Posts Tagged ‘Assassination’

Last month Secret South Africa posted a blog about the case of the Lockerbie Bombing in 1988. The incident resulted in the death of 270 people. One of those people was Bernt Carlsson from Sweden, the UN High Commissioner in Namibia. Foul play was suspected especially because of the animosity between Carlsson and the Apartheid government. Shockingly, two years earlier another important dignitary who was a close colleague of Carlsson and arguably of a much higher profile was murdered.

Olof Palme in the early 70's

Sven Olof Joachim Palme was the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party from 1969 until his assassination in February 1986. Informally known as Olof Palme, he initially rose to the position of Prime Minister of Sweden in 1969 and remained in that position until 1976. He was re-elected in 1982 and remained in that position until 1986 when he was brutally gunned down. Bernt Carlsson was one of his protégés and political allies. Olof Palme was known to polarize people’s political views, finding himself profoundly supported by those on the left and equally abhorred by those on the right. His policies made him a widely recognized international political figure because of the controversial positions he stood by.

The fateful night of his murder, Olof Palme had decided to go and watch an evening movie at the cinema with his wife Lisbet Palme. He was known for trying to live a life as ordinary as possible often going places without any protection from his bodyguards. This night was one of such nights. While walking home from the cinema on a central street in Stockholm the couple was attacked by a lone gunman. The Prime Minister took a fatal shot at close range to the back. His wife was hit by a second shot and was wounded. Despite being rushed to hospital Olof Palme was pronounced dead on arrival. Nobody was ever convicted of the assassination but when one looks at Palme’s history strong suspicions begin to get raised in the direction of Apartheid South Africa.

Born in 1927 he went on to become President of the Swedish National Union of Students while studying law at Stockholm University at the age of 25. From early on in his academic life his political stance leaned toward socialism. Later on in life he often attributed this stance to the time he spent studying towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in the United States (1947-1948) where he became very aware of the divisions of class and was incensed by the role racism played in the society.

The institutionalization of racism in South Africa was yet to become a major issue in international politics but Palme’s strong adverse opinions to the racist doctrine, from early on, already positioned him as a potential enemy to the apartheid state. It is also crucial to note that the South African government was to become the major opposition to the spread of communism and socialism in Southern Africa, funding several proxy wars in order to maintain ascendancy in the region and protect their unjust regime. Palme’s socialist stance would come to position him against the regime.

Apartheid South Africa’s aims at growing their nuclear weapon arsenal was something well known in the world arena at the time. One can only imagine the stir that Palme created amongst the South African government of the time with his continuous campaign against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The gravity of this campaign in terms of its direct approach to dealing with imperialism pales in comparison with his outright and very vocal opposition to apartheid on the world stage. This opposition manifested in his stubborn support for economic sanctions against Apartheid South Africa. His support for the struggle of the people in South Africa also extended as far as both political and financial support for the leading organization opposing Apartheid, the African National Congress (ANC).

On the 21st of February, a week before he was assassinated, Palme made the keynote address to the Swedish People’s Parliament Against Apartheid which was held in Stockholm. The event was attended by thousands of anti-apartheid sympathizers, leaders and officials from the Anti-Apartheid Movement as well as from the ANC. Oliver Tambo, President of the ANC, was amongst those of the most prominent leaders that attended the event. In Palme’s address he made one his most remembered statements, “Apartheid cannot be reformed, it must be eliminated”. This statement made him a direct threat to the immoral leaders of the vampiric apartheid state.

Eugene de Kock

The ANC was reviled by the apartheid state, so much so that the state actually had units of assassins whose mandate was to target key figures in the organization and other figures outside it who were seen to be supporting it in any way. No clear evidence for Palme’s killing was ever found that could conclusively point the finger at the apartheid government. However, ten years after Palme’s assassination, Colonel Eugene de Kock, a former South African police officer and covert assassin alleged that Palme had indeed been killed by the apartheid government. The reasons cited were his strong opposition to the apartheid government and Sweden’s financial and political support of the ANC.

De Kock named Craig Williamson who was a former police colleague of his and a South African superspy. Swedish police investigators visited South Africa a month later to try and find evidence to substantiate the claim but were unsuccessful. In a September, 2010 interview, Tommy Lindstrom, head of the Swedish Crime Investigation Department (CID) during the 80’s was asked who he thought was responsible for the assassination. He responded without hesitation that he still suspected apartheid South Africa were behind the assassination.

Several of the names that came up in the Lockerbie article popped up again in this one, is this a concidence? Why would Eugene de Kock deliberately lie about the killing of Olof Palme? De Kock had nothing to lose or gain by claiming responsibility for the murder. Sweden and Palme particularly, were clearly throwing as much weight as they possibly could to put pressure on the apartheid government. Knowing the violent nature of the oppressive state it certainly would not be a surprise to find confirmation of their role in the assassination. Finally, the lack of hesitation of Sweden’s highest rank of detective at the time to point the blame to the apartheid government certainly seems convincing. We leave it up to you decide…


1988 was an important time in the history of South Africa with more and more countries implementing sanctions against the Apartheid government to try and pressure them into changing their policies. Rivalries between guerilla forces and the South African Defence Force (SADF) and the South African Police Force (SAPF) escalated resulting in fatalities and casualties on both sides. This was also the year of the killing of senior ANC member Dulcie September in Paris, March 1988. Before her assassination she had been investigating the trafficking of nuclear weapons between France and South Africa.  

Another incident formed part of a major news story, namely, the Lockerbie Bombing on the 21st of December, 1988. 270 people flying on the Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York were killed after the plane exploded during flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. Despite several groups claiming that they were behind the act of terrorism, Libyan intelligence officer and head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA), Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was convicted of the bombing.

Amongst the people who were killed was Bernt Carlsson, UN High Commissioner for Namibia.

Bernt Carlsson

A noteworthy point would be that representatives of South Africa, United States of America, Angola and Cuba met in May of the same year. The meeting was about searching for a solution to the Angolan war and independence for Namibia from South Africa. The killing of the UN High Commissioner would seem to be an act of defiance against discussions towards independence in Namibia. The Commissioner was on his way to the UN signing of the Tripartite Accord which would grant independence to Namibia and end the direct involvement of foreign troops in the Angolan Civil War. Interestingly, Carlsson had links with the ANC.

Oliver Tambo

On the 14th of March, 1982 he tipped off the then ANC president, Oliver Tambo not to attend a meeting in the London offices of the ANC which were bombed by one of Carlsson’s compatriots on the same day.

The main antagonist to countries finding independence in Southern Africa was actually the South African government at the time. They believed that this independence would allow blocs of resistance in the region to strengthen their support, both economically and militarily, for the freedom struggle in South Africa.

It comes as a strange coincidence to know that senior South African officials were booked on the flight. These individuals included foreign affairs minister, Pik Botha, defence minister, Magnus Malan and military intelligence head CJ van Tonder. The men were well-known for their ties and loyalty to the apartheid government of South Africa.

Pik Botha

Shortly before the plane was due to take-off they cancelled their booking for the flight and booked themselves an earlier flight to New York. This led to great suspicion that the Apartheid government in South Africa somehow had a part to play in the bombing.

Magnus Malan

The fact that Bernt Carlsson had been helpful to the president of the ANC (Oliver Tambo) on a number of previous occasions provides possible ascription of motive for assassination to the apartheid government in that the ANC were one of their greatest political enemies. What is the reason behind their last minute change in booking? Is it not conceivable to assume that they knew about the plan to bomb the plane? They were after all travelling with both the military head of intelligence and the defence minister of a country that was in perpetual war… Why was no significant form of investigation done into this matter? Another puzzle in the quagmires of history left unresolved…