STATE SECURITY COUNCIL REPORT
SECRETARIAT - JFJ VAN RENSBURG
"POSSIBLE RELEASE OF MANDELA"

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1 March 1993 Retired former SSC secretariat member Maj-Gen JFJ van Rensburg (Johannes), in his affidavit, said he remembered a telephone conversation with Gen van der Westhuizen during which Mr Goniwe's future was discussed.

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Information for State Authorities

The possible release of Mandela

1986
This document was obtained from the National Archives by the TRC’s research unit and provides insight into some of the options which were considered relating to the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. Scientists and managers of the chemical and biological warfare programme denied prior knowledge of the document or the ideas contained therein.

This document was used, and made available to the public, by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission during its public hearing into chemical and biological warfare, which took place in Cape Town in 1998.

TOP SECRET

SECRETARIATE OF THE STATE SECURITY COUNCIL

Reference nr: 22/3/1/2/38
Enquiries: Genl-maj JFJ van Rensburg

March 1986
To all the members of the State Security Council

THE POSSIBLE RELEASE OF MANDELA

INTRODUCTION
1. On 3 March 1986 the State Security Council tasked a special committee (vide Minutes nr SSC 3/86, item 2 g) with examining the possible repercussions of releasing Mandela, with the view to advising the State Security Council.
2. The committee, comprised of the directors-general of the departments of Justice, Foreign Affairs, National Intelligence and the Commissioners of the SA Police and the Correctional Services as well as the Secretary of the State Security Council, investigated the matter. The committee’s report on the matter follows:

REPORT
3. The committee was advised by the organisations involved of the following issues:
a. The position with regard to the release of Nelson Mandela that has already been made public.
b. The reactions on this position.
c. The different available options and the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

4. The committee considered the documentation and the various options and has made their recommendations.
5. The committee is of the opinion that different perceptions exist amongst the South African population of all races as well as amongst subversive elements and overseas about the government’s position with regard to Mandela and that this uncertainty contributes to the climate of unrest in the country. Therefore the committee proposes that a position be formulated that will be accepted and publicly advocated by all government institutions and that this position will be formulated as follows:
- It must be simple and easily understood;
- It is not to be adapted/changed often;
- It should be morally justifiable for all parties concerned;
- It should contribute to diminish the uncertainty in the minds of the well-meaning part of the population; and
- It should accommodate all the options.

6. The committee recommends that such a position be formulated as follows:
“Up to this point Mandela has refused to reject violence. The government is convinced that his release will contribute to an escalation of violence and terror in South Africa as well as in Southern Africa. Until the government is convinced that the release of Mandela will lead to a diminishing of violence and terror, he will not be released.”
7. The committee recommends that, if the government accepts this position, it not only be advocated internally, but that it also be conveyed to other relevant governments.

CONCLUSION
8. The issue will be resolved at a meeting of the State Security Council on 17 March 1986.

SECRETARY OF THE STATE SECURITY COUNCIL
____________________________________________________________
Ref nr: 22/3/1/2/38
March 1986

STRATEGIC ADVICE WITH REGARD TO THE OPTIONS FOR THE RELEASE OF NELSON MANDELA

INTRODUCTION
1. The ongoing debate regarding the release of Nelson Mandela received extra momentum since the government announced that it would be willing to release Mandela under certain conditions and amidst the escalating revolutionary threat. The situation has since already developed in such a way that the perception exists both internally and overseas that it is now only a matter of time before Mandela is released.
2. At this stage Mandela is perceived as a “Messiah” that will be able to free the Black man from White oppression. Within revolutionary/radical circles he is perceived as the militant commander-in-chief of Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK). Mandela therefore has the image of a symbolic unifier in the effort to violently overthrow the RSA government. While the ANC promotes violence and Mandela does not distance himself from this policy, he will remain the unifying leader of all elements that promote unlawful violence. In this regard it is essential to note that:
a. Mandela maintained his convictions during the past +- 22 years that he has been incarcerated and he still supports the objectives of the ANC as stipulated in the so-called Freedom Charter;
b. Mandela is regarded as the indisputable leader of the ANC and he undoubtedly possesses the leadership qualities which could escalate the revolutionary onslaught irreversibly.
c. Mandela has aligned himself irrevocably to the violent struggle of the ANC and his compatriots and he still considers the revolution as the only solution for the problems of the Black man.
d. Mandela supports/subscribes to the ANC’s relations with the SACP and Marxist countries.

3. The leadership aura that surrounds Mandela is so strong that the international community can envisage no future government in the RSA without the participation of Mandela, even if the majority of black people in South Africa support it. S.R. “Mac” Maharaj, a former ANC co-prisoner, in connection with this said the following:
“Furthermore no black group which claims to be standing for the rights of the black man and for the ending of national oppression, however much they may differ even on tactics and theory and strategy, facts to mention Nelson Mandela when it talks of a future South Africa. Thus not only does the ANC recognise him as a leader, but he is accepted as a national leader, in the country as a whole by all the people whatever their colour, and no future plans can afford to exclude him from their calculations.”

4. The release of Mandela, on whichever foundation, can only be considered if it leads to pro-active action of the government to the advantage of the South African Republic. Action in reaction to international and internal pressure from the “Free Mandela” campaigns, will be considered as a action out of weakness. The internal unrest situation has reached the stage that incidents of unrest take place any place or time and there can’t necessarily be large-scale national co-ordination or the presence of mobilising hot spots. The issue around Mandela can serve as a spark to escalate the revolutionary onslaught to an uncontrollable level.

5. The ANC. From press releases, interviews with ANC leaders and Radio Freedom broadcasts the following main themes could be identified:
a. The ANC is of the opinion that it is an indisputable fact that Mandela will be released. The question is; when?
b. The government’s willingness to release Mandela is due to the pressure that the ANC exercises on the government as well as pressure from the international community.
c. Nelson Mandela will under no circumstances accept political exile. The ANC insists that Mandela be released in the RSA and remains in the RSA.
d. The ANC considers the release of Mandela as one of the conditions for negotiating with the South African government.
e. The ANC rejects the connection that was made by the State President on 31 January 1986 in his opening speech of parliament, between the release of Nelson Mandela and that of capt W. du Toit, Andre Sakharov and Anatoly Shcharomsky.
f. The release of Mandela must be seen as part of a releasing process of political prisoners and not in isolation. This aspect is clearly illustrated in the themes of the following programs which were broadcasted by Radio Freedom respectively on the 5th and the 6th of February :
i. “The Release of Mandela and all Political Prisoners must be Intensified”.
ii. “Let us Intensify the Fight for the Release of All Political Prisoners”.
g. The release of Mandela will not result in the ANC ending its policy of violence.
h. If ANC leaders who are presently incarcerated are released, they will probably take up their previous positions or otherwise the current leaders might decide to re-assign other responsibilities/tasks to them. These were the words of Oliver Tambo on 1 March 1986 broadcasted by Radio Freedom: “When those leaders who are in prison come out, they will probably take up their places or otherwise the whole leadership would - and decide to re-assign tasks for them”.
i. The present rumours concerning the release of Mandela is a concerted effort to by the government to escape the present pressure. The ANC requests that the rumours be ignored and that the pressure be increased so that Mandela and other political prisoners can be released.

6. Winnie Mandela. Because of her regular contact with Nelson Mandela, her public statements/opinions about the release of Mandela can largely be seen as coming from Mandela himself. These are the main elements of Winnie Mandela’s statements about the situation:
a. Due to the pressure on the government the release of Mandela is unavoidable. It is simply a question of time.
b. Nelson Mandela will never be willing to accept political exile.
c. When released Mandela will maintain his leadership of the ANC and continue to work for an end to apartheid.
d. As well as the fact that he will refuse to accept political exile, Mandela, when released, will ignore all legal restrictions, in order to confront the government with the decision to re-arrest him.
e. The release of Nelson Mandela will have an undisputed impact on the people of South Africa. The following quotes from Winnie Mandela illustrate this:
i. In an interview with the Washington Post in February 1986 she said: “The whole country will turn out to welcome him - everything will come to a standstill and it will stay that way for as long as the people want it”.
ii. Radio Nederland on 13 February 1986: “Mrs Mandela predicted that his release would trigger a mass popular (indistinct) on the scale of Mahatma Gandhi’s march to the sea and the Ayatola Khomeini’s return to Teheran. The whole country would turn out to welcome him, she said, it would be the return of the people’s Messiah, everybody will be in the streets and everything will come to a standstill”.

7. Other. Dr Beyers Naude and the Chairman of the Organisation for African Unity are of the opinion that the release of Nelson Mandela will end the current spate of violence in the RSA.

FACTORS INFLUENCING THE OPTIONS
8. The following has been taken into consideration when options with regard to the release of Mandela are considered:
a. Mandela, the ANC/SACP/UDF alliance as well as the international community will not accept a conditional release.
b. Mandela will not forfeit his role as leader of the ANC and as the so-called liberator of the oppressed masses. It should be expected that he will continue to openly support the objectives of the ANC and to taunt the authorities in order to promote the revolutionary onslaught.
c. Mandela will not be prepared to negotiate his personal release or his future position and will do everything in his power to destroy the present law and order. The role of the old ANC and old restricted members in the UDF, in conjunction with the political implications to accommodate both him and his political alliances, can serve as an example of the future role that Mandela will fulfil.
d. The release of Mandela, whichever way it is secured, will place the government in a position that all other so-called Rivonia prisoners - the rest of the ANC top structure - will need to be released as well.
e. With regard to White politics it should be expected that the release of Mandela will lead to polarisation in the white community.
f. The release of Mandela will increase greater pressure on the South African government because the impression will have been created that the government has bowed to pressure.
g. It can be expected that the release of Mandela will increase pressure on the government to lift the ban on the ANC and/or to give general amnesty to so-called political exiles (revolutionaries).
h. Re-arresting Mandela will lead to a deterioration of the present situation and escalate the pressure on the government.

9. In addition to the above points government statements regarding Mandela and national as well as international reactions to these statements, have been analysed and options concerning these question have been considered.

CONSIDERING THE OPTIONS
10. The various options are analysed, taking into account the advantages and disadvantages as well as against the background of the current situation.

OPTION ONE: UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE
11. Advantages
a. International as well as internal pressure with regard to the release of Mandela will disappear.
b. There is a slight possibility that faction forming within the ANC will take place.
c. Mandela’s image as a martyr will be harmed and might even disappear.
d. Mandela will be in the position where he will have to proof his leadership qualities.
e. The RSA government’s objectives with regard to evolutionary political reform will be strengthened and the onus will largely be on the radicals/revolutionaries to prove their willingness to participate in the process.

12. Disadvantages
a. ANC/SACP/UDF action will increase the escalation of the revolutionary onslaught.
b. RSA action will be regarded as a weakness and his release will be seen as a victory for the revolutionaries.
c. There will be greater unity in the combined action of the so-called oppressed masses against the South African government. It will also lead to closer co-operation between the radicals/revolutionaries.
d. Western countries will increasingly be willing to negotiate with Mandela (in the RSA) rather than with Tambo (in a foreign country) and see Mandela as the future leader of the RSA.
e. Buthelezi’s role (Inkatha) as a moderate leader in the eyes of the international community will diminish.
f. Pressure on the government to politically accommodate the ANC/SACP/UDF alliance and Mandela will increase uncontrollably.
g. The government will have to give amnesty to ANC exiles/terrorists or be willing to accept excessive pressure.
h. The rest of the so-called political prisoners (in particular the Rivonia prisoners) will also have to be released, that means that the ANC top structure will be free.
i. In the light of the above it is doubtful if the Security forces will be able to stop the momentum of the revolutionary onslaught.
j. Pressure on the government to accept the one-man-one-vote principle (which implies a Black majority government) will increase uncontrollably.
k. Radicals/revolutionaries will also, regarding demands, be less accommodating because they will see the release of Mandela as the government “backing down”.
l. Polarisation within the white community will increase resulting in a decrease in White support for the government.
m. The unconditional release of Mandela and his presence thereafter in the RSA implies a de facto recognition of the ANC.
n. All indications are that Mandela will goal-directedly attempt to ignore/break the laws of the country and therefore re-arrest/restriction/deportation will be unavoidable.

OPTION TWO: RELEASE WITH RESTRICTION

13. Advantages
a. The perception that the RSA government acts out of weakness will not be so strong.
b. The extra time could allow the RSA government to “test” the revolutionary situation and to consider a different strategy to that of re-incarceration, e.g. deportation, neutralisation, etc.
c. The leadership position of Mandela will be restricted for the immediate short-term if the government decides to strictly enforce the restriction orders.
d. The humanist gesture from the side of the authorities without compromising the countries principles of safety can be used advantageously.

14. Disadvantages
a. Restricting Mandela after his release will have no limiting effect on the escalation of the revolutionary onslaught, on the contrary, the situation will deteriorate.
b. The government will be in the unenviable position to enforce the restriction order (the current situation with regard to Winnie Mandela and other restrictives bears proof of how hard it is to enforce such an order). Mandela will also ignore his restriction order to taunt the government.
c. Mandela, the international community as well as the radicals/revolutionaries will not accept any form of restriction (conditional release).
d. Mandela will maintain his martyr image and internal as well as foreign attention will increasingly focus on him.
e. The government will be increasingly pressurised to lift the restriction orders.

OPTION THREE: RELEASE OUTSIDE THE BORDERS OF SOUTH AFRICA
13. Advantages
a. As the leader of the revolutionary onslaught, Mandela will lose all direct contact with the local population.
b. Mandela’s martyr image will disappear.
c. There is a slight possibility that this will lead to faction forming within the ANC.
d. The onus will be on the radicals/revolutionaries to contribute to non-violent evolutionary change in South Africa.
e. Advantages with regard to Intelligence might be obtained.

16. Disadvantages
a. Internationally as well as internally the government will be increasingly pressurised to accept Mandela as the leader of the majority of the South African population and to accommodate him politically. (This also implies that he will return to South Africa.)
b. The possibility of an exile government, led by Mandela and with considerable international support, is not excluded.
c. There is no guarantee that Mandela will not want to settle in South Africa (excluding the RSA, TBVC and National States).
d. It should be expected that the revolutionary onslaught will escalate and that political pressure on the government to give in to the demands of other revolutionaries/radicals, will increase.
e. If his family were to decide to join him, their position (“uprooted from their home land) will gain a lot of propaganda value. Their overseas activities will also cause certain problems.

OPTION FOUR: RELEASE TO THE TRANSKEI
17. Advantages
a. As the leader of the revolutionary onslaught, Mandela will lose all direct contact with the local population.
b. Mandela’s martyr image will disappear.
c. There is a slight possibility that this will lead to faction forming within the ANC.
d. The onus will be on the radicals/revolutionaries to contribute to non-violent evolutionary change in South Africa.
e. Advantages with regard to Intelligence might be obtained.

18. Disadvantages
a. The current position of Ndamase and the Matanzima family (as well as other political leaders) will be endangered and this will lead to political instability.
b. The Transkei will probably become the so-called safety haven for the ANC and its comrades.
c. Mandela will still be in a position to act from “inside the borders” of the RSA because the TBVC states do not enjoy international recognition. The disadvantages of this situation are similar to those mentioned in paragraph 12.
d. The possibility exists that the South African government will be blamed for running a pseudo operation against Mandela.

OPTION FIVE: CONTINUED INCARCERATION WITH THE POSSIBILTY OF BEING RELEASED AT A LATER STAGE
19. Advantages
a. The RSA maintains its credibility and “strong-guy” image.
b. More time will be gained to consider the release under more favourable circumstances.
c. It is possible that keeping him in prison for a longer period of time could have a negative impact on his health which would lead to him being able to lead the revolution for a shorter period of time when after his release.
d. For as long as Mandela is incarcerated, direct contact with revolutionaries/radicals (depending on their contact with Mandela in prison) will be partly diminished.
e. The positions of Buthelezi and other TBVC and National State leaders will not immediately be endangered.
f. Buthelezi as well as other TBVC leaders and the leaders of the National States have the opportunity to strengthen and consolidate their positions with regard to the ANC/SACP/UDF alliance.
g. The government has the opportunity to do psychological damage to Mandela and to discredit him as the future leader of the ANC/SACP/UDF alliance (after his release).
h. Mandela can be used in negotiations to the advantage of the RSA (e.g. for the exchange of incarcerated South African prisoners).

20. Disadvantages
a. The government will have to prepare itself for increasing international and internal pressure to unconditionally release Mandela.
b. There is the possibility of Mandela dying in prison with the implications of such an event.
c. Mandela’s martyr image will be enhanced.
d. It is possible that the government will be blackmailed by its enemies to release Mandela (e.g. by hijacking a plane or kidnapping a senior government official).
e. The government’s image of unity could be undermined by the development of undercurrents within government circles with regard to the release of Mandela.
f. Mandela uses his time in prison to teach the other prisoners about revolutionary warfare (under the present circumstances).
g. There is a danger that de facto leaders will not be willing to negotiate unless Mandela is released.

OPTION SIX: UNDETERMINED INCARCERATION
21. Advantages
a. The RSA maintains its credibility and “strong-guy” image.
b. Direct contact with revolutionaries/radicals is limited.
c. The positions of the leaders of the TBVC and National States are not endangered and they will be in a position to consolidate their positions.

22. Disadvantages
a. Internationally as well as internally the government will be increasingly pressurised to accept Mandela as the leader of the majority of the South African population and to accommodate him politically. (This also implies that he will return to South Africa.)
b. The death of Mandela in captivity will have national as well as international implications for South Africa.
c. The option of undetermined incarceration will fall away automatically if Mandela and his supporters are willing to accept his conditional release and/or the demands of the government are complied with.
d. Any de facto recognition of the ANC , either through negotiations or in any other way could affect the option of undetermined incarceration (as well as of other so-called political prisoners).

OPTION SEVEN: UNDETERMINED INCARCERATION UNDER DOMESTIC CIRCUMSTANCES (LUXURY VILLA ON ROBBEN ISLAND)
23. Advantages
a. The RSA maintains its credibility and “strong-guy” image.
b. Direct contact with revolutionaries/radicals is limited.
c. The positions of the leaders of the TBVC and National States are not endangered and they will be in position to consolidate their positions.

24. Disadvantages
a. The South African judicial system will be ridiculed. Mandela is a criminal and not a political prisoner.
b. Mandela will be in a position where he will gain unrealistic status from the government.
c. This will be regarded as a “sign of weakness” of the government and will lead to increased pressure on the government.
d. A precedent is created that will force the government to consider the positions of other security prisoners.
e. Other disadvantages - as described in paragraph 22.

OPTION EIGHT: CONDITIONAL RELEASE: RELEASE WITH REJECTION OF VIOLENCE
25. Advantages
a. The onus for release will be on Mandela and his supporters.
b. It is not expected that Mandela and his supporters will accept this option, unless the revolutionary onslaught eventually forces the government to accommodate the ANC politically.
c. Violent action by the ANC/SACP/UDF can be psychologically exploited.
d. The credibility of Mandela will be negatively affected.
e. The RSA will largely maintain its “strong-guy” -image and the impression will have been created that the RSA wants a peaceful process of political reform (evolutionary versus revolutionary).
f. The ANC/SACP/UDF will be branded as violent and revolutionary.
g. This is in line with public statements made by the government where the conditions for the release of Mandela are spelled out.

26. Disadvantages
a. Internationally as well as internally the government will be increasingly pressurised to accept Mandela as the leader of the majority of the South African population and to accommodate him politically. (This also implies that he will return to South Africa.)
b. The possibility of an exile government, led by Mandela and with considerable international support, is not excluded.
c. There is no guarantee that Mandela will not want to settle in South Africa (excluding the RSA, TBVC and National States).
d. It should be expected that the revolutionary onslaught will escalate and that political pressure on the government to give in to the demands of other revolutionaries/radicals, will increase.
e. If his family were to decide to join him, their position (“uprooted from their home land) will gain a lot of propaganda value. Their overseas activities will also cause certain problems.

OPTION NINE: A QUID PRO QUO RELEASE (EXCHANGE FOR OTHER PRISONERS)
27. Advantages
a. If the quid pro quo is of direct advantage to South Africa, the government could maintain its credibility and “strong-guy” -image.
b. This will give the government the opportunity to keep Mandela in jail for as long as it is necessary, depending on the willingness of Mandela to accept the quid pro quo conditions. (It is however highly unlikely that Mandela and his supporters will accept any quid pro quo conditions.)
c. This option is in line with public statements that have been made by the government the issue.

28. Disadvantages
a. Internationally as well as internally the government will be increasingly pressurised to accept Mandela as the leader of the majority of the South African population and to accommodate him politically. (This also implies that he will return to South Africa.)
b. The possibility of an exile government, led by Mandela and with considerable international support, is not excluded.
c. There is no guarantee that Mandela will not want to settle in South Africa (excluding the RSA, TBVC and National States).
d. It should be expected that the revolutionary onslaught will escalate and that political pressure on the government to give in to the demands of other revolutionaries/radicals, will increase.
e. If his family were to decide to join him, their position (“uprooted from their home land) will gain a lot of propaganda value. Their overseas activities will also cause certain problems.

RECOMMENDATION
29. Option five: “Continued incarceration with the possibility of being released at a later stage” is recommended under the following conditions:
a. The time must be right and the circumstances must be favourable for the RSA government.
b. Mandela must be released (to) outside the borders of Southern Africa.
c. Mandela’s physical condition must be relatively weak so as not to enable him to act as leader.
d. A well-planned, pro-active, psychological program will have to be launched during as well as after his release.

Note: Any of the options regarding the conditional release (rejecting violence, concessions made by Mandela and quid pro quo) can be used to keep Mandela in prison for a relatively long period.

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