[DEBATE] : (Fwd) RW Johnson's claims
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Mon May 18 18:41:25 BST 2009
David Beresford finds a troubling reliance on gossip in this chronicle
of the Rainbow Nation
The Guardian, Saturday 16 May 2009
Johnson is an ace at "the cuttings job". There are a couple of
principles of which a good cuttings writer should be aware. One is to
beware of plagiarism. Johnson is obviously alert to this, devoting more
than 1,500 footnotes - mostly references to newspapers - to defences
against any such charge.
A second principle is that dead men cannot sue and may therefore be
vilified to one's heart's content. An example is the murder in 1977 of
Dr Robert Smit and his wife at their Pretoria home. The killing of this
National Party parliamentary candidate and former South African
representative to the IMF is one of South Africa's most baffling
unsolved crimes, but Johnson manages to solve it in a single paragraph.
The assassin, he announces, was a "legendary special forces agent", one
Tai Minaar. "It seems clear that he (Smit) was murdered at the behest of
the state president, Nico Diederichs, who as finance minister had
creamed off millions into a Swiss bank account which Smit was about to
expose," he adds. Needless to say, both Diederichs and Minaar are dead
and cannot sue.
Another who suffers criticism is Joe Modise, South Africa's former
minister of defence and one-time commander in chief of Umkhonto we Sizwe
(MK), the military wing of the ANC, who is also dead. Modise always
struck me as a bit of a fool. Johnson, however, paints him as a rough,
tough killer who, among other things, had been "primarily responsible
for the brutal torture inflicted on MK dissidents in camps such as
Quatro" (though control of the detention camps fell under the department
of security and intelligence of which - so far as I am aware - Modise
was not a member).
Johnson also accuses Modise of the murder of Chris Hani, the likeable
leader of the South African Communist Party shot dead by a Polish
immigrant with anti-communist leanings. "Everything points to Modise,"
says Johnson. "He alone had a compelling motive to kill Hani, the
seniority as MK commander to represent his decisions as those of the ANC
and the necessary acess to MK intelligence to play a role from the
shadows," he adds. "He was, moreover, a man who had frequently had
people killed and who had already once tried to kill Hani."
Johnson makes the allegation on the basis that in 1968 a group of MK
commanders, including Hani, publicly denounced the army leadership for
corruption, and Modise later voted for Hani's death. Hani was
assassinated in 1993.
But the dead are not the only people Johnson attacks. He writes: "not
only was (Robert) Mugabe one of the few people given a fore-warning of
the events of 9/11, but he had actually allowed al-Qaeda militants to
fly into Zimbabwe in the week following 9/11 to get fitted out with
false Zimbabwean passports", thus suggesting that Mugabe was an
accomplice before and after the fact in the destruction of the twin
towers. Turning to the relevant footnote for the source of this
mind-boggling claim, I read:
"See RW Johnson".
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