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This day in history: ANC London office bombed

This day in history: ANC London office bombed

The African National Congress's office in London was bombed on Sunday March 14, 1982, by members of the South African Security Police. 

The former head of the security police, General Johann Coetzee, made the admission before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was assisted by seven accomplices, Craig Williamson, John McPherson, Roger Raven, Wybrand du Toit, John Adam, James Taylor and Eugene de Kock.

In his statement, Coetzee testified that the attack was an attempt to demoralize the ANC and express the South African government's displeasure with the British government for supporting the liberation movement. Coetzee maintained that he had acted on orders from the former Minister of Law and Order, Louis le Grange, and believed that he therefore had the full support of government. 

Coetzee also denied the intent to kill anyone, saying that the government wanted to express their displeasure with the British government, not destroy diplomatic ties. 

The decision to bomb the ANC's London headquarters followed a number of bombings perpetrated by the organisation in South Africa, the most notable being a rocket attack on the Voortrekkerhoogte military base in Pretoria in August 1981. Two British citizens, Nicolas Heath and Bonnie Lou Muller, under the alias Bonnie Heath, were identified as being involved in the attack. 

According to Roger Raven, one of the seven involved in the bombing, the initial plan had involved bombing the South African Communist Party's offices in London as well. However, that was quickly scrapped as the office was located in an urban area. 

 

Other events on this day:

1997 - Zaire leader Mobutu Sese Seko is admitted to hospital in Monaco following complications resulting from a prior surgery. While he is in hospital, rebels advanced rapidly in the eastern part of the country. By mid-May, Mobutu fled into exile in Morocco, where he died four months later. Laurent Kabila, leader of the coalition force behind the revolt, declared himself president and soon changed the name to the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

1984 - The nuclear power station at Koeberg on the Atlantic coast, 27km north of Cape Town, becomes operational, supplying electricity to the Western Cape and around 6.5% of South Africa's total electricity needs. It is the only commercial nuclear power station in Africa. 

 

1974 - Former Bafana Bafana defender Mark Fish celebrates his 43rd birthday today. Fish represented South Africa 62 times between 1993 and 2004. In South Africa, he played for Jomo Cosmos and Orland Pirates, and internationally for Lazio (Italy), Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic in England.

1898 - Woolf Barnato Joel, nephew to mining magnate Barnett Isaacs, better known as Barney Barnato, is shot and killed by Baron Von Veltheim for refusing to participate in a plot to kidnap Transvaal President Paul Kruger. 

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