Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear Weapons’


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…