Generals living it up at former hit squad base

2012-05-12 15:40

Generals from crime intelligence have been illegally living it up at a former apartheid-era hit squad base.

Island Rock was kept by police for covert operations after 1994, but is now being used for family holidays at state expense, a Hawks investigation has revealed.

The generals, including the division’s finance head, Solly Lazarus, and KwaZulu-Natal boss Deena Moodley, have been entertaining friends and families in the very place where ANC cadres were tortured and political assassinations plotted.

The abuse of the former Vlakplaas base near Sodwana Bay in the ecologically sensitive ISmangaliso Wetland Park on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast was uncovered by Hawks investigators as part of the investigations into the plunder of a crime intelligence “slush fund”.

Inspector General of Intelligence Advocate Faith Radebe is investigating the fund after receiving complaints from the Hawks and crime intelligence officials.

A report by Majors General Mark Hankel and Chris de Kock to Radebe states that the facility – retained at the insistence of former police chief Jackie Selebi and on the instruction of former crime intelligence head Rayman Lalla – became the private preserve of Moodley and his network.

The camp – known locally as Spy Camp – was “regularly utilised for family holidays and weekend getaways by a crime intelligence major general, his friends, colleagues and certain service providers”, the report states.

“It would appear that all expenses incurred for the above, including family breaks, are paid for from the (secret service account).”

City Press has established the general in question is Moodley, who was transferred out of the unit earlier this year but reinstated after winning a labour court interdict.

No vehicles, except for police, are allowed near Island Rock.

Visitors are greeted by a “private” sign nailed to a tree at the top of an access ramp from the beach. The camp consists of blocks of chalets, a common dining area, a deck and bar area.

The caretaker, former Koevoet operator warrant officer Piet Nel, was away on leave. Another couple who lived on the property said “the owner is private, not police”.

Built in the 1970s by the Security Branch as one of four secret facilities in the area, the camp was used for interrogations and planning cross-border hits.

Although the others were destroyed by KwaZulu-Natal Ezemvelo Wildlife after 1994 because of their location, Selebi ensured that this facility be kept, said a former conservation official.

“We were given all kinds of different reasons by Selebi’s office and crime intelligence as to why it should be kept. It was first as a safe house, then as a place for the president to hold top-secret meetings with foreign leaders, then that it had a strategic interest.”

According to crime intelligence officers in KwaZulu-Natal, the facility has never been used for official purposes.
“This is a disgrace,” said a crime intelligence officer. “People were tortured there, but now it’s being used for jolling – nothing more, nothing less.”

Former MK members complained the facility was being abused. “It’s disgusting that people are partying in the same place where our comrades were tortured. For all we know, comrades who disappeared are buried at that beach,” said one.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) heard evidence that Island Rock was used as a torture camp as early as 1976, when MK members Cleophas Ndlovu and Joseph Ndluli were tortured there for several weeks at a time.

Vlakplaas boss Eugene de Kock told the TRC it was used in the 1980s by his unit for debriefings, and to plan the assassinations of ANC members infiltrating from Swaziland and Mozambique. They also used it for partying and sexual liaisons.

Moodley denies that he is the person being referred to in Hankel’s report.

“I haven’t been to Island Rock in more than seven years. The person they are talking about is most definitely not me. I have never taken my family there as it is a secret facility,” Moodley said.

He said the camp was controlled by crime intelligence head office and not him.

Lalla, who now works for the SA Revenue Service, did not respond to questions.

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