The secret war against the Afrikaners
Piet Swanepoel questions the motives of British jingoes who claimed to be fighting apartheid
Piet Swanepoel | 30 July 2012 | Politicsweb
At least two Two books have now been published with the sub-title "The Secret War Against Apartheid" (White Lies and London Recruits). The first one deserves to be read, if for no other reason than to realize what vast amounts of money were pumped into this war. But I have a problem with the sub-titles.
It is true that these would-be heroes fought in secret, but they did not fight against apartheid - they fought against my people, the despised Boers, the Hairybacks, the Rockspiders. It's a good thing that they start telling their stories, but there is a lot which still has to be revealed about the real secret war. In the following paragraphs readers will be reminded of details which are never shouted from the rooftops.
The real secret war against apartheid" did not commence on the 16th December, 1961 when Mkhonto we Sizwe (MK) detonated its first bomb. The war started secretly years earlier and it was not instigated by the African leader, Mr Nelson Mandela of the ANC - it was launched by white Jingoes who were not motivated by the noble ideal of fighting for human rights, but instead were hell-bent to prevent the country from being turned into a Republic, and after it became a Republic, to destroy the Afrikaners who ruled it.
These Jingoes had originally been active in the Torch Commando, a rowdy flag-waving bunch, but by the late fifties they were organized in a secret organization, which they called the Horticulturalists. The writer, M.Coghlan, described them as as,"a highly secretive, para-military organisation ... (with) a pyramidal cell-structure". They referred to themselves as "The Group".
The Group very seriously considered the possibility of Natal seceding from the rest of the country by force and retaining membership of the British Commonwealth. To gauge British support for such a step they sent a delegation to the British High Commissioner, Sir John Maud, who told them that such a move would require them to extend the franchise to all the people of Natal. This, the Jingoes were not prepared to do and so the secession scheme was abandoned.
The Group's main activity in Natal was the illegal broadcasting on Sunday evenings of revolutionary propaganda against the government. They called this their Freedom Radio. One of their most active leaders was John George Fraser Lang, an attorney who was described as a member of a very prominent South African family.
According to Magnus Gunther, a self-confessed member of the National Committee of Liberation (NCL), the Group ceased to exist after some of their members were arrested in May 1961 for being in possession of explosives.
In reality they did not cease to exist, they had already become part of the NCL and in the process they had taken it over. What these heroes had come to realise was that fighting in support of the Union Jack in South Africa would not get them anywhere. Pretending to fight for political rights for Black Africans, on the other hand, would gain them the support of a vast mass of black people.
All that was required was that these hitherto peaceful people had to be taught that a violent overthrow of the Afrikaners was necessary. So they set about guiding the Africans into that direction. And they were very successful.
Muriel Horrel of the South African Institute of Race Relations wrote of it as follows in in an article entitled Action, Reaction and Counter-Action:
At the Rivonia Trial in 1964 the Deputy Attorney-General for the Transvaal stated that, after it had been banned, the ANC went underground. Some of its members decided to embark on a policy of violence and destruction in order to achieve their political aims. The Spear of the Nation was formed for this purpose, as the military wing of the ANC.
It operated under the guidance of the National Committee for Liberation, a multi-racial body formed in 1962, allegedly led by communists. The High Command was located in Johannesburg, with regional and sub-regional committees and cells under it. A "Freedom Radio" was operated from Rivonia, Johannesburg and from Cape Town...
Some of those who were named in court, later, as members of the National Committee for Liberation escaped overseas too; among them were D.E.Montague Berman "who was stated to have founded the organization', Randolph Vigne, John G.F.Lang and Neville Rubin".
In reality these men were not communists. Berman was sometimes described as a former communist, but the other three were well-off whites, who, to hoodwink Africans, pushed something called African socialism.
All three, in addition to their revolutionary activities, were involved in publishing the New African, a radical journal by means of which Africans were incited to revolt against the government. In this enterprise they were financed by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) via a conduit, the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF).
Explicit details of how exactly the men of the NCL guided Mr. Mandela and his colleagues were not brought to the notice of the public during the Rivonia Trial because these details were a tightly held secret. They only became known to the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in 1974 when it was given an 8-page document by a senior detective who had been involved, after July 1964, in the investigation of the acts of sabotage committed by NCL members.
This document, which Magnus Gunther called the Lang memorandum, is one of the most revealing accounts of how the secret war against the Afrikaners was financed and launched.
In his essay about the National Committee of Liberation, which later changed its name to the African Resistance Movement (ARM), Gunher went out of his way to dismiss the Lang memorandum as"an extraordinary mixture of fact and fancy and contains considerable exaggeration as to what the NCL had achieved, plus astonishing claims for more equipment".(The Road to Democacy in South Africa,Vol .1 p.218).
Significantly Gunther only quoted one line from this document and completely ignored the bulk of the revelations contained in it. In the seventies NIS did its best, with the limited information at its disposal, to check on the truth of many of the assertions contained in it and satisfied itself that it was a true account of what these people had done.
In the following paragraphs some of the revelations in the Lang document will be listed. Readers who wish to read the entire document can look it up in the book, Really Inside Boss... (pp.141-153), which is accessible on the internet through Google Books (see here).
The Lang memorandum does not contain the name of its author or the party to whom it was submitted. There can, however, be no doubt that it was drawn up by John lang. At the top of the document the dollowing words were written in long hand: "ex-MI5 documents". NIS asked brigadier Fred Van Niekerk, from whom it obtaind it, whether this note meant that it came from MI5, but he claimed that he could not recall who had given it to him.
At the time it was given to him the investigations into the acts of sabotage had been cppleted, so it was not considered necessary to pursue further the informaton contained in the document. He did not even include it in a docket. He just stuck it in a drawer in his desk!
From the contents it is clear that the document was written after the 1st of July 1961, but before the 7th August 1961. Basically the document is a report by a group of revolutionaries to the party which financed them with the sum of £25 000 with which to launch the war against theSouth African government.
The author described himself and his associates as "The Group"and set out how this money was spent. (£25 000 in 1961 must have been the equivalent of many millions of rands today. Magnus Gunther tried to convince his readers that the money was provided by the government of Ghana. He cited as proof of this a reference by Geoffrey Bing, the Ghanese Attorney General, to £50 000 which had been given to an individual to pay for charter flights for people fleeing from South Africa. But Bing did not say that the government of Ghana gave the money. He said he knew of such an amount and added that his wife was also involved. In Herbstein's White Lies we read that Mrs. Bing was given £10 000 on one occasion by Canon Collins for this purpose. It is quite likely that she was given another £40 000 on other occasions).
1.Carriers. The first major purchases were carriers to convey persons and explosives.
These were a Piper Comanche aircraft which was bought for £8,896 and a sea-going motor vessel, the Torquil, for which £8,000 was paid. The sum of £1,370 was spent to copperbottom the vessel and to equip it with extra fuel tanks.
Two front companies were registered in London to act as owners of the carriers and of properties to be acquired for the group. The companies were Brijit Transport Limited and Delia Propoerties Limited. According to the document the reason for the registration of the companies was that "the equipment would not be connected with the true owners".
NIS's enquiries revealed that these companies had indeed been registered in London. The registration date was June 16th 1961. The two persons listed as subscribers were Anthony Rampton, a wealthy businessman from Petersham, Surrey and Alexander Warnock Filson from Richmond, Surrey. Filson was a secretary of the Fabian Society. The secretary of both companies was Paul Di Biase of London.
On April 4th, 1962 the subscribers resigned and were replaced by Anthony Champion de Cráspigny (sic) and Caroline McNaghton. On October 20th 1962 these two in turn resigned and were replaced by John George Fraser Lang and Brenda Lang.
The file on the Brijit Company indicated that a mortgage was raised and registered by the company on the M.V. Torquil on the 5th February 1963.
(In 1976 Anthony Richard Champion de Crespigny, then professor of Political Science at the University of Cape Town, commenced making public statements in support of seperate development. He gained the confidence of State President P.W.Botha. In his application for South African citizenship he claimed to be performing secret work for the president.
On October 2nd, 1980 Botha appointed him to the President's Council, a multi-racial body replacing the Senate. He became the leading figure in the Constitutional Committee which drafted the proposals for the creation of the tricameral parliament. This was to lead to a split in the National Party and the creation of the Conservative party.
Some time after de Crespigny's appointment it occurred to NIS that he might be identical to the person who once owned the Torquil. However, there were a number of factors tending to indicate that he was not the same person. To clear up the uncertainty NIS initially met socially with de Crespigny and gave him repeated opportunities to talk about London in the sixties and about people like Lang and about a ship and an aeroplane and about companies set up to own such things.
All to no avail. He was a nice man to party with, but he peferred not to dwell on the old days.NIS then continued making enquiries and discovered that a witness at his wedding in London in 1954 had been one Caroline McNaghton.
So now NIS believed that he probably was the subscriber to the Brijit and Delia companies. He was interrogated in depth, but pretended not to remember anything, not even events which occurred only two years previously. He admitted that his C.V's and application for a post at the University of Cape Town contained untruths and two or three days after the interrogation he fled the country).
2. Financing Extra-parliamentary Organizations.
The Group gave the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) £500 each. It also spent £1,000 in organizing a Cape Coloured Convention. This united the various Coloured groups in opposition to the government. Next it spent £1,000 on air fares when one of its representatives organised a gathering of all the organizations and groups opposed to the National party.
The meeting decided to work for a National Convention and to this end a working cmmittee was set up. Those invited included a group of Dutch Reformed ministers who had represented the Church at the World Council of Churches at Cottesloe and who had become a dissident group opposed to the government. It was believed that this gathering would lead to the "overthrow of Verwoerd and his government".
The NIS found that this gathering had indeed been held in secret in Johannesburg on the 1st of July 1961. Invitations to participants had been sent on behalf of Mr. G.H.R.Edmunds, the chairman of South African Associated Newspapers, which controlled the Rand Daily Mail, the Sunday Times, the Sunday Express, the Eastern Province Herald and the Evening Post.
Only one small newspaper, Post, carried a report on the meeting. The story in its issue of 2 July 1961 was headed "Secret Talks begin - All races invited to Rand parley." (In Long Walk to Freedom Mr. Mandela wrote that in March 1961 the "National Working Committee" had met secretly to decide on strategy. It was decided that he was "to go undergroud to travel about the country organizing the proposed national convention"p.303-4).
3. Influencing ANC leaders to embark on a course of violence and direct action against the government.
One activity of the Group in 1960 and early 1961 was the "kidnapping"of African tribal leaders who had been banished from their tribes after taking part in anti-government activities.These people were, with one exception, all taken clandestinely to the present Lesotho. Mention is made in the document of one such trip during which a horse fell on the vehicle they were using.
Gunther, also referring to an incident when an NCL vehicle collided with a horse, states that it happened on a return journey from Lesotho in January 1961. Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu were passengers in the vehicle. They had gone on the trip to sort out growing problems with the Basutoland Congress Party which had threatened to repatriate the "refugees".
During the trip Berman mentioned the need for a sabotage organisation. "Playing his cards close to his chest Mandela merely noted that any such organisation should have an African name". (The name Umkhonto we Sizwe was selected. Umkhonto is the isiZulu word for Spearhead. Spearhead was also the name of Frene Ginwala's journal which was published in November 1961. It was advertised in the first issue of New African in January 1952.)
It is clear from the document that there were further discussions between the Group and leaders of the ANC on the question of sabotage and the Group promised to supply explosives as soon as it was in a position to do so.
4. Training revolutionaries in the the use of explosives and resistance methods.
A recurring request in the document was for an expert in the use of explosives to be sent to them from Europe. Such an expert duly arrived at the Cape. In his essay Magnus Gunther referred to this person on several occasions:
"Training (in the use of explosives) was also supplied by a former British Army officer, Robert Watson, a student at the University of Cape Town who had served in Malaysia and Cyprus during the anti-guerilla campaigns.
Watson was something of a swashbuckler, an enigmatic figure, vicariously described as authoritarian and power-hungry. He had been a paratrooper and had valuable knowledge of explosives and military organisation and brought sorely needed technical competence to the NCL whose members he would train in both Cape Town and Johannesburg...
Leftwich and Watson had spent the early part of the year strengthening the NCL's organisational capacity. A manual of detailed procedures for carrying out sabotage was developed, probably by Watson. Formal escape committees and procedures were established for both Cape Town and Johannesburg...
Watson suggested that five subcommittees should be formed dealing respectively with propaganda, intelligence, medical assistance, escape and action. Each regional committee was to coordinate overall planning...
As a result of disputes around this issue and others Watson left the NCL in June 1963, disgusted not only at its lack of professionalism, as he saw it, but also because it refused to launch attacks that might injure people and was not willing to prepare for guerilla warfare. He seemed to have little tolerance for the fact that everything about sabotage from buying a small flashlight to planning a complicated attack on a pylon had to be learned from scratch...
Both Watson and Leftwich came from environments that emphasised the importance of procedure, specialisation and order for getting things done...
Watson apparently had fantasies about being the ‘Lawrence of South Africa' and his rooms were adorned with posters of his hero. He also had a strong penchant for potentially lethal violence. Among his enthusiasms was a proposal to assist some Mpondo who were planning to murder Matamzima..."
Magnus Gunther interviewed a host of former NCL-ARM members, but in his essay there is no mention of any interview with Watson. Enquiries by the writer have led to the discovery that Watson's real name was William Robert Watson, that he was 40 years old, but looked younger when he trained NCL members, that he died some time ago, but that his file at the British Ministry of Defence is sealed and may only be opened on January 1st, 2031.
5. Freedom Radio.
The document disclosed that the Group had two sections in Natal. One section had forty members. It had three radio transmitters and had been running a Sunday evening broadcast under the name Freedom Radio. Some white listeners were complaining about the liberal nature of the broadcasts, but this would not be changed. The section had explosives, but unfortunately a member had been arrested for being in possession of explosives.
6. Manufacture of bombs and Explosives.
The document discloses that the Group had found a suitable site for a base in Swaziland where explosive devices could be manufactured. It proposed that from an additional £20,000 asked for in the document, the amount of £7,500 be used for the purchase of the site and the erection of a buiding. It was proposed that £800 be spent on equipment to generate electricity. It was stated in the document that the Torquil would be able to carry 10 to 15 tons of explosivess. Repeated requests that the explosives be made available appear in the document.
The document does not identify the party or country from which the Group expected the explosivs to be sent, but a footnote in Magnus Gunther's essay provides a clue:
"The NCL did have a valuable supporter in Allard Lowenstein, a well-known left liberal activist who would go on to become a US congressman and lead the ‘Dump Johnson' campaign in 1968. Lowenstein suggested if the NCL found an African government that would make a request to import explosives, he had contacts that would expedite the process. He and Gunther were still working on this when the end came".
What Gunther did not tell his readers was that Lowenstein had strong links with the CIA. Richard Cummings, who wrote a book about Lowenstein, provided details about this in the Summer 1995 issue of the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.
Gunther's reference to "the end" should not be seen as having been the end of the secret war against Afrikaners. It was merely the end of a phase. One needs only to read Denis Herbstein's White Lies - Canon Collins and the secret war against apartheid to see how it continued. John Lang immediately after arriving in London in 1961, obtained a position in Collins's International Defence and aid Fund (IDAF) and worked there, according to both Herbstein and Gunther, until his alleged misappropriation of trust funds in South Africa required him to leave.
Neville Rubin became Collins's main advisor on how to channel funds secretly to the underground in South Africa. John Collins's IDAF and Christian Action, Michael Scott's Africa Bureau and the International University Exchange Fund (IUEF), (all three sometimes orchestrated by the Establishment via David Astor of the Observer), competed to see which would get more millions to South Africa to support terrorists in court, to provide bursaries for their children and support for their dependants, to finance propaganda and to nurture Black Consciousness. (The IUEF had been the financial arm of the International Student Conference (ISC) which had its headquarters in the Netherlands. When the news leaked out in 1967 that the ISC had been financed by the CIA it ceased to exist and the IUEF was quietly removed to Oslo).
In Lauritz Strydom's book, Rivonia - Masker Af, a photocopy of a letter written on April 19th, 1963 by Collins to Walter Sisulu is reproduced. The following paragraph in it is very significant:
"Christian Action, through the Defence and Aid Fund, will do everything possible to raise financial assistance to cover the types of circumstances about which you write, particularly the cases which arise as a result of the so-called Sabotage Act".
He might as well have added: "So feel free to carry on planting your bombs old chap". Remember, this man Collins was appointed a Canon at St. Paul's by the British Labour Party government. In that position he was unassailable. Exactly how much of the money he spent on terrorists and their dependants came from the British and American governments, is not revealed by Herbstein.
Collins died before he could be made a lord or a duke, but they compensated in 1999 by making his wife a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) for "services to human rights in Southern Africa"!
These services did not include giving a single penny towards the dependants of the 406 Black people who were cruelly killed by means of the necklace method or the 28 who were injured by it, but escaped death. When Mrs. Mandela, known for her necklace and matches speech, was charged after the death of Stompie Seipei, they agreed, despite opposition in their ranks, to pay for her defence. Fortunately for them a multi-national firm in the USA, which Herbstein coyly refrains from identifying, came up with the cash before they could do so.
And the moral of the story? Don't mess with the Brits like the Boers did my boy. Be like Mandela and say it out loud: "I confess to being something of an Anglophile". (Long walk to Freedom, p.360). So they made him a saint.
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