Cleaning Up the Brass

South Africa's De Klerk cracks down on dirty doings in the army

IT WAS A MOST UNSEASONAL ACT. DAYS BEFORE Christmas and with immediate effect, President F.W. De Klerk suspended or retired 23 of South Africa's top officers, including two generals and four brigadiers. All are under suspicion of clandestine activities -- some involving hit-squad murders -- designed to undermine his political reforms. De Klerk dismissed talk of an attempted military coup, saying there was no threat to South Africa's security. But criminal charges could follow next year. "We're not dealing with kids," he said.

All year long, De Klerk's credibility has been battered by charges of dirty dealings within his defense forces....

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