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Niel Barnard

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Title: Niel Barnard  
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Subject: State Security Agency (South Africa), Nelson Mandela, Endgame (2009 film), Barnard, Negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa
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Niel Barnard

Niël Barnard
Born Lukas Daniel Barnard
Otjiwarongo, South-West Africa.
Nationality South African
Occupation University professor and Intelligence Service Head
Known for National Intelligence Service
Spouse(s) Engela Brand
Children Nico Barnard
Hannes Barnard
Parent(s) Nicolas Evehardes Barnard
Magdalena Catharine Beukes

Dr Lukas Daniel 'Niël' Barnard (born 1949) is a former head of South Africa's National Intelligence Service and was notable for his behind-the-scenes role in preparing Nelson Mandela and South African presidents P.W. Botha and F. W. de Klerk for Mandela's eventual and, as he saw it, inevitable, release from prison and rise to political power.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Education and University career 2
  • Intelligence career 3
  • Career after the NIS 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Niël Barnard was born in 1949 in Otjiwarongo, South-West Africa.[2]:162 His father was headmaster and chief-inspector of education in SWA/Namibia.[2]:162 Barnard was in his teens at the time of the Rivonia Trial of 1963, in which Nelson Mandela and several other African National Congress leaders were convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison. He did his compulsory military service in the commando system and reached the rank of captain and then was part if the Citizen Force in Bloemfontein.[3]:Ch2 He met his wife, Engela Brand in 1968 and they married on 1 April 1972.[3]:Ch2

Education and University career

Barnard begun his education at the University of the Orange Free State in 1968 obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History.[2]:162[3]:Ch2 He followed this up by completing a Master of Arts in 1972 and a PhD in 1975.[3]:Ch2 By 1973 Barnard was a Political Science lecturer at the same university.[2]:162 In 1977 he was a Senior lecturer and by 1978 a professor of Political Studies.[2]:162

Intelligence career

He first came to the attention of P.W. Botha after he had written a PhD thesis at the University of Free State though Barnard would claim in a 1992 newspaper interview that he was unsure as to why he was chosen, not having an intelligence background.[2]:162 In the wake of the Info scandal in which the Bureau of State Security (BOSS) had become mired, Botha appointed Barnard in November 1979 to form a new intelligence service.[2]:161 He started at the Department of National Security (DONS) as Chief Deputy Secretary on 3 December 1979.[3]{rp|Ch3} He would take over at DONS on 1 June 1980 after the retirement of the existing head Alec van Wyk.[2]:162[3]:Ch2 The Department of National Security was the new name of the Bureau of State Security (B.O.S.S.) and was renamed in September 1978[2]:122 after the retirement of its head Hendrik van den Berg in June 1978.[2]:120 The National Intelligence Service came into operation in 1980.

The logic underpinning the new service was one of national security, which differed fundamentally from the state security paradigm that had underpinned BOSS. Central to this new vision was the core belief that the only way to find lasting security was to develop a nation, and that meant renegotiating the constitution to include all South Africans irrespective of race. As the head of South Africa's National Intelligence Service (NIS), he recognized that his country would have to find a political settlement to eliminate apartheid and that Nelson Mandela would have to play a fundamental role in the process. He first met with Mandela in 1988 at prison. He met many times with Mandela in order to inform him about the political situation outside the prison and advise him on how to negotiate with South African president P. W. Botha. He arranged for Mandela to be given a suit of clothes befitting a future leader, and for future meetings to take place in a private residence near the prison. While counselling both parties on how to come to some agreements on the terms for Mandela's eventual release, he arranged several more meetings. When Botha's health forced him to resign, Barnard continued to facilitate discussions between Mandela and the new president, F. W. de Klerk.

Career after the NIS

Barnard was Director of the NIS from 1980 to 1992, when he was replaced by his long standing deputy Mike Louw. In 1994 Barnard took over a post in the Department of Constitutional Development and Provincial Affairs under Roelf Meyer in the Government of National Unity.[4] It was this core logic that defined the ultimate role that Barnard was to play in creating the political climate behind the scenes for the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) that ultimately drafted the constitution underpinning the transition to democracy in 1994.[1]


Further reading

External links

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