Friday 29 September 2017

The Madonna's Illegitimate Daughters

This is an extract from my book A Taste of Bitter Almonds (BestRed, Cape Town, 2015) which was long-listed for the Academy of Science of South Africa's inaugural 2016 Humanities Book Award.


For me, the great untold story of South Africa is how we are, despite
three-and-a-half centuries of segregation, almost all interrelated. I’ll
never forget a coloured girlfriend of mine, tall, svelte and graceful
though she lived in a gangland ghetto, telling me how in her youth, if
anyone in her family bore a child that was fair of skin and pale of eye,
the baby would be passed on to the white side of the family because
they knew that as a ‘white’ the child stood a greater chance of leading
a privileged life. What stands out for me in her tale is not only the
emotional sacrifice of parents willing to surrender their child in the
hope of giving it a better future, but that as late as the 1970s, some
interracial families still maintained links – no doubt very clandestine
– between their differently toned wings, despite anti-miscegenation
laws aggressively enforced by the police. These linkages, which
connect the South African population across all its hues by bloodline,
are more often obscured and ignored than admitted, let alone
celebrated. Those who crossed the race line were treated as ‘race
traitors’, their audacity carrying an indelible stain of shame which
endures to this day.
Though as an anarchist I am no fan of bourgeois democracy, one
has to recognise the good when one sees it and give credit where
it is due, and James Selfe, an MP of the liberal Democratic Alliance
(DA), has submitted to Parliament what I think is a brilliant Private
Member’s Bill: under the rules, individual MPs are allowed to submit
such Bills if given the green light by the Speaker. Selfe’s Bill, if passed
into law, would see all convictions under apartheid laws that would
be unconstitutional today expunged from the record. The positive
effects of such an Act are easy to underestimate. Not only will it affect
prominent figures such as hugely respected veteran journalist Max du
Preez, who would have his ‘terrorism’ conviction for merely writing
articles expunged, allowing him at long last to travel to countries
such as the USA, but I imagine that literally thousands of poor
blacks, whose careers have been stymied by their ‘criminal’ pass law
violations under apartheid, would be able to breath a sigh of relief.
But of all the iniquitous laws on the apartheid books, none was
quite as pernicious and as sure to injure the human heart as the
Immorality Amendment Act (No. 21 of 1950). Designed to achieve the
government’s aim of maintaining white race purity, it tore families
apart and nipped great love affairs in the bud. I well remember my
former Sunday Times Durban Bureau colleague George Mahabeer, who
had given up his rock-’n-roller lifestyle as guitarist for The Flames to
settle down with Lily and raise their girls, telling me tragic tales of
stories he’d covered for the old Golden City Post about Immorality
Act trials, Security Branch raids on people’s bedrooms in their most
intimate moments, the callous display of underwear as evidence of
‘immorality’ in the courts – stories of heartbreak and suicide.
Sadly, and for reasons I fail to fathom, the Speaker of Parliament,
an ANC member, did not allow Selfe’s Bill to be debated and possibly
passed into law. It is a huge missed opportunity, and as the ‘crime’ of
lovers pitted against the state is the one that cut closest to the human
condition, I wanted to investigate Immorality Act violations up
close and personal. And yet, when I trawled through the newspaper
archives I found precious few reported cases, for convictions visited
rasskande, race shame not only on the lovers, but on the state which
convicted them as well, for it showed the permeability of apartheid’s
social walls and the failure of the racial state to contain the power
of love. Yet the trials were so traumatic and personal that unlike
political trials, where the accused had the support of a movement
fighting for democracy and where those convicted of ‘crimes’ wore
their convictions as badges of pride, the star-crossed lovers had had
their hearts torn off their sleeves, and few cared to speak of the pain.
The one landmark case that I do find in the archives, one that has
made it into the displays at the Apartheid Museum too, is the one
which cost the country some of its top talent when world-renowned
anthropologist Professor John Blacking, classified white, of
Johannesburg was convicted in 1969 of having an affair with a young
Dr Zurena Desai, classified Indian. A photograph taken outside the
court shows a handsome couple in tailored winter coats, but their
eyes are averted. Blacking and Desai emigrated to Britain to escape
the torment, but their love did not survive the trauma of the race
stigma and of exile. Blacking excelled in his field, yet Desai dropped
off the radar and I am not sure where to begin searching for her.
But there is another way into the story, and it lies in the small Free
State town of Excelsior. In those dark times – ‘evil days with stupid
laws’, as one white town official from that era potently recalls it for
me on the phone – the dorp of Excelsior, in what was then called the
Orange Free State, with a white population of only 7 000 and a tiny
township of about 150 homes, became the most infamous town in
the world. In 1971, five white men, staunch pillars of the community
from solid NP families, appeared in the dock alongside 14 black
women, accused of having broken apartheid’s race-sex law. The
world’s press had a field day over the hypocrisy of the men, and the
scandal flickered across TV screens in faraway Britain. But back in
Excelsior, there was no TV. Instead, the dolorous tones of the pipe
organ inside the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK, the Dutch
Reformed Church) echoed the gloomy sermons preaching of shame.
I’m an atheist, but as in other small towns, it is to the church that
I turn to find a starting point for my investigation and get some
direction as to whom to speak to about the old scandal. I chat in
Afrikaans to the woman organist about the history of the church
and its organ, and then about the trial that put the town on the
map. Having established a rapport, she is not shy to direct me to
the home of congregant Magrietha Bezuidenhout, who lives nearby
in a house as neat as a pin, with a small, well-maintained garden.
I call at the gate, introduce myself in old-school style, using
the formal term of address ‘U’ for ‘you’, as I was taught to do as a
boy. Bezuidenhout is clearly not pleased to have me there: I am an
unwelcome guest, summoning up ghosts from a past she would
rather had remained buried with her late husband Adam, a farmer,
whom she committed to the earth seven years ago. But her Christian
hospitality forbids her from turning me away, so she lets me inside
her voorkamer, the front room of most traditional Afrikaner homes in
which guest are entertained. The place is immaculate, with polished
wooden floors and furniture, and china in glass display cabinets
with carved claw-and-ball feet. Bezuidenhout sits ramrod straight
with tension in her chair, her steel-grey hair neatly coiffed and her
eyes unblinking as she stares at me through round spectacles that are
twenty years out of date. Gently on my side, suspiciously on hers, we
delicately negotiate her story; she doesn’t want to say anything at all,
but we soon agree that I’ll be allowed to convey the main points she
wants to get across, because of her children.
There was a time, almost four decades ago, when the outside
world – in a cacophony of flashbulbs and TV cameras – callously
intruded on her placid life as a farmer’s wife, whose days were
spent eyeing the eroded horizon for signs of rain. For Magrietha’s
heavy-drinking husband was among the white accused in the
Immorality Trial. Both he and one of his co-accused, a butcher named
Calitz who had fathered a child with one of his black workers, tried
to take their lives. Calitz died, but Adam Bezuidenhout survived the
suicide attempt, shooting his eye out in the process. Nursed back to
health by a forgiving Magrietha, he sobered up and rebuilt his life
as a good husband, father and farmer. Still, four decades later, the
aftermath of Adam’s indiscretion is clearly etched in the lines around
Bezuidenout’s pursed mouth. She is very proud of her children, that
they succeeded despite the stain on their father’s name – for it is this
last that concerns her most, that her children can make their way in
the world untainted by the sins of their father.
Maintaining her composure through sheer force of will, she tells
me, ‘It’s very heartbreaking. I don’t want to reopen old wounds.
It’s all in the past now. As a Christian, God has helped me to make
peace with it.’ But with some 12 children having resulted from those
illicit liaisons 37 years ago, true peace has proven elusive for those
residents of Excelsior with tangled bloodlines. On the phone, local
farmer Johnny van Riet, the son of Alan Paton’s friend Jean Baptist
van Riet who died last year aged 101, tells me that back in 1970–1971,
shamefaced residents of Excelsior changed their vehicles’ OXE
number plates to OT for Thaba’Nchu – anywhere but the town that
had become nicknamed ‘Sexcelsior’.
The population of Excelsior’s township, Mahlatswetsa, has
now swelled to about 25 000, while the dorp’s white population has
dwindled. Most of the accused are long gone. But some, like Calitz’s
former lover and their child, still dwell there. And so does the pain.
Strangely, the Excelsior trial – which was halted in mid-stream by
Orange Free State attorney-general Percy Yutar in order to try to
stop the media circus – did little to curb cross-race sexual relations
in subsequent years.
I travel to Mahlatswetsa, just outside of town, where I ask
librarian Michael Tladi where I can find Senki Mokgethi, on whose
mother Corina the writer Zakes Mda based the character Poppie in
his 2002 book The Madonna of Excelsior.56 The book, which conflates
Corina’s true story with the 1971 trial, is in great demand in the
township, says Tladi, but is barely spoken of in the white dorp. In
the 1970s, Senki’s father was a post office worker in another town
who came home twice a year. Corina worked as a maid in the home
of a local white man who let out a room to an Afrikaner policeman.
When Senki was about 12 or 13 years old, Corina would give him
letters to take to the white policeman. The man in turn gave him
money for his mother.
‘I realised something was going on when my sister Kedimetse was
born in 1978,’ Mokgethi, now 44, tells me when I find him at home,
after I’ve negotiated with him to get him to tell his story. ‘She was a
white person, with light skin and straight hair. Lots of people here
had relationships with white guys. Excelsior was a poor town. Most of
our men were working in the mines, and there were all these women
around who were suffering. These white guys used an opportunity. It
was abuse. If you love someone, you marry them.’ But racially mixed
marriages were outlawed in 1949 and all sexual relations between
the races the following year; the black women and their illegitimate
babies were abandoned. ‘That white guy who abused my mother,
where is he? The last time I saw him was in 1978 during my mother’s
expectancy. I heard he had died, that he had committed suicide.’
People convicted under the Immorality Act are still, outrageously,
regarded legally as criminals – and with mixed marriages a rarity
outside the bubble-world of the media, arts and politics, are still
often social outcasts. I agree to put Mokgethi in touch with Zakes
Mda, who is now lecturing in the US. Mda’s book and a 2004 TV
retrospective also ensured that the pain never went away, Mokgethi
tells me bitterly. ‘Some people don’t think before they say things.’


Wednesday 27 September 2017

The woman guerrilla commander who liberated Ukraine

Ukrainian peasant revolutionary anarchist Nestor Makhno quite rightly occupies a special place in the hearts of the oppressed, as his Revolutionary Insurgent Army of the Ukraine, which peaked at 110,000 fighters in September 1919, fought and defeated German and Austro-Hungarian imperialist occupying forces, Ukrainian nationalists, White reactionaries, and anti-Semitic pogromists - before being betrayed by the Bolsheviks whose revolution his forces had quite literally saved from extinction. But it was a woman guerrilla leader, Maria (Maroussia) Nikiforova, who paved the way for the Ukrainian Revolution of 1918-1921, a social revolution that, despite being beset on all sides by enemies, is one of the most powerful expressions of the anarchist idea in practice.over an area encompassing some 7-million people.

In January 1918, Nikivorova and her anarchist Black Guard formed a “Free Combat Druzhina,” the latter word approximating Fellowship, but referring to a band of warrior equals. It was a considerable force, consisting of an armoured train with two artillery pieces, its own cavalry and infantry detachments, five armoured cars, and fast horse-towed machine-gun carts called tatchankas. The Free Combat Druzhina installed revolutionary soviets consisting of anarchists, Bolsheviks and Left Social Revolutionaries in the cities of Kharkiv, Aleksandrovsk and Yekaterinoslav, laying the groundwork not only for the Revolution in those cities, but also for the Makhnovist army which would soon arise. These were not slender victories for Aleksandrovsk alone had a 1917 population of 52,000 and possessed huge industrial works, while Yekaterinoslav and Kharkiv were larger still.

The worker-run Railway Committees which ran the trains were mostly sympathetic to the anarchist cause and both Nikiforova and Makhno would make use of the railways to counter troop deployments by the reactionaries. The railways were also important transmitters of anarchist ideas and practices via the revolutionaries that rode the rails - and suggests deeper research needs to be undertaken into Makhnovist links with the IWW-styled coal miners in the Donbass and with a smaller but almost identical movement in Siberia, far on down the Trans-Siberian line. At the end of 1918, the Bolsheviks traitorously arrested Nikiforova, disarmed her Druzhina  and attempted to have her shot, but she was exonerated in a revolutionary tribunal and was restored to her command. She was shot on 16 September 1919 by Whites after being captured in Sevastopol on a clandestine sabotage mission. It is only since Malcolm Archibald's groundbreaking 2007 biography Atamansha that Nikiforova has started to regain her proper place in revolutionary historiography. 

The armoured train Zamurets, captured by the revolutionaries and renamed Orlik, is the type of train that gave the Free Combat Druzhina its mobility and striking force.


Tuesday 26 September 2017

Not Night, but An Absence of Stars

Not Night, but An Absence of Stars is an international, multilingual, multimedia project on massacre and memory initiated by project manager Mase Moloi (Lesotho) and co-creative directors Rasha Salti (Lebanon) and Michael Schmidt (South Africa). The project is busy putting together its Curators' Collective and so far looks like it will include curators from Iran, Russia, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, and the USA, but more will be drafted in to cover the Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi and Chinese languages in particular.

Not Night Project Manager Mase Moloi of Lesotho with Co-Creative Director Michael Schmidt of South Africa.


When we contemplate the abyss of the deliberate obliteration of individuals and entire peoples, sacrificed to political expediency, we know in our bones that massacre, torture and disappearance are employed not merely to destroy flesh, but to annihilate memory, and the very reason for being of those targeted. 
Not Night, but An Absence of Stars is an international multilingual arts project, conceived primarily as an attempt to recombine the DNA of the forsaken, to retrace the visceral, lively presence of those who have been erased, and restore their reason for being. 
Using the raw materials of history and of the heart, it is an interrogation of grief, of a marrow-deep saudade for the humanity we have lost – but also an ambient encounter with the intimate maps of memory, a forensic meditation on the subterranean architecture of rehumanisation, and an assaying of the promise of restorative justice. 


One embarkation point for African slaves headed for the American Colonies, the Senegalese island of Gorée, is called the “Point of No Return,” for many leavers their graves-to-be not even the fecund rot of far-off plantations, but the shifting grey forgetfulness of the ocean. 
The Nazis cynically nicknamed the route to the gas-chambers in their extermination camps the “Pathway to Heaven,” and the converging railway lines inexorably drawing the viewer’s eyes to the terrible terminus of Auschwitz is probably the most infamous yet indelible image of a point of no return, the ultimate mournful milepost, standing on the brink of utter annihilation, am dem abgrund [at the abyss].
Auschwitz is one of the most heavily freighted of the world’s awful exits. But there are many other points of departure that are unmarked, unremarkable, whose saturated evil is only visible to initiates of the eerie atmospherics of irrevocable oblivion.
The remote dirt airfields of Namibia from whence some 200 detainees were drugged, bludgeoned and thrown from light aircraft to drown in the Atlantic Ocean in the 1980s…
The bank of the Seine in Paris where perhaps as many as 200 Algerian protestors were murdered and thrown into the river in 1961, the “Secret Massacre” only officially admitted to in 1998…
The bland square of the town of Mueda in the far north of Mozambique where the Portuguese gunned down maybe 500 people who’d simply been asking for better wages, in an ambush in 1960…
The Katyn Forest in Poland, Tlatelolco Zocalo in Mexico City, Villa Grimaldi in Chile, Orletti Motors in Buenos Aires, Srebrenica, Beirut, Tehran, Phnom Penh, Tiananmen, Tahiti, Hiroshima… the names of some points of departure hammer down the years in the rhythm of some ghastly rollcall of the dead, drumming, worn through the fingers as the rosary and the dhikr.
The secret prisons in Rabat, the mass graves of Civil War Spain, Constantine in Algeria, Butare in southern Rwanda, Vlakplaas in South Africa… other points of departure leave no sound at all, the cries, the blackened blood and the few flowers, secretively left, long since absorbed into their tainted soil as if they never were.
In denying the night of annihilation, we “rage against the dying of the light” – yet also know that this is truly deepest night, one in which all points of light and guidance have been obliterated. So, this is an unbook of loss, an unchoir of the vanished who silently endure the crushing abyssal weight of neglect as present, unnamed unghosts, their unbeing not night, but an absence of stars. 
The pages of this project are bound neither by time, nor tears nor soil; they are scattered on the winds, ashes that sting our eyes. 

The scene of the Mueda Massacre, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, where on 16 June 1960 colonial Salazarist forces gunned down 500-600 people of colour whose leaders were meeting with the authorities to try and negotiate wage increases.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Flying the Enemy’s Flag, a review of James Ellroy’s Perfidia

In the age of sail it was an acceptable ruse de guerre to sneak up on an enemy ship flying his own colours as camouflage to get oneself to a position advantageous to a swift and successful assault; but to fail to run up one’s own colours before actually attacking and attempting to kill or seize the prize was ungentlemanly conduct known as perfidy. 
The theme was applied to love and betrayal by Mexican composer Alberto Domiguez for his song Perfidia which became a 1940 hit for Xavier Cugat, band-leader at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City during WWII – and now crime noire don James Ellroy has employed it as the treacherous heart of his latest novel, Perfidia, revolving around Japanese fifth-column activity in LA in the weeks after Pearl Harbour. 
In tune with this age’s fascination for prequel narratives of popular works, Perfidia lays the groundwork for Ellroy’s LA Quartet of novels: The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential, and White Jazz. Of those, the first three – Dahlia and Confidential were made into compelling films – are masterful but the final volume runs out of steam and appears to lose its way off the central narrative.
That is despite the fact that the central figure in the last three novels is former IRA gunman turned brutal LA policeman on the make Captain Dudley Smith, a great literary creation at the nexus of the torsion between shady cops and the criminal underworld of 1946-1958 Los Angeles. 
But in Perfidia, which covers only 6-29 December 1941, the Dudster, then just a sergeant, is on the rise, exploiting his confessional ties to JFK’s bootlegging father Joe Kennedy, to Chinese tong boss Uncle Ace Kwan, and to Mexican blackshirt state policeman Carlos Madrano, his killer instinct honed by a racist and yet entirely opportunistic Irish Catholicism, and abetted by a deliciously droll patter delivered in a seductive brogue.
Many other Quartet figures find their first breath here, but one stellar entry who only passes by in The Black Dahlia is 21-year-old Midwestern farmgirl Kay Lake, an arriviste ingénue and quick-study whose penetrating personal diary forms the connecting tissue of the narrative. Lake’s pitiless yet charming self-assessments of her own perfidy are stunning and deliver a nuanced, flawed, dynamic character worthy of big screen treatment. 
Ditto for the rapid evolution of the moral ambivalence of closeted young queer Japanese police forensics buff Dr Hideo Ashida, desperate to prove his worth to bad men like Sergeant Smith in order to gain protection for his brother Akira and their drunken, Tojo-supporting mother Mariko as it swiftly becomes clear the country’s Japanese population are headed for mass wartime internment.
For Ellroy fans, although his inimitable blend of fictional and true-life characters remains, there are several departures from his usual style. For one thing, James Ellroy is the anti-James Lee Burke; where Burke’s denouements resolve high dudgeon with an unusual quietness, Ellroy is infused with the Götterdämmerung of his native Hollywood and his novels end not with a whimper but a bang – yet here, the key mystery of the novel – who murdered the fifth columnist Watanabe family, trying to make it appear like a family suicide, and how is this linked to plans to profiteer from the looming mass internments – is resolved with somewhat unseemly, almost offhanded speed. 
Then, apart from Lake’s diary, Ellroy’s usual technique of using FBI memos and other quasi-documentary snippets to link the narrative are gone. And despite the fact that the entire book is driven by a visceral exploration of post-Pearl Harbour anti-Japanese animus, often referencing a then-still-potent domestic and international fascism, Ellroy has tempered the racist language that marked – some would argue, marred – all his other works, in particular the brilliant Underworld USA Trilogy which covers the dramatic seven years from 1958-1972 covering the JFK assassination and its aftermath from the perspectives of them what done it. Perfidia is not quite up to the Trilogy’s standard, but will prove more than satisfactory to those readers hungry for a foretaste of the characters that made three-quarters of the LA Quartet great.


Tuesday 5 September 2017

The Bushveld Bomb

A colour photograph for sale in a Johannesburg store shows an eerily calm scene: under a beautiful deep blue, cloud-flocked sky, the gleaming silver of a sleek aircraft parked on a sandy field, a red fire extinguisher standing by its nose-wheels, with an identical aircraft standing in the background.
The place is Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean group of the Marshalls, the plane is a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber and it has “Enola Gay” written prominently on its nose. The image is signed in blue pen “Dutch Van Kirk Navigator Hiroshima – Enola Gay – 6 Aug. 1945.” The aircraft in the background is “Bockscar,” which dropped the bomb on Nagasaki.
In a week in which Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un traded threats of nuclear annihilation, a new exhibition in Johannesburg recalls the obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a loss of some 226,000 lives. 
The Atomic Bomb and Human Rights Exhibition at the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre has at its epicentre the story of Sadako Sasaki, who was two when Hiroshima was incinerated and who died of the resulting leukaemia ten years later – her habit of folding origami paper cranes becoming a global symbol of the anti-nuke movement.
In honouring South Africa as the only country to have voluntarily dismantled its nuclear weapons, Kazumi Matsui, the mayor of Hiroshima, in a message for the exhibition’s opening, noted that although the “absolute evil” of the nuke which destroyed his city in 1945 had resulted in deep hurt that still persisted today, now, 72 years later, “there are approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world,” most far more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb.
Public knowledge of the South African nuke programme only emerged very incrementally following President FW de Klerk’s bombshell announcement in Parliament on 24 March 1993 that the country had developed “a limited nuclear deterrent capability” but that it had been “dismantled and destroyed.”
Details were deliberately vague and it was only a decade later, in 2003, that more information was revealed when former atomic war-chief Lt Gen Jan van Loggerenberg, former Armscor research-and-development head Dr Hannes Steyn and former Atomic Energy Corporation (AEC) head Dr Richard van der Walt released their book Armament and Disarmament. 
That book sketched the programme’s development from the initial decision to build nukes in 1978 until the project was wrapped up in 1991. Its primary new contributions included how the SA bomb – a gun-type device in the tail section that would fire a uranium projectile into an enriched-uranium core in the nose section – were tightly controlled via a parallel system of half authorisation codes required to be matched in order to allow the removal of a tail and a nose from separate armoured safes at the secret Advena facility near Pelindaba. More rules determined how the sections would be united and the nuke armed. 
In an interview with me in 2004, van Loggerenberg revealed that they had developed all-terrain launch vehicles for nuke-tipped missiles “to ensure survivability from possible pre-emptive strike” and to make it very hard for enemy reconnaissance to pinpoint the launch site.
The latest book on what they call “the bomb in the bushveld,” The Bomb, is by former AEC nuclear physicist Nic von Weilligh and his daughter Lydia von Weilligh-Steyn in which for the first time, the individual devices are properly identified. Starting in 1979, a “300 series” eventually developed into five pre-production models – two of which were of such high quality that one, 305, was retained as a training device called Hobo after its warhead was removed and integrated into the first production model called Cabot in December 1982 – “a Christmas gift for PW Botha.” 
A production series of true nuclear weapons then started with the completion in November 1979 of Video – later renamed Melba and used as a demo model – plus Cabot, 306 which was upgraded into an active device, and the “500 series” of live nukes produced between 1988 and 1989, giving a total of six operational fission weapons with yields of 10-18kt, equivalent to the Hiroshima bomb’s 15kt.
The authors relate a scary tale of what happened when Video was hidden in a disused coal mine outside Witbank – Advena not yet having been built. Arriving with the nuke at 3am one night, Dr van der Walt decided to have wheels of the nuke’s trolley removed “to make it more difficult to steal”. One of the builders of Video recalled: “I started unscrewing the nuts on one wheel in the dark…The mine was pitch-dark… Then I saw that I was busy trying to unscrew a split rim. If it had blown out it would have taken my head off.”
The authors are equivocal on the famous incident of 22 September 1979 when a US spy satellite picked up the telltale double-flash of a nuclear detonation over SA’s Prince Edward Islands possessions – despite corroborating seismic and fallout evidence that a 3kt device had been detonated, probably an Israeli missile test fired from Overberg in the Cape with SA observing.
But The Bomb’s real new revelation is that the apartheid state wanted more than six operational nukes. In November 1986, a new nuclear weapons deterrence strategy was approved by Defence Minister Magnus Malan and President PW Botha that called for one demonstration model, three gun-type nuclear weapons that could be delivered by ballistic missiles, and three “boosted” versions (with a yield five times larger) that would be delivered by medium-range missiles, plus another seven weapons which could be delivered by aircraft. 
And a massive new facility was planned to produce weapons-grade plutonium and other heavy metals – aiming at thermonuclear fusion bomb with a yield of around 100kt that would be delivered by intermediate-range ballistic missile. But In the 1986 strategy’s worst-case scenario, of SA facing a losing war, the nukes would have not been used strategically against enemy capitals like Luanda, but rather tactically in support of naval and ground forces. So despite possessing six Hiroshima-type atom bombs, the apartheid war-chiefs stopped short of a “Hiroshima solution” to win the Bush War.


* Post-script: my own book, Drinking With Ghosts, has a chapter on the apartheid nuke programme, but The Bomb adds more valuable detail.