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Spies Tell Lies. | The Shrieking Man

5 August 2017

With the reopening of the Ahmed Timol inquest, and seeing it live on TV, this post from last year may have renewed interest

In South Africa, of course, the police spy was necessarily tied in with the apartheid state, and to be called an “impimpi” was as much as one’s life was worth (provided that one was weak, unprotected and unarmed — ideally an elderly female whom the brave young lions could boldly burn to death).The exception in the West is the middle-class perspective on the political police spy. Of course Verloc in Conrad’s The Secret Agent is an unattractive figure — but then he is an agent provocateur, and working for the Czarist government whom Konrad Korteniowski necessarily disliked. But in a lot of cases the attitude is more that of I Was a Communist for the FBI — focussing on the courage of the political police spy in betraying the spy’s friends and allies on behalf of the centres of power. The same was true under the apartheid regime in South Africa, when police spies were honoured (except by those against whom they were used) — except that some felt that there was something a little problematic about them, not that anybody in authority minded.

Source: Spies Tell Lies. | The Shrieking Man

Ahmed Timol was not, of course, the only defenestration victim of the apartheid Security Police. Names like Looksmart Solwandle and Phakamile Mabija spring to mind. I wonder if anyone is planning to reopen their inquests.

Phakamile Mabija was someone my wife Val had met, and he was a youth worker in the Anglican Church, at the time of his death in detention in Kimberley, so I rather hope that the Anglican Church of Southern Africa might take up his case, just as I hope they might take up the case of the Epinga Martyrs.

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