A policeman who is applying for amnesty for the clandestine murder of an ANC activist in 1981 was an investigator for the Harms commission of inquiry into hitsquad activities.

This emerged during the hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's amnesty committee in Cape Town on Friday during the amnesty application of four policemen who have admitted playing a part in the abduction and murder of Sizwe Kondile in August 1981.

One of the applicants, Colonel Hermanus du Plessis, has admitted assaulting Kondile during interrogation and later taking part in his murder on the Mozambique border.

He has admitted it was an illegal act but claimed it was carried out in as part of a "clandestine operation" to prevent Kondile from leaking vital information about security police informer networks.

He initially denied any part in the murder when it first came to light in revelations made by self-confessed police hitsquad leader Dirk Coetzee in 1989.

Du Plessis worked as an investigator for the 1990 Harms commission of inquiry into the allegations of state-sponsored hitsquad or third force activities as alleged by Coetzee.

The Harms Commission concluded that there was no evidence to support Coetzee's claims that police operated a hitsquad which eliminated opponents of the government.

Testifying before the committee on Friday, Coetzee admitted that he had once offered his services as chief investigator in any proposed "South African Nuremburg trials".

Coetzee said the task would have been easy to perform because of his knowledge of how the police operated.

"I would have been able to get right to the bottom of it all, not like Du Plessis who was the investigator in the Harms Commission" he said.

Coetzee said he had made "not one cent" from his revelations about police hitsquads and was motivated only by the need to tell the truth.

South African Press Association, 1998
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