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Subject Van Tonder, C.J. (Neels) SSAS SD SM, Major General:
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Posted:5/28/2019 4:13:37 AM
Information received from his son, Nelius van Tonder:

Genl Van Tonder grew up in Nelspruit, eastern Transvaal, and matriculated at the Nelspruit High School in 1959 with distinctions in mathematics, science and German. He thereafter attended the University of Pretoria and obtained the B.Sc. in 1963 with majors in maths and applied maths. He initially worked as a maths teacher but joined the DMI shortly thereafter in March 1964. From his appointment until 1966 he was a desk officer for scientific intelligence. He was then appointed military intelligence liaison office at the South African embassy in Paris from April 1967 to 1970 - responsible for liaison with the French intelligence service and Francophone African countries. During this time he was promoted to the rank of Major.

Upon his return to the RSA he assisted Gen Fritz Loots with the establishment of the first Reconnaissance Commandos (the “Reccess”, later to become the SA Special Forces). He returned to MID in 1973 and from then to 1981 he held various desk positions, which were all related to the collation and evaluation of information. He was appointed to the Sub-Section Studies, Section Research in about 1972; then from 1976 to 1978 he was appointed Director of the Directorate Research. He was promoted to Commandant and later Colonel during this decade.

In 1982 and 1983 he was responsible for special projects or special tasks in SWA, and promoted to Brigadier. He was then appointed director DST (Nov 1983 – Apr 1986), “Special Tasks”, before being promoted to Major General and being appointed as Chief Director Military Intelligence, Evaluation Division, from April 1986 to October 1986. When the Directorate Special Tasks was upgraded to a Sub-Division Intelligence Operations (SDIO) he was transferred back as its first Chief Director in Oct 1986 – responsible for Special Intelligence Projects. During the period 1988 to 1990 he was also a member of the SA military team that negotiated with Angolan, Russian, Cuban and American representatives regarding the independence of SWA/ Namibia. In August 1989 he had a very serious car accident, which put him out of action for many months and which forced the CSI to move a number of directorates and sections out of the SDIO. He was only able to return to work in January 1990.

He left MID in late 1990. From 1990 to 1991 he was appointed the Special Military representative for Africa, which functions included support to the government of Angola and UNITA to reach a settlement agreement.
In July 1991 he retired from the SADF, after 27 years and 4 months of service.
His medals and decorations include the Star of Africa (Silver), Southern Cross Decoration, Southern Cross Medal, Chief of the SADF Commendation and Good Service Medal Silver (20 years).

Maj Gen van Tonder was very well known internationally by senior people in western intelligence agencies, and often affectionately referred to worldwide as "Smiley" (after George Smiley from the John Le Carre novels) without good reason!

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Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET

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