Swedish prosecutors will announce a decision in the investigation into the long unsolved murder of former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, who was shot dead in downtown Stockholm in 1986. Picture: Anders Holmstrom/TT via AP (Archives)
Swedish prosecutors will announce a decision in the investigation into the long unsolved murder of former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, who was shot dead in downtown Stockholm in 1986. Picture: Anders Holmstrom/TT via AP (Archives)

Was Olof Palme assassinated by apartheid government? We may be about to find out

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Jun 10, 2020

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Johannesburg - The Swedish government, after 34 years years of digging and connecting the dots, will on Wednesday make public its findings on who killed its former Prime Minister Olof Palme.

Palme, a social democrat politician, was killed in 1986 in Stockholm while walking home after watching a movie at a local cinema. 

For years there has been suspicion that the brutal and vindictive apartheid government had a hand in his killing as Sweden had by then just granted diplomatic recognition to the ANC which was fighting to topple the government and introduce a fair system for all races. Also, several Swedish non-governmental organisations supported anti-apartheid activists through funds and moral support.

Now, in a new twist, British newspaper, the Guardian on Monday reported that the last push to find answers took place in March this year. That was when South African intelligence officials met Swedish investigators in Pretoria and handed over a dossier of information related to the assassination. 

This is according to sources familiar with the meeting who spoke to the paper. The paper said it was not clear, however, whether the dossier included substantive new evidence, or was simply tying up loose ends in a decades-long investigation. It added that the meeting was convened at the request of the Swedish investigation, and was chaired by Loyiso Jafta, the acting director-general of the South African State Security Agency.

While the assassination was executed with military precision and secrecy so much that there was nothing tangible to link the apartheid government, the paper also reported that Goran Björkdahl, a serving Swedish diplomat who has independently investigated the Palme assassination, is convinced that the apartheid regime’s covert security apparatus was responsible for the killing.

Major General Chris Thirion, who was head of military intelligence in the last years of the apartheid government, told Björkdahl on camera in October 2015 he believed South Africa was responsible for the Palme killing. He also gave him names of South African operatives allegedly involved in the Palme killing and offered to cooperate with the Swedish investigation in return for immunity for those involved.

It appears that one of the men the Swedish investigators later tracked down was ex-apartheid spy, the late Nigel Barnett, who like many other former apartheid spies, left South Africa to set up bases in Mozambique. It is believed that he quietly sold his spying skills to other spy agencies while running a yachting business in Maputo.

Political Bureau

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