Dirk Coetzee

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Throughout the 1980s, Dirk Coetzee had been a commander of the notorious Vlakplaas unit which was based some twenty miles outside Pretoria. Until 1989, that is, when Coetzee saw that the Apartheid game was probably up and deserted Vlakplaas, making contact with the ANC in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia - which in previous British colonial times was described as 'Northern Rhodesia'.[1]

Loyalist assassination plot

Coetzee testified to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission about loyalist involvement in a plot on his life in London in 1992.

Were there any other attempts on your life? --- There was - well, one well documented one in Britain, Mr Chairman, when on the 11th of April 1992 Captain Pamela du Rand and Lieutenant Leon Flores met with the Ulster Royalists, terrorists in Northern Ireland, to negotiate a contract murder on my life. They were eventually arrested on the 15th of April 1992 by Scotland Yard, and held at the Paddington Green Police Station under the Terrorism Act. A lot of communiques went out between the ... (incomplete - end of Side A, Tape 3) ... of all these attempts, and to know that I am one step ahead.[2]

Willem Nortje also testified to the Commission about the plot:

One evening I was at Flores' home when we met Simpson, and there it was not directly stated, I don't know what Flores and Simpson spoke about, but I came to know through Mr de Kock that he would launch an action to get to Mr Coetzee via the Irish Organisation, RUC or something like that.

According to Nortje, the assasination was to be procured by Charlie Simpson, an Ulster loyalist who the South Africans believed to be a British agent.

MR LAX: And I didn't catch the full extent of your evidence in relation to that incident and I just wanted to re-canvass it with you please. What exactly did you pick up from Simpson on that night in relation to their discussion? What was his task?
MR NORTJE: You must just remember that we knew he was an MI6 agent. Mr de Kock handled him with care, he also did not trust him so he wouldn't have told him directly what we wanted, but after the discussion and after we left, there was talk about the fact that he had contacts with this group in Ireland who did this type of work and that is the assassination of a person, so that was still the beginning of the process, so far as I can remember, they just talked about it.




  1. A Very British Jihad, Collusion, Conspiracy & Cover-up in Northern Ireland, by Paul Larkin, Beyond the Pale, 2004, p199.
  2. Proceedings held at Durban on 5 November 1996.South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
  3. Amnesty Transcript Hearing, South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 17 November 1999.