In the course of implementing Apartheid, protecting White minority rule, fighting communism and keeping Black aspirations for a united, democratic South Africa at bay, the South African Defense Forces (SADF) became involved in widespread overt and covert activities. A war was fought on multiple fronts both internal and external to South Africa's borders. Between 1960-1994, the SADF conducted operations throughout the country and the 10 designated African Homelands and in 14 countries, the majority in neighboring African states but also including the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Scandinavia.


 27.5" x 18"  Mixed Media             (1999)


SADF forces or their surrogates were involved in conventional warfare - the war in Angola; police and military counter-insurgency operations in South West Africa (Namibia); cross-border raids to neighboring states and the homelands and regional destabilization programs, ostensibly to counter the growth of communism. The SADF tactics included political repression and imprisonment; detention and torture; extra-judicial executions and killings; intimidation; harassment of civilians; assassinations, ambushes and abductions.


Special Branch shows the faces of imaginary perpetrators; the acronyms refer to special units of the SADF and the SA Police; to covert operations; torture centers; prisons and operations' headquarters. The text is from the testimony of a perpetrator who applied for amnesty and a witness to an incidence of torture.

One of the Special Operations Units of the SA Security Police was Koevoet with 1,000 members. Its operations were covert, widespread and lethal. Their methods included beatings; destruction of property; torture - by hooding, electric shock, submersion in water, mock burials, mock executions, roasting over a fire, and, sleep, food and water deprivation; rape and sexual assault; coercion and intimidation; solitary confinement; and the use of victim's corpses to intimidate villagers. Monetary rewards were given to members for killings, captures and discoveries of arms on a graduated scale. Killing was rewarded most highly.


In his 1997 application for amnesty for atrocities perpetrated as a member of Koevoet, former Warrant Officer John Deegan testified to the TRC:


"We were basically automatons. We would just kill. That's how we got our kicks. We were adrenaline junkies".