Boeremag suspects framed, intelligence operative claims
The police’s crime intelligence unit allegedly paid a convicted, apartheid saboteur R500,000 as part of a conspiracy to frame and monitor Boeremag treason suspects, former officers claim.
The alleged operative, former Civil Cooperation Bureau member, Barry Bawden, has close ties with President Jacob Zuma with Bawden admitting this week that he has a “personal relationship” with the president.
Bawden and members of the CCB, the notorious apartheid defence force unit, launched a terror campaign in Zimbabwe during the 1980s.
Bawden and a number of CCB agents were arrested and charged with sabotage in Zimbabwe in 1988. His brother, Kitt Bawden, had been the unit’s leader but fled to South Africa.
Bawden was sentenced to 40 years in jail but was released in 1999 after being granted asylum by President Robert Mugabe.
Bawden’s alleged role in the Boeremag saga has been revealed by a number of former policemen who describe in affidavits – confirmed by their attorney – how crime intelligence planted evidence on the Boeremag accused.
Rapport last week revealed how former crime intelligence unit member, Capt Deon Loots, claimed in an affidavit that the police unlawfully monitored conversations between Boeremag members and their legal teams.
If true, the Boeremag trial – the longest and most expensive criminal case in SA’s history – could be declared unfair and scrapped.
In his statement, Loots also referred to the alleged role of Bawden. While he does not mention Bawden’s name, Media24 Investigations has independently confirmed that the operative whose activities he described in the statement was identified by other officers as Bawden.
Bawden, the statements claim, was paid R450,000 to assist the police track two escaped Boeremag accused.
Bawden this week denied that he had been a police operative, but he admitted that he knew Zuma.
“I represent the Boeremag members with the President,” Bawden said, adding it was a “personal matter.”
He would not elaborate on how he knew Zuma.
Paul Kruger, the Pretoria attorney who acts for 13 Boeremag members, said Bawden had arranged for him to meet with Zuma on two occasions.
“There is no doubt that Bawden has an entrée to Zuma,” said Kruger. “How, I don’t know, but believe me, he has.”
Bowden had arranged for Kruger to meet with Zuma for the first time in 2004, while Zuma was still deputy president, Kruger said.
Kruger said he told Zuma that the police had planted evidence on the Boeremag accused and had probably unlawfully bugged the conversations between him and his clients.
“Zuma listened and was sympathetic but could not do anything,” said Kruger.
He had asked Bowden in 2007 to again to arrange for him to meet with Zuma, this time because the defence force had threatened to suspend the salaries of three soldiers among the accused in the Boeremag trial.
Kruger said he met Zuma at his private house in Johannesburg, that Zuma was sympathetic and that the defence force afterwards continued to pay the men their salaries.
Bawden, who moved to SA after his release, did business with the murdered mining magnate, Brett Kebble, among his many business interests.
Bawden befriended family members of the Boeremag accused and also supplied information to crime intelligence, the officers’ claim.
Bawden claimed to Media24 Investigations that he represented the Van Rooyen family in his interactions with Zuma.
Herman van Rooyen was the fifteenth Boeremag member to be found guilty of high treason.
He was the gang’s military leader in Limpopo and in 2002 participated in the setting of a number of bombs. He also plotted to kill former President Nelson Mandela.
Van Rooyen and his co-accused, Rudi Gouws, escaped from the Pretoria High Court in 2006 and were on the run for nine months before they were re-captured.
Loots said in his affidavit that the police had known for a month prior to their arrest where the two fugitives were hiding – on a farm near a Bawden property development in Bela-Bela.
Kruger said he has known for some time that Bawden had been the operative.
A Pretoria advocate, who asked not to be named, confirmed police officers whom he represents, have identified Bawden as the operative in affidavits.
Repeated requests to the police for comment over the past two weeks have not been responded to despite undertaking that comment would be forthcoming.
The Presidency also did not respond to requests for comment.