1978: Pieter W. Botha takes over as prime minister and later creates the State Security Council (SSC), enabling the military to become the dominant influence in government.
1986: Government declares state of emergency as black uprising mounts. Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) is formed to destabilize opponents.
April 1989: United Nations intervention in Namibia. Controversial 32nd "Buffalo" battalion and police counterinsurgency unit return to South Africa.
Oct. 1989: Details of police death squads disclosed by a South African police captain, Dirk Coetzee. CCB exposed in South African press.
Feb. 1990: President Frederik de Klerk legalizes African National Congress and appoints judicial commission to investigate death squads and the CCB.
May 1990: Senior military officers stonewall commission and destroy evidence of CCB activities.
July 1990: CCB is disbanded.
Sept. 1990: ANC suspends "armed struggle" and political violence erupts in black townships around Johannesburg.
Oct. 1990: De Klerk downgrades SSC.
Nov. 1990: Abortive judicial inquiry finds no evidence of state-sanctioned police hit squads but implicates disbanded CCB in murders and dirty tricks.
July 1991: Clandestine government funding and training of Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party revealed. De Klerk terminates all assistance to Inkatha and other groups.
Sept. 1991: Government, ANC, and Inkatha sign National Peace Accord, but still violence escalates.
Dec. 1991: Convention for a Democratic South Africa is inaugurated. Commission of Inquiry into Political Violence, chaired by Judge Richard Goldstone, starts hearings.
April 1992: A white police captain and four black policemen are found guilty of the December 1988 massacre of 11 black civilians and major police cover-up is revealed.
May 8, 1992: New Nation weekly reprints an official cable linking death of activist Matthew Goniwe with senior military intelligence official. De Klerk announces a new inquiry into the case.
June 17, 1992: Forty-two blacks massacred at Boipatong. Eyewitnesses suggest collaboration by police and pro-Inkatha Zulus.
Aug. 10, 1992: UN Secretary-General calls for Judge Goldstone to conduct full probe into security forces. Goldstone agrees and suggests an amnest to assist the investigation. Government accepts proposal in principle.