Meyer blamed for black-on-black violence

Startling information surfaces in Ahmed Timol inquest.
Startling information surfaces in Ahmed Timol inquest.

The apartheid government's dirty tricks were in the spotlight at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria yesterday.

Testifying at the inquest looking into anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Timol's death at John Vorster Square in 1971, former police officer Paul Erasmus spoke broadly about the propaganda of the apartheid state.

Erasmus served in Stratcom, the propaganda apparatus of the apartheid security police.

What could be seen as a startling revelation by Erasmus is that Roelf Meyer, former apartheid and Mandela-era cabinet minister, was the mastermind behind the early 1990s black-on-black violence propaganda.

As part of the so-called black-on-black violence, an internecine war erupted between supporters of black political organisations.

Asked about the strategy of fabricating stories propagating black-on-black violence, Erasmus said: "Well, that was the brainchild of none other than Mr Roelf Meyer.

"We were lectured extensively. I attended two or three courses on this whole principle about the so-called black-on-black violence."

Erasmus told court his erstwhile colleague Eugene de Kock distributed guns among factions in KwaZulu-Natal "as part of this whole thing".

It was meant to create a picture "that black people were fighting each other more than [being involved] in a racial war or a war against the Nationalist government," said Erasmus.

Erasmus said some misinformation created by Stratcom exist to this day.

The unit concocted lies that Peter Mokaba, the late ANC firebrand, was an apartheid agent. "I do know that still exists to this day," Erasmus said.

Erasmus' evidence would be used to prove the apartheid state concocted stories that a number of political activists committed suicide at John Vorster Square in Johannesburg.

Timol was said to have committed suicide there by jumping through a window in 1971.

In 1972, the state ruled Timol's death a suicide, but his family has never accepted this.

The family launched a private investigation and uncovered new information that could dispel that Timol jumped to his death.

Alex Matthis, a retired advocate, told the court he saw Timol falling from a window. He testified he could not tell if Timol jumped or was pushed.

"I had no idea what had happened. All I saw was the body falling. I rushed to the window ... and I saw him lying there [on the pavement]," said Matthis.

The inquest continues.

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