JOHANNESBURG Nov 28 - SAPA

RICHARDSON WAS A POLICE INFORMER: TRC HEARS

Jerry Richardson, former "coach" of the Mandela United Football Club, was a police informer, it was revealed at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission sitting in Johannesburg on Friday.

The information emerged during the testimony of national police commissioner George Fivaz at the hearing in Mayfair into human rights atrocities allegedly perpertrated by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and the football club members who acted as her personal bodyguards.

They include murder, kidnapping and assault during a reign of terror they allegedly conducted in Soweto in the 1980s.

TRC investigator Piers Pigou, using information from a National Intelligence Agency document dated April 21, 1995, said Richardson was paid R10,000 by police for information on the whereabouts of the bodies of Lolo Sono and Sibusiso Tshabalala.

Earlier testimony has linked Madikizela-Mandela and her bodyguards to their murders.

Fivaz said Richardson indicated he would not give information on Sono and Tshabalala unless police paid him R10,000 they owed him for his informing activities while he was "coach" of the club in 1989.

"That motivated the informer claim (receipt advice)... it was to oil his hands to co-operate with the investigations into the disappearance of Sono and Tshabalala," said Fivaz.

Pigou asked: "So the SAPS is involved in oiling the palms of a convicted murderer to implicate someone else?"

Fivaz responded that the R10,000 contributed to the investigation of the case, but said it was not normal police practice.

Pigou said he was concerned that documentation on Richardson and other informers was stored at police headquarters in Pretoria and had been destroyed.

Former security policeman Paul Erasmus said later on Friday that Richardson supplied the police with information on the Madikizela-Mandela household which was under 24-hour police surveillance.

His handler, Sergeant Stefanus Pretorius, was killed in Richardson's house in November 1988 after Richardson arranged a trap for two Umkhonto we Sizwe members.

Fivaz earlier said Katiza Cebekhulu, who claimed he saw Madikizela-Mandela stab teenage activist Stompie Seipei to death in early 1989, was not a reliable witness.

Fivaz said Cebekhulu had so far given four versions to police of the death of slain Soweto doctor Abu Baker-Asvat, gunned down in his Soweto surgery in February 1989.

Cebekhulu and his protector - former British MP Baroness Emma Nicholson - were interviewed in London in July 1995 by Superintendent Hoothra Moodley.

"Superintendent Moodley was of the opinion that Cebekhulu's knowledge about the death of Asvat was from conversations between himself and Thulani Dlamini and Cyril Mabatha, while they were detained at police cells in Lenasia, and Protea in Soweto," Fivaz said.

Dlamini and Mabatha were both convicted of the murder of Asvat. Dlamini is applying for amnesty for the deed.

Mabatha in a BBC television interview on Thursday claimed he got the weapon for the murder of Asvat from Madikizela-Mandela.

Later on Friday, the commission heard from Erasmus and former Stratcom head Vic McPherson how apartheid security police disseminated a "veritable mass of disinformation" to local and international media to discredit the African National Congress and its leaders, in particular Madikizela-Mandela.

Erasmus told the hearing Stratcom was a security police organ driving the National Party government's programme of disinformation against its enemies.

"Within the parameters of Stratcom, methods ranging from dirty tricks to sabotage were utilised freely."

He said prior to 1990 he participated in the creation of a full-time Stratcom unit at John Vorster Square (now Johannesburg Central police station) to act against Madikiela-Mandela.

The unit "churned out propaganda" to the effect that she and Barclays Bank managing director Chris Ball were having an affair.

The aim, he said, was to discredit Madikizela-Mandela, her husband Nelson Mandela and the ANC as a whole. The NP government was concerned about the bank's positive stance towards the ANC, Erasmus said.

"In 1990 the Nationalist government embarked on a four-year programme to reduce the ANC to just another poilitical party.

"Stratcom activities throughout were concluded on behalf of the State President, the Cabinet, sister intelligence departments, the Department of Foreign Affairs and other state departments."

He added: "All projects and activities were carried out with the full knowledge of and approval of the relevant ministers who received details thereof from the Stratcom component of the State Security Council."

Erasmus said he operated in Great Britain through an agent "who had a list of some 4000 conservatives worldwide and all of whom were anti-communist".

"I supplied information to the effect that Mrs Mandela was giving her husband a hard time, was an alcoholic, was using marijuana and such similar character assassination ploys."

Erasmus said he succeeded in getting this "dirt" to then British Prime Minister John Major's Conservative Party government, to Major himself and to the international media.

"Several British members of parliament were involved in spreading this information, and (this was) bolstered by the creation of forged documents and hundreds of letters to the press, both locall and internationally."

Stratcom also tried to discredit Nelson Mandela by spreading stories that he personally authorised his wife's statement that the ANC would liberate the country with the necklacing method.

"This was widely reported in the international media."

A victim of a "necklace" killing was usually assaulted before a tyre was placed around the victim's neck, filled with petrol and set alight.

However, attempts to smear Nelson Mandela failed because of the ANC leader's "impeccable integrity", Erasmus said.


South African Press Association, 1997
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