March 7, 2013 - 17:34 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Dirk Coetzee, who led an apartheid-era death squad and later sought protection from the resistance movement that brought down South Africa's white minority government, has died, a hospital said on Thursday, March 7, according to Reuters.
Coetzee, 57, was a former police captain who blew the lid on his hit squad and fled the country in 1989, unleashing revelations that deepened the global isolation of the apartheid regime.
The commander of the covert police assassination unit based at Vlakplaas, a farm outside the capital Pretoria and a training base for hitmen targeting anti-apartheid leaders, eventually landed in London after exposing the group in an interview with a liberal Afrikaans newspaper.
Coetzee claimed responsibility for several killings of African National Congress (ANC) members. His group recruited among the ranks of blacks who left the liberation movement and turned them into killers.
But once he was in exile, he joined the ANC, became known as "Comrade Dirk" and turned to the group led by the likes of Nelson Mandela and O.R. Tambo for protection.
Coetzee proved to be a treasure chest for the ANC, shedding a light on the brutality and dirty tricks the apartheid government used to stay in power. He became an assassination target for the white-minority government.
Coetzee later returned to South Africa and became a member of the post-apartheid spy service under then President Mandela.
In 1997, he was granted amnesty by the government's Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the killing of Mxenge, who was stabbed 45 times.