The insatiable, unscrupulous greed and corrupt political relationships of the defence industry (and its associated nuclear industry) have become a feature of our time. Accept that and several loose bits of the historical puzzle fall into place. Why was Dr Robert Smit murdered back in 1977? Why did such obviously corrupt, racist, even bankrupt old Nat politicians like Finance Minister Dr Nic Diederichs and Minister of Energy and Manpower Fanie Botha enjoy the enthusiastic support and protection of Big Business?
Why have successive governments found it necessary to ignore the fact that Mafia banker Vito Palazzolo entered the country illegally and acquired resident status by corrupt means?
Why the ANC’s eagerness to sign up for the arms deal – and yet another bankrupting nuclear programme?
Our lead story (and a book recently published, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with
Apartheid South Africa, by Sasha Polakow-Suransky) suggest answers to all three those old, nagging questions. They served (or, in Smit’s case, opposed) the interests of what General Eisenhower dubbed the “military industrial complex”.
Robert Smit, a doctor of economics, had worked in the Treasury and been South Africa’s representative at the IMF for years, so was well acquainted with international banking, bankers and politics. For some weeks before his assassination in October 1977 (his wife Cora was also killed by the assassins), Smit had hinted to close friends that he had made a very troubling discovery involving the Minister of Finance Dr Diederichs. And that he feared assassination. Walking to a restaurant in Johannesburg, he insisted on walking in the middle of the street rather than on a crowded pavement. He told his companion that he believed he was under surveillance and that either American or Israeli agents might try to assassinate him. He went to see a Hervormde Kerk pastor to discuss his fears. The same pastor conducted the Smits’ funeral service – and chose an unusual text for a funeral – from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Put on the whole armour of God ... for we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against ... spiritual wickedness in high places”. But he never repeated what Smit had told him, perhaps fearing for his own life.
Dr Eschel Rhoodie was, as Secretary for Information in the 1970s, one of the most influential and well-connected people in senior cabinet and security circles. There was little he did not know about the government’s secret strategies and the darker side of world affairs.
After his death in 1993, noseweek published an interview with Dr Rhoodie that was recorded on 26 October 1987. In it he got the closest he ever did to revealing the Afrikaner Nationalist government’s biggest secret project ever – the acquisition of The Atom Bomb – and hinted at who might have been responsible for the assassination of Robert Smit.
Rhoodie: “I [like Smit] had access to top secrets outside my own department. That guarantees surveillance ... most tapping was done by the Security Police and – interestingly enough – Military Intelligence. You might think I am wandering off the track, but it all ties together.
“Let’s assume Dr Smit uncovered some massive secret fund that was there illegally, and that he threatened the secrecy of the funds and the position of the people [mal]administering, that fund … [the security police and military intelligence would have known about it.]
“The so-called Defence Special Account was established for the purchase of weapons abroad after the UN imposed an embargo on South Africa. The law removed these funds from scrutiny, even by the Auditor General ... Over the past 15 years (up to 1987) they probably totalled R3-billion. One day General van den Bergh remarked casually: ‘Given the known facts about the black market, we seem to be paying two or three times more than we should’.
“We figured ... about R200 million or more was going out unaccounted for each year ... and that there could be a fund sitting out there amounting to a [few] billion.”
Enough to pay for Israel and South Africa’s joint nuclear bomb programme?
How might Palazzolo fit into all of this? Go online and reread the Ciskei bank story innose9.
Then turn to our lead story Monstrous Hatchlings.
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