Ruth First: Williamson given amnesty

By Time of article published Jun 1, 2000

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Former apartheid spies Craig Williamson and Roger Raven have received amnesty for the 1982 murder of African National Congress activist Ruth First in Maputo.

They also received amnesty for conspiring to kill Joe Slovo, First's husband and then leader of the ANC military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's amnesty committee granted them amnesty at a hearing in Pretoria on Thursday, TRC spokesman Phila Ngqumba said.

Williamson and Raven also received amnesty for the murder of Jeanette and Katryn Schoon at Lubango in Angola on June 28, 1984.

Williamson was a major in the security police and Raven was his subordinate.

The two men got permission from the then minister of police, through their superior Brigadier Piet Goosen, to launch cross-border attacks that included the bombing of the ANC's London headquarters, they said in their submissions to the TRC.

They were also granted amnesty for transporting improvised explosive devices, interception of mail and possession of explosives.

Both these applications were opposed by the Slovo and Schoon families.

Jeannette Schoon and Ruth First were at the time of their deaths lecturing at universities in Luanda and Maputo. They were active ANC supporters.

The actions were meant to destabilise, demoralise and disadvantage the ANC, the applicants said.

Ex-spies Willem Schoon (no relation) and John McPherson were also granted amnesty for their roles in the attempted murder of Marius Schoon and Joe Slovo in 1982 and 1984, and for the Lusaka bombing.

The bomb was built into a briefcase and placed at the gates of the ANC offices in Lusaka by police agents. It exploded and caused minimal damage - no deaths or injuries were reported.

The intention had been that the bomb should be left at Slovo's office.

Two other security police operatives, Kobus Klopper and Johann Tait, were also granted amnesty for killing four alleged arms smugglers at Komatipoort.

The smugglers were carrying weapons intended for the military wings of ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress.

Another security police operative, Michael Bellingan, was refused amnesty for murdering his wife Janine on September 20, 1991, and for the theft of cheques intended for the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).

As part of normal security police operations at the time, the mail of certain organisations, including Numsa, was intercepted.

In the course of these operations during 1988 and 1989 a number of cheques drawn in favour of Numsa were intercepted.

Bellingan told the committee he had discovered that his wife was not happy with his work as a security policeman and she was about to leak confidential information to the ANC.

He said he decided to kill her because she was a security risk.

The committee, in refusing Bellingan amnesty, said it was not satisfied that he had made full disclosure or that the murder constituted an act associated with a political objective. - Sapa

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