many individuals under house arrest. Detention without trial became common, resulting in the imprisonment of 30,000 people by 1988. Political activists were brutally interrogated and tortured. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) replaced the South African Bureau for State Security in 1980, and became responsible for national security. Following South Africa's first democratic elections, both the South African Secret Service and National Intelligence Agency were created as part of the Intelligence Act of 1994.

This colour image of former South African president PW Botha, commonly known as 'Die Groot Krokodil' (Afrikaans for 'The Big Crocodile'), is one of a series of rare photographs taken by photographer Doug Lee of PW Botha in his old age at his homestead, Die Anker, in May 2003.
This interview with Chris Thirion, a former deputy chief of staff intelligence of the SADF, regarding the cause of events leading up to the dismissal of senior officers in the SADF by FW de Klerk in 1992, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with Colonel Lucas Ras, a former colonel in the SAP Security Branch's D branch unit, regarding Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) informants, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
An interview with Colonel Lucas Ras, a former colonel in the SAP Security Branch's D branch unit, regarding far right-wing activities, how effective they were and how they were infiltrated by the security police, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with Colonel Lucas Ras, a former colonel in the SAP Security Branch's D branch unit, regarding interrogation techniques used by the security police, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with Detective Warrant Officer Drummond Hammond who was attached to the organised crime unit's intelligence unit, regarding the intelligence networks running from South Africa to the neighbouring countries, and about "Dad" (Steve Burnett), consists of an audio recording and transcript. This interview was conducted as one interview, and transcribed in two parts by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2010.
This interview with General Herman Stadler, a former head of the SAP Security Branch Intelligence Unit, regarding Dieter Gerhardt's arrest as a Russian spy, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with General Johann van der Merwe, a former commissioner of the SAP, regarding the poisoning of Rev. Frank Chikane in 1987, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with General Tienie Groenewald, a former chief director of Military Intelligence, regarding the establishment of the Volksfront (People's Front), consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with General Tienie Groenewald, a former chief director of Military Intelligence, regarding the threat of civil war at the beginning of 1994 before the country's first democratic elections, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with Henk Heslinga, a former head of the Pretoria murder and robbery squad, double agent, and member of the Goldstone Commission, regarding the allegations against Winnie Mandela for her alleged involvement in the death of her personal physician, Dr Abubaker Asvat in 1989, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with Henk Heslinga, a former head of the Pretoria murder and robbery squad, double agent, and member of the Goldstone Commission, regarding the assassination of the former moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church, professor Johan Heyns, on November 5, 1994, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with Henk Heslinga, a former head of the Pretoria murder and robbery squad, double agent, and member of the Goldstone Commission, regarding his involvement in the Goldstone Commission's invesitigations in 1992, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with Vic McPherson, a former undercover policeman in the SAP Security Branch, regarding his involvement in the Security Branch, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with Vic McPherson, a former undercover policeman in the SAP Security Branch, regarding the bombing of the ANC offices in Lusaka on June 5, 1985, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This interview with Vic McPherson, a former undercover policeman in the SAP Security Branch, regarding his, and other agents', involvement in the London bomb in 1982, consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This is the first part of an interview with Inspector Joppie van Staden, a former police inspector attached to the bomb disposal unit, regarding the riot squad, Unit 19, and consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
This colour image of FW de Klerk is one of a series of images taken by photographer Doug Lee of president FW de Klerk before a television interview at the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1994. De Klerk was the South African president at the time of the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994.
This colour image of General Tienie Groenewald, former chief director of military intelligence, is one of a series of images taken by photograhper Doug Lee of a meeting between General Groenewald, Magnus Malan (former minister of defence), General Constand Viljoen (former chief of the SADF and leader of the Afrikaner Volksfront) and Colonel Jan Breytenbach on September 6, 1997.
This colour image of Generals Magnus Malan (former minister of defence) and Constand Viljoen (former chief of the SADF and leader of the Volksfront) shaking hands at a meeting, is one of a series of images taken by photographer Doug Lee at a meeting between the latter with General Tienie Groenewald and Colonel Jan Breytenbach on September 6, 1997.
This is the second part of the interview with Inspector Joppie van Staden, a former police inspector attached to the bomb disposal unit, regarding the riot squad, Unit 19, and consists of an audio recording, transcript and English translation. This interview was conducted, transcribed and translated by De Wet Potgieter on behalf of SAHA in 2009.
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