Om een scherpe oog in't zeil te houden : die geheime diens in die Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek
Kamffer, Hendrik Jacobus Gerhardus
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The inception of a secret service in the "Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek" (ZAR) was necessitated by concurrent circumstances in the period after the 1886 up to and including the Jameson Raid. Furthermore influence to establish a state information service was probably exerted by Dr. W.J. Leyds who was appointed attorney-general in 1884 and secretary of state in 1889. However, the man who took the first steps to appoint secret agents was the attorney-general, Advocate Ewald Esselen, who was appointed to this post in May 1894. He appointed the first two secret agents, J.W. Howcroft and G.W. Taylor, alias Taylor, in mid 1984. After Esselen's resignation all detectives, secret as well as ordinary, were placed under the control of the commissioner of police, G.J, van Niekerk. The independent "Geheime Dienst", Secret Service, was born on 30 December 1895. This office was inaugurated on the same day that Jameson first marched on to Johannesburg. Tjaart Kruger, secretary to the commissioner of police, administered the "Geheime Dienst" from his office. The Jameson Raid served as a catalyst in clinching the final establishment of the ZAR's secret service. Secret agents were also deployed sensibly and strategically correctly throughout Southern Africa. In 1896 nineteen agents and in 1897 thirty-three agents were re-numerated for services rendered. In August 1899 the "Geheime Dienst" was placed directly under Smuts's jurisdiction. Thus the institution returned to its place of birth: The attorney-general's office. In the second half of 1899 Tjaart Kruger was appointed as chief of the detective service in the attorney-general's office where he also took over control of the "Geheime Dienst". The most outstanding agent who served in the "Geheime Dienst" and who deserves to be mentioned in particular, is J.P. de la Court Schroder. Having been taken over by Smuts on the eve of the Anglo Boer War, the "Geheime Dienst" was run on a more professional basis. Secret agents for example received code names. The six weeks before the outbreak of the war, agents were strategically being deployed at the various fronts where the ZAR was being threatened. From the Natal front Eksteen, alias John, already on 2 October 1899 advised the Kruger government to invade Natal. In December 1899 a recommendation by assistant attorney-general, L.J. Jacobsz, that a separate intelligence division with Schroder in charge, should be established, was declined. However the "Geheime Dienst" was employed for a variety of activities during the war until the service died a natural death in May 1900. These tasks and activities comprised typical matters concerning the safety of the state in a situation of war. After the demise of the "Geheime Dienst", the various corps of scouts took over the task of reconnaissance and gathering of information. In terms of the definition of such a state institution, the "Geheime Dienst" complied with all the requirements. In its period of existence the service employed 116 secret agents. The "Geheime Dienst", however, did not develop to become the full-fledged organisation it deserved to be.
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