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Political scientist turned spy chief Lukas Daniel "Niel" Barnard was just 31 when he became a full university professor.
South African president P.W. Botha tapped Barnard to head up his newly reorganized spy program, renamed the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in 1980. One of Botha's closest political advisors, Barnard became a powerful voice of pragmatism for the president.
Barnard began furtive talks with the still imprisoned Nelson Mandela in 1988. At the same time, he was the relay man to Botha for information coming out of stealth meetings in England between parties representing the ANC and South Africa's ruling class.
Barnard held his intelligence post for 12 years. In 1996, he became the director-general of provincial administration for the Western Cape. The ANC raised concerns about Barnard's appointment at that time, citing unanswered questions about the role of the NIS in political assassinations.
Barnard publicly denied any knowledge of murder, torture or other human rights violations. The ANC later withdrew its allegations against Barnard.