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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Issue 3. 15th March [1976]

B.O.S.S. Black Killer

page 9

B.O.S.S. Black Killer

Image of a policeman arresting another person

'Boss' - The Bureau for State Security is the supreme body with the dual responsiblities of:-

the accrument of knowledge of all matters dealing with the security of South Africa


b)dealing with any threat to South African security.

The Need for Boss

Boss was officially created in 1969 to place under one authority the responsibility for gathering of intelligence. It combined the duties of police - internal security, and the military - external. Both bodies had shown little ability to effectively coordinate their findings.

In 1960 the Sharpeville and Langa massacres were the flashpoints of a rising tide of resentment to the racist policies of the white government. The internal threat, coupled with an increase in guerilla activity along her borders convinced the South African government of the need for an improved method of dealing with what was obviously a coordinated struggle.

Anxiety continued to grow. The government felt that the Suppression of Communism Act, the Terrorism Act, and Sabotage Act and the detention-without-trial laws were insufficient. Hence the enthusiam for another efficient organisation. Since 1969 it has become obvious that its duties are far more involved than they may appear to be on the surface. Basically the organisation is entrusted with maintaining a stable secure environment in which the white minority can maintain its high standards of wealth and power.

The Capabilities of Boss

The Bureau forms part of both the Prime Minister's department and the State Security Council and is therefore, close to the vital matters of government. Its leaders as a result have a concise knowledge of the action required in any situation. The Bureau has a guaranteed budget which has trebled from 4 million to 12 million rand between 1969 and 1975. It has been allowed to build up a highly efficient team of agents, many of whom have been enticed away from the police and military. This has created considerable antipathy between the three bodies.

The ability to work efficiently and in secret has been guaranteed by the government which has passed laws preventing details of its operations and personnel from being made public. No details considered by the Cabinet to be detrimental to the 'good of the state' or likely to undermine the capabilities of the bureau are allow to be discussed anywhere but in parliament. This includes courts of law, which has sparked much criticism from the very conservative legal profession. Some of its most respected members have launched virilent verbal attacks - castigating decisions which prevent evidence being presented in any case if it is deemed to be possibly damaging - the head of the Bureau has the right to decide this.

The Bureau for State Security exists principally as the controlling body within what is essentially a police state, where the majority of citizens are denied most basic civil and political rights and no serious opposition is permitted. In this connection its secondary purpose is to provide a cloak for police surveillance, interrogation and brutality in order to keep the [unclear: rems], and particularly the chief provides an excellent insight as to what manner of force it really is. General van den Bergh, the Commissioner General has an unenviable history of involvement in the organs of oppression in South Africa. In 1963 the general was head of the security police when directed by the government to reorganise the security services. That year had seen significant activity emanating from the principal liberation organisations - The African National Congress (A.N.C.) and the Pan Africanist Congress (P.A.C.). The general has been credited with 'practically wiping out sabotage' on his appointment. General van den Bergh's appointment was widely regarded as a jack-up engineered by Vorster who, in 1963 was Minister of Police. The two had been comrades in arms during World War II., when van den Bergh served under Vorster in an organisation known as Ossewabrandwag (OX Wagon Sentinel). This organisation was pro-Nazi in 'aim and intention and dedicated to performing whatever tasks of sabotage and terrorism deemed necessary by its leaders - (Vorster was one such leader) to hinder the pro British war effort of the government.

Ossewabrandwag doctrine is very revealing it reads in part - 'to seek the establishment of an authoritarian state with citizenship restricted to assimilable white elements, the abolition of private enterprise and the breaking of the British connection'. Between 1942 and 1944 both were imprisoned for treasonable activities. In 1967 the two were responsible for the unveiling of a monument to the organisation's war time leader.

Since 1963 there have been claims from elements of the South African press that Vorster is unable to govern the country without the General, and that the Nationalist Party has now become a mere instrument in the hands of these two ambitious men. History has indeed provided the proof. In many ways van den Bergh's powers are greater than those of the Prime Minister. He is answerable only to the Prime Minister and their connections are well founded. The General is able to investigate anything by any method he chooses, detain anyone for any length of time and prevent any mention of it in the press or elsewhere. He can prevent any court from investigating Boss, its actions, and its employees.

The Bureau has worked in close collaboration with its Rhodesian counterpart and, until its expulsion from the Continent with Portugal's force, in Mozambique and Angola. There is very strong evidence that Boss is active in Britain and Zambia, where it is thought to have strong links with the CIA. The Bureaus foreign activities will of necessity increase with the advent of hostile governments in the former Portuguese colonics and the upsurge of guerilla action in Namibia.

What Boss means to Black South Africans

Many thousands of Blacks have been detained indefinitely imprisoned for advocating majority rule and have generally had their lives disrupted and their families broken up. As much as the Bureau has the legal power and government sanction to arrest those it sees fit, it contribution is just as important to the general atmosphere of intimidation, confusion and fear which dominates the lives of all but the supporters of apartheid.

To some, the consequences of investigation by the Bureau are far more severe. It is estimated that more than 100 people have died while in detention. In all cases the police verdict covers it actions. An example is the case of Mr Imen Abdullah Haron, who died according to the police from an 'accidental fall down a flight of stairs in the police station at which he was being questioned, on the 27th September 1969'. A further exception to the long list of 'suicide while under detention' verdicts is that of Nichodimus Kgoathe, who died on the 5th of February 1969 while being detained, from 'Broncho-pneumonia following minor head injuries'. Others have joined African leaders Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisual on Robbers Island (a present day Devil's Island) for life sentences.

Boss, is to Black South Africans, an instrument of terror and brutality. To the whites - a weapon in their arsenal of oppression. In the last ten years 6 million Blacks - more than 50% of adult African males have been detained for one reason or another - many because of the investigations of Boss.

Anmesty International claims that by the end of 1974, South Africa had more political prisoners as a proportion of its population than any other country - little wonder that Boss has become such a fearsome reality to the Black population of South Africa.

— Mike Freeman

Note:- Further readings on this subject can be found in 'Defence and Aid publications' available from the Student Book Shop. Mount St.

Image of a barber wire fence

"Everyone has the righto to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state." (Article 13, UN Declaration of Human Rights).