Publication: Noseweek Issued: Date: 2001-04-01 Reporter:

Bheki Jacob's Real Name




Date April 2001, Issue 32

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Bheki Jacobs' real name is Hassan Solomon and he comes from a Durban family with deep roots in the struggle. In the 80s he began working underground for the ANC, and later worked for a youth movement supported by the Diakonia ecumenical agency.

Alvin Anthony, who was employed by Diakonia in Durban in the 80s, recalls: ‘I worked closely with Jacobs. He was an extremely committed activist and very honest, actually. He was also extremely intelligent and had a very good grasp of strategic detail.'

The youth project was so successful that, by 1985, Jacobs had attracted the attention of the security police. ‘He was under a lot of pressure. If he hadn't left the country I believe he would have been killed (by the apartheid security forces),' says Anthony. ‘Only when he left did people call to say how he had helped them with their education and so on.'

Jacobs skipped the country in 1985, proceeding to Mauritius and later to the ANC camps in Zambia.

Soon after his arrival at the camps, Jacobs became involved in conflict with elements of the ANC security hierarchy, because of the corruption and exploitation that he allegedly uncovered there.

In 1986 he was thrown into the notorious Quatro prison, where he spent about five months before being rescued by Ivan Pillay, now a senior official in the South African Secret Service.

Jacobs was then deployed into the ANC's Swaziland underground network. After a crackdown by apartheid security forces, he was jailed again - by the Swazis for illegally entering that country. The Swazis eventually deported him back to Zambia.

The beginning of the 90s saw renewed conflict between Jacobs and the ANC hierarchy. This time allegedly assisted by Hein Grosskopf, he again took issue with the venality and personal corruption of many individuals within the leadership. That experience coalesced into the informal network of exiles which would ultimately form the nucleus of Congress Consultants.

Said one exile: ‘The Congress Consultants network grew as a counter to the corruption and influence of the old leadership. The support of these exiles coalesced around Thabo Mbeki as the man who had brought the war to an end and who was not associated with the excesses of the camps and structures in the Frontline states.'

But that was to come later. Meanwhile Jacobs was demobbed from MK and sent to Moscow - to further his education and, it is believed, to play a new intelligence role.

From 1992 to 1994 he was registered at Moscow State University to do a masters thesis under the tutorship of Professor Appollon Davidson in the Institute of Asian and African Studies. He also appears to have had an undercover diplomatic role in the then rapidly crumbling Soviet Union: helping to secure ‘sensitive' ANC and SACP records held there, and to facilitate the return of South African trainees and operatives who found themselves stranded at various academic and military institutions.

Someone who knew him in Moscow said Jacobs was unsettled and reluctant to return to South Africa, where he feared he might be killed by enemies in the ANC.

On his return from Moscow, however, he was accommodated briefly at the ANC guest house in Yeoville, courtesy of the party‘s Department of Intelligence and Security. A South African identity document was arranged for him in the name of Uranin Solomon. Willingly or unwillingly, he was back in the game.

With acknowledgement to Noseweek.