About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

06 Jan 1992: Heyns, Johan

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POM. Since we visited with you 18 months ago, it was in July 1990, the process had more or less just gotten under way, there was a good deal of optimism in fact in the country, a lot of attention being paid to the special chemistry that seemed to exist between Mr Mandela and Mr de Klerk and then you had the outbreak of violence in the townships in August 1990 following the Pretoria Minute and a much more rocky and more difficult road since that time, but the process has managed to keep on track. Could you perhaps give us your whole assessment of those last 18 months and why, despite all the difficulties, you do have the major parties, although not all of the parties but certainly the major parties at the negotiating table?

JH. Well, let me start by saying that first of all I think it is important to be reminded that as the process went on there was also an intensification, I would like to call it, of the reaction against the process especially from the far right, and of course from the far left, but I am now primarily concerned with the reaction from the far right because as I said, as the process went on, it became clear that it is indeed a reversible process and that irreversibility implies to the people from the far right grouping the fact as they perceive things, that there's going to be a black majority rule, the whites will not be in the same position as they were for the last three and a half centuries and that created in those circles a determination and even a willingness to fight, as they said, for the rights of the whites.

. And I am particularly concerned about this reaction from the right. The mere fact that they were not present at the Peace Accord on the 14th September, the mere fact that they were not present at CODESA, I think has put us, at least in theory at this stage, on the road to a Northern Ireland situation. I wouldn't be surprised if we had embarked on a completely new road in our history and in that of violent resistance in a terroristic sort of manner, because they feel that that is the only way for in order to manifest their resistance. They have asked for a general election. That was denied to them by the State President and now that is to them the only alternative and therefore I am very, very concerned about it. I wouldn't be surprised if we even would have a civil war, rebellion, whatever you like, before things were put on a normal level in South Africa.

POM. What has led you to come that far in your thinking? Is it because of what comes back to you from Ministers in the Church, from your own conversations with people?

JH. OK, I would say that is based on my observation on what is being said in private conversations, on what is being written, on what is being said on our television programmes. As a matter of fact this very morning on the radio after seven, Eugene Terre'Blanche and some of the far right leaders spoke about what they called a private army. And they justified the idea of the Afrikaner volk to have an army to fight for their rights. And not only the far right leaders but also a man like Andries Treurnicht, the leader of the Conservative Party, made utterances which I think are very, very dangerous in so far as it creates a certain atmosphere, a spirit, conducive to this sort of violent reaction.

POM. We interviewed Dr. Treurnicht last August, just after Ventersdorp and were really surprised at the extent to which he seemed willing to contemplate a more or less informal alliance between the AWB and the Conservative Party. You are raising a lot of questions in a way that I was going to ask you. Here you have people who are convinced of the righteousness of their cause, the preservation of the Afrikaner way of life, the preservation of their culture, their identity as they see it. What does your church say to these people? How do you administer, how do you minister to them?

JH. Yes, it's not so easy to answer that question because you might know that Treurnicht is a member of my church. He used to be a Minister you know, of the Dutch Reformed Church, for many years.

POM. Who used to be?

JH. Andries Treurnicht.

POM. He used to be? I didn't know that, no.

JH. Oh yes. He had theological training at the University of Stellenbosch. He entered the Ministry and he was an active Minister in the Dutch Reformed Church for many years and after that he became the Editor of our Church Journal, called Die Kerkbode, and there he was for a few years, I'm not quite sure how long, but then he went to a newspaper called Die Hoofstad here in Pretoria. And then from there he went into politics. So he has that church background. He was a Minister as I said. Now that we have said in 1990 that even in 1986 in the document I believe I gave you, Church and Society, I'm not quite sure whether I've given you the latest one, 1990?

POM. You haven't, no.

JH. Well that you must have, Church and Society, that is a very, very important document as far as the Dutch Reformed Church is concerned. As a matter of fact as far as the whole situation in South Africa is concerned because in the latest document called Church and Society, we said apartheid is sin. Then Treurnicht immediately reacted to that and he said, "If that is true, which I deny", according to Treurnicht, "then I now urge you to discipline me, that is to say, ban me from our church." We have had so many discussions with Treurnicht trying to convince him of the correctness of our new views and, of course, he wouldn't be in a position even to listen to us. At our last meeting, only five minutes after we have started, he went so furious because we have said, look let's discuss the whole concept of apartheid. If you do not agree with our definition of apartheid then what is your definition of apartheid and how would you define your political model of partition? And he got so furious with us that he left the room only five minutes after we have started. So I would say it is a very, very problematic situation at the present moment. After that we wrote so many letters, he wrote back. That is now the position. It seemed to us that conversation with Treurnicht is completely impossible. What at the same time really concerned me very, very heavily is the fact that there is a fanaticism with him and with the far right I would say, which I personally interpreted as religious fanaticism.

POM. As religious?

JH. Religious fanaticism, and that is the most dangerous form of any fanaticism because once you start from the idea that God is on our side and we are fighting His cause, once you start from the starting point that we have a divine calling to preserve the identity of the Afrikaner, the road is open, the way is open even to use violent methods to achieve exactly that ideal. That is exactly where we are now with the far right people. Religious fanaticism. All of them. It is a direct divine calling from God. Terre'Blanche the other day said in a television interview, "We've asked God for our land and He has responded positively. He gave this land to us, the Boers, the Afrikaners, the white Afrikaners. And therefore we would not be willing to give it away. And if then that is the implication of the policy of de Klerk we will fight to retain our God-given gift to us." That is very, very dangerous language. We are on the brink of a war.

POM. Do you think this is understood by the government, how deeply entrenched this opposition is, that it's presenting de Klerk with an enormously difficult dilemma in the sense of his using a referendum to look for constitutional change.

JH. I think this type of resistance from the far right puts de Klerk in an awkward position. He is bound by his promise to go back to the white electorate. Now what's going to be the situation? There's increasing support for these ideas of Treurnicht. What's going to be the position if he lost that referendum?

POM. As a moral proposition how would the morality of this work out? There are really two questions; one, since de Klerk gave an undertaking as a public figure that change would be submitted to the people for their approval, if in the event that he will not do that and looks for some way to circumvent it, do the people who oppose him, unable to use the ballot box to express their opposition, have justification for resorting to more militant forms of opposition?

JH. Well of course it's very difficult for me to predict how he will react. I believe that he will do it, he will be morally bound to honour his word. He will do it. As I know de Klerk he will do it. If then he eventually would lose the referendum then obviously there would be only one alternative left open and that would be to go back to the drawing board. Then the whole process will start right from the beginning. But he personally is very, very optimistic about the possible outcome of a constitution that could be presented in such a form that it would be acceptable to the white electorate.

POM. Do you think, again from your conversations with people, that the ANC, for example, are more sensitive to the dilemma that de Klerk has and to the fact that this threat of right wing violence is far more serious than they might have thought two years ago?

JH. I had several private discussions with Mandela. I'm not going to tell you exactly what the agenda was but I can tell you this much that I was amazed at the extent of the apprehension of Mandela of the situation of de Klerk and the position of the whites in this country. I was amazed. So as far as that aspect is concerned, I am very optimistic about the possible future approach and attitude of the ANC. But having said this I immediately must add that the ANC is not a monolithic group of people. That is perhaps well known to everybody in this country and to you as well. There are so many tensions within the ANC, there are so many different views within the ANC that I wouldn't be in a position to predict any outcome of it. But as far as Mandela is concerned, I'm referring especially to Mandela's own views, and I think that he understands and appreciates the very, very awkward position in which de Klerk is in vis-à-vis the reaction from the right.

POM. Is this in any sense again, did it come up in your conversations with Mandela, but just as the government is in a sense constrained by how far it can go by this potential violent backlash, is the ANC similarly constrained that if they appear to be giving up too much that the PAC, for example, becomes the magnet to attract more militant forms of opposition among blacks to have what they would perceive as being half-measured change.

JH. I think that is more or less correct, your observation. I think that is true and I think that is also true of various utterances made by Mandela and certain views and arguments put forward by Mandela to understand and to accommodate on the one side the PAC, to the left I would say, and then at the same time trying to contribute towards a conciliation with the right wing in Afrikaner circles. I think Mandela senses that very, very well and he's trying to bring those people together because both the ANC and the government acknowledge the fact that they have here a very important section of the white population. After all the conservatives represent at least 35% to 40% of white Afrikaners in our population. That is quite a remarkable percentage and you have to take that into consideration. And if you really want to come to terms with the situation and if you really want to write a new constitution, which naturally all people must agree to or support or accept, then what about the 35% - 40% if they are not there?

. Hence my statement at the beginning of our conversation that absence has put us on the road to a Northern Ireland situation unless they, in due course, decide to join the different committees that were now erected and established during the CODESA conference, which is not impossible.

. In your conversations with the right wing I think you will sense that there are eternal differences. They have also their left and right wing, within the Conservatives. If you consider Koos van der Merwe and the Mulders and Mr. Pienaar of the Free State to be the left and Hartzenberg and some others to the right and in between you have the position of Treurnicht as a leader trying to keep the whole bunch together. But it is not impossible and I'm not a politician to predict what's going to happen there but I think it's quite obvious that eventually van der Merwe and his followers will indeed join the conversation at the conversation table. I believe that.

POM. We had a number of conversations with him (van der Merwe) over the last couple of years and I think we would find him leaning increasingly in that direction. In fact that he may have decided it in his head but that his heart hasn't quite got to that point.

JH. I think the position is now, according to a conversation I had with him, is that he is waiting for the right time. The opportune time hasn't arrived yet. But he's waiting for that timeous moment, the moment of decision. But I think for a politician that is very important. Timing is of the utmost importance, perhaps even more important than what's going to be said at this particular time.

POM. Let me just go back for a moment. You're raising so many questions it's difficult to think of you being able to answer them all.

JH. I know that you expect from me answers, not questions.

POM. No, I like answers that lead to further questions.

JH. But I would like to link up with a question which I haven't answered yet, at least not completely to your satisfaction, and that is: what now is the role of the church, how do you deal with the situation? Now given this polarisation in our situation in South Africa I think the only task, the only role the church can play is that of reconciliation.

POM. Reconciliation?

JH. Is that of trying to bring people together. Is that of trying to change people's hearts. Is that of changing people's attitude towards one another. Because of the fact that the church believes that a new constitution, a new political structure, will not solve our problems because we do not have primarily a political problem. We have primarily a religious ethical problem and by that I mean that unless we in this country accept one another as human beings created in the image of God with certain basic human rights and human responsibility, we will never ever solve our problems. And that holds true not only for the relations between whites and blacks but also for the relations between whites and whites. We simply have to accept the fact that people differ. We have to accept the fact in relations between whites and blacks, that blacks are no longer labour units and they have to accept that we are not only subjects of oppression and exploitation, that we have now entered into a completely new phase in our history. We have had a position of exclusive white domination for three and a half centuries and a period of 30 to 40 years of apartheid. That has come to an end. We have had a guardianship relationship between whites and blacks because whites have immediately accepted themselves, even way back to 1652 when van Riebeeck came to this country, as the "guardians" of these people, of these blacks. Out of that a guardianship relationship was born. Now we've entered into a completely phase. That was the situation for three and a half centuries. Now this situation has come to reality and that is that a partnership. Now how do we accept one another as partners? Once again I would say that could be done only on the basis of a new attitude, of a willingness to accept the other person whether he's white or black as my partner on an equal basis, of humanity that's been given to us by God himself and on that basis we now have to accept one another as partners.

POM. There are two parts in that that I'd like to go back on. One is, I told you this weekend we were in Zeerust where there is a very conservative Town Council but one which is quite willing to have far more resources spent on blacks, whether it's for recreational facilities or their schools, who accept that black schools should be as good as white schools, that the recreational facilities available to whites should be available to blacks, believing in equality but separation. How do you assess that in terms of its ethics, one, the ethicality of that and the second part goes back to the first question of ministering to your flock. One young man we talked to, 18 years of age, just finished high school, very calmly said that when the time came he would join a right wing paramilitary organisation and take up arms against the state to prevent the process of a universal franchise taking effect and he did it for the reasons you've advanced, for God, for country, to preserve my identity, for a historical mandate to maintain the Afrikaner nation. How would a Minister advise this young man? Can he say that to do this is wrong? That to use violence is wrong? That it is even evil to do so? Or can you in pursuit of an immoral end act morally? Or an ethical end, still act ethically within the context if you believe it's ethical?

JH. Well as far as your first question is concerned I believe that a solution on the basis of separateness, because that is what actually is implied by what you've said in your first remark, is not per se unethical unless, on one condition, and that is if that separateness is accepted by all parties concerned. Because you must make a very clear distinction between separateness and apartheid. All apartheid is separateness, but all separateness is not apartheid. Apartheid is legally forced separateness without the consent and even contrary to the will and the wishes of the blacks and the Coloureds and the Indians. That was apartheid. If we could work out a political system on the basis of voluntary separateness that would be in principle not unethical I would say. But I doubt whether that is viable. I doubt whether that would be acceptable to the different sections in our population. Your second question: I would answer a young man who has those intentions and ideals that given the process and given the policy of reform in our country, that would be completely unacceptable to resist in that violent manner the policy of the present government because what is now presently trying to be worked out is exactly a new dispensation and I do not think that we can materialise a new dispensation by violent methods. I believe that we can work it out only by mutual agreement, by bringing all the different parties to the negotiation table, by a policy of consensus and not by a policy of violent resistance.

POM. Let me ask a hypothetical, and when I ask hypotheticals many people tell me they don't have their hypotheticals. But if, say, for one reason or another de Klerk did not go back to the white population and put the proposals for a new constitution just before them, living up to his promise that, "I will consult you and I will go along with the results of the referendum". If for one reason or another he did not do that but rather embarked in a more prolonged process with the consent, say, of Mandela and the ANC where you had an interim government that was there for a longer and longer period of time, in the event of him not keeping that promise would this young man be justified in saying the only option left to me at this point to register my opposition, my deep-rooted opposition, is through the use of violence?

JH. Well you see the Christian ethics do make provision for violent reaction in principle, but then only as a last resort, 'intima grazio'(??). When all other possibilities have failed, then in principle it would be possible to use violence to change position, that is the principal remark I would like to make. If that hypothetical position would become reality I would say that would surely result in political chaos because if he does not honour his word of going back to the white electorate he will be rejected by his own people not only by the far right wing, but then he would be rejected by his own people because that would be considered as immoral.

POM. As immoral.

JH. Yes. That would be considered as immoral. He would be rejected and that would end in chaos, well as far as white politics is concerned. And if you have chaos in white politics you have chaos in general in our country. No, I don't think for one moment that he would do that. If he'd do that then he must face the consequences. Then I think a situation has arrived where one could consider a moral defensible position of violent reaction.

POM. Using the principles you have set out, would the ANC's resort to violence since the sixties, between the sixties and the nineties, have been morally justifiable?

JH. To the extent that they haven't had access to the political machinery and the decision making in general, to the extent that there was no mechanism for them, I think that was in principle justifiable.

POM. What I'd like you to do for a minute would be to run me through the process the Dutch Reformed Church went through to arrive at the conclusion that apartheid was sinful.

JH. Let me start by saying it is true that we initially not only accepted the policy of apartheid, we even tried to give it a biblical/ethical justification out of which came what you can call a theology of apartheid. We did indeed try to justify that on biblical/ethical grounds. But right from the beginning, that is to say right from 1948 when the present government came into power, May of that year, there were in the Dutch Reformed Church individuals theologians who objected against this official view of the church propagated by the majority in the church and by especially the Synods, that is to say the body of highest authority in our church. That is the first reason for this change, the individual theologians who reacted against the official view of the church.

. Secondly, in our so-called younger churches, that is to say the Dutch Reformed Church for the blacks, the Indians and the Coloureds, we call them our younger churches, earlier on we called them our daughter churches, but nevertheless from the beginning they were very, very strongly against the position of the white Dutch Reformed Church. As a matter of fact even way back in 1948 the Coloured church in the Cape said apartheid is sin. So there was a strong criticism coming from our own churches.

. Thirdly, there was also a very strong criticism from churches right over the world telling us that it's not justifiable, telling us that we are pursuing a wrong, unbiblical, unethical theology and ethics.

. And eventually, fourthly, I would say, the on-going struggle within the Dutch Reformed Church with the message of scripture as far as politics is concerned inspired by the individual theologians eventually end up in the fact that at the Synod of 1986 we could have adopted a report in which we have said we cannot defend any political moral on biblical grounds because that would make the Bible a manual, a political handbook and you cannot misuse the Bible in that sense. I would say that eventually it was a combination of these different reasons, causes why we ended that end position in 1986, where we've made a complete U-turn. And then we've revised that edition and adopted that report once again in 1990, October of that year, and we went a step further than 1986 and said apartheid is sin. It was a long process.

POM. In the end was it a divisive process? You talked about the need for reconciliation between blacks and whites and whites and whites and blacks and blacks. Is there an on-going process of reconciliation within your own church or are there still large numbers of Ministers who do not agree that apartheid is a sin?

JH. Yes, to that extent as a matter of fact in 1987, a year after, well even shorter than that, 6/7 months, 7 months exactly, in June of that year 1986 there was a split in the Dutch Reformed Church. 30,000 members went out, 70 Ministers went out and they've established a completely new church called the Afrikaans Protestant Church and they've added to that a church for white Afrikaners only. So we had a split in our church already in 1987 and unfortunately, or fortunately I'm not quite sure, but in any case not all who were in opposition to the document Church and Society, not all went out. A large number stayed in the Dutch Reformed Church. For instance Treurnicht himself, he hasn't left the church, he's still within the church and they are forming a group within the church trying to put us back on track.

POM. There is a peculiar parallel to Northern Ireland where the church, of course, vehemently condemns, the Catholic Church vehemently condemns the IRA's use of violence, yet there are individual priests within the church who believe that what the IRA is trying to achieve through the use of violence is in fact the legitimate use of the only means available to achieve a moral end. So you have this dichotomy, you have the church hierarchy in particular vehemently opposing the use of violence and it is official church policy that violence on every occasion must be condemned but as you move more into what might be called communities which would be IRA strongholds you find the individual priest with a different attitude. Does that kind of situation pertain in the Dutch Reform Church where in some congregations, in particular conservative districts, you would have a Minister who believes in fact that the possible use of violence is justified?

JH. Yes. I think that is a very interesting parallel but not as far as the use of violence is concerned. I won't say that we have individual Ministers in our church who indeed would support a violent means of change. No, they all agreed with our principle as far as violence is concerned. But what is indeed a situation is that while the church leadership, and we have one General Synod and then eleven different regional Synods, all those different regional Synods have accepted Church and Society, that is to say have accepted the official position of the church. But in spite of the fact that that is the situation as far as the Synod is concerned, we have individual Ministers who surely support Treurnicht and support the idea that we should go back to a position previous to that of 1948, that is to say a restoration of the apartheid era in spite of the fact that what has been said on the synodical level. Now that is correct. As a matter of fact they've even formed what they call a League within the Dutch Reform Church, and the leader of that League is a previous colleague of mine Carel Boshoff. I now believe that he is also on your list.

POM. Yes I've talked to him.

JH. Carel Boshoff is leading this group, dissidents within the church, being the son-in-law of Verwoerd and being very, very enthusiastic about a white homeland for the Afrikaner.

POM. In fact we visited last summer their settlement in Orania and we're going after we see you to see Professor Joseph Henning who is I guess one of the main organisers of that community.

JH. That's right. No, Boshoff was a Professor in Mission Work, that's our Faculty here at the University of Pretoria. But then he retired and went into what I would say is active politics. And he is leading that group within the Dutch Reform Church.

POM. We've heard over the last couple of years frequent references to white fears and again I use not the parallel but a counterpoint in Northern Ireland. There are Protestant fears of unification, that they would get absorbed, culturally and spiritually absorbed in what they would regard as being a Catholic state. And there are, given the role that the Catholic Church plays in the Republic of Ireland and the social legislation and certain items in the constitution, there is a valid basis for some of these fears. Not for all of them but for some of them. Again from your extensive knowledge of your own community, how would you break down Afrikaner fears and which ones do you think have some basis in reality and which ones do you think are simply the product of myth or fantasy?

JH. I think it is important for you people, well for all of us also in South Africa, to understand the fact of the fear, the white fear. You know after all from the perspective of numerics the whites are five million, the blacks are 30 to 35 million. Five million whites, a minority and yet they have the political power, the economic power, the military power. Do not underestimate that. And now for the very first time in the history of this country we hear about a policy, a future policy of sharing whatever we have. It is natural that people would fear. I think that is very important to realise.

. But that is not your question. From a Christian point of view fear can be overcome only by love. Fear can only be overcome by accepting one another as human beings. After all according to a survey that has been conducted in our country a few years ago, some 77% of all the inhabitants, including the blacks, of all the inhabitants of this country, said that they considered themselves to be Christians and that they belonged to some or other church. Now if that is true I think that is a very important indication of the amount of goodwill, a reservoir of goodwill we still have in this country. I personally believe it is possible to overcome that fear, but then on the condition that we should stop our island existence because that is the result of apartheid, or that was the result of apartheid. We end up on different islands, not only ethnic islands but even ecclesiastic islands. We should come together. We should build bridges linking up those different islands. We should come to see one another as human beings with basically the same ideas, with basically even the same ethical norms. If we could do that, and that is exactly also what the church is trying to do, is trying to bring people together, trying to bring people into contact with one another, I believe that would contribute substantially towards the end of fear on the side of the whites and the end of hatred on the side of the blacks.

POM. But could you be a little bit more specific about what it is that whites fear and again which ones might have some basis in reality and which ones are really figments of a lack of knowledge of black people or stereotyping or whatever?

JH. Well politically there is the fear that they then would share power with us and that the whites would not be in the position to govern themselves and that is to the Afrikaner a very, very important aspect, self-government.

PAT. Is there a distinction between the fear of sharing and the fear of black domination?

JH. Well they fear from the side of the far right within the Afrikaner community, they fear sharing. That is not acceptable because that would imply that the whites are not in exclusive control and they fear also a black domination which, of course, is a very, very definite possibility especially if you take into consideration the policies of the PAC for instance. Because as you have whites who would like to maintain their exclusive position, white domination position, you have also blacks who would like to reverse the position and replace white domination by black domination and I think that is indeed a very legitimate cause of fear to the whites. Not only fear as far as political new structures are concerned but also as far as the culture of the structures is concerned. Even as far as ecclesiastic matters are concerned.

. When we have decided already in 1986 to open up membership to all races that was one of the reasons why so many people left our church because they said, "We are not willing to share our church with blacks. If a black comes in that door I would go out that door." There still are members of our church today who would not even listen to a black preacher. We've invited in our economically well situated congregation here in Waterkloof, we've invited a black Minister some time ago and let me tell you some people wouldn't come to that service.

POM. That kind of illustrates the enormity of the problem.

JH. Oh yes. We do not even want to listen to a black Minister. What right has he to come on our white pulpit? And I'm not going to listen to a black man explaining the gospel to me. It would be completely correct for me to go to his church and tell him what to do but not the converse. It's a deep-rooted psychological make-up of the Afrikaner. You wouldn't be in a position to understand it if you don't accept this sort of ingrain into the very essence of our human being.

POM. One fear that we've heard recur again and again is the fear of communism.

JH. That is also in theory still existing but I think that's fading away.

POM. Is that fading? Two last things and thank you for the time. I'm conscious of your time. One is on the violence that has been taking place in the townships almost since we saw you last.

JH. And in spite of the Peace Accord.

POM. And which is still going on there. One, can there be a peaceful conclusion to this process, the CODESA process, if this violence continues at its present level, if it is not brought under control? Two, if you had to look at the primary cause of the violence what would you primarily attribute it to? And the third is, Mr Mandela with increasing intensity maintains that the government itself, not just rogue elements in the security forces, but that the government itself is helping to orchestrate that violence. Do you think that is so?

JH. I believe that violence could be stopped when the process of reform has taken on definite promising structures as far as the future is concerned. At the same time I believe that it is a very complicated situation to understand violence in the South African community today. It has not only political causes. There are many other aspects as well. All the blacks were united in their anti-apartheid struggle, but ever since 2nd February 1990 that anti-apartheid bond disappeared. They couldn't be united in their anti-apartheid struggle because apartheid eventually faded away. In that vacuum situation, as I see it, tribalism came to the fore, and please do not under-estimate that aspect. That is very, very important. A Zulu and a Xhosa and a Sotho and you name them, ten, eleven different black tribes, with their national aspirations not any longer being united in their anti-apartheid struggle, then started a struggle between themselves. So that is a very important aspect. But I believe that once we have a clear vision of the future structure of our new constitution, I believe that would fade away. Of course that is not the view of the right.

POM. When we have talked to members of the ANC they have almost out of hand rejected any suggestion that there is an ethnic component to the violence. They say that whatever ethnic component there is, is the product of apartheid, that ethnic divisions did not precede apartheid. Do you think, again from your own conversations with members of the ANC, that they are sufficiently aware of the importance or the existence of this ethnic factor and that future structures of governance must take that into account if conflict is to be avoided in the future?

JH. I think it's completely wrong for the ANC to say that. That shows their lack of knowledge I would say. Well lack of knowledge is perhaps not correct, but their unwillingness to take reality into consideration because they know very well the position of the Zulus. They know very well what the position of Inkatha is. No, I think it would be very, very unrealistic for the ANC to deny the existence and the effect of the existence of ethnicity in this country. That would be completely wrong.

POM. Have you found in your own conversations with them, when and if this question did come up, that they tend to down-play or deny its existence?

JH. Yes, yes.

POM. You have?

JH. Yes. There's a reason for that I think, and that is the fact that they are not so monolithic as Inkatha, because Inkatha is mainly Zulus and the ANC consists of many different tribes so to speak. And perhaps that's the reason why it is for their own very existence important to down-play the importance of ethnicity.

POM. One final question.

JH. Now your last question was about Mandela's accusation. Just repeat that question again.

POM. Well he has insisted that the government itself, that there is a third force, the hand of the government in the violence that it is either helping to orchestrate it or on occasion perpetrating it themselves.

JH. I don't think there is a third force in the sense that that could be as they implied, the government or the police or the army, I don't think so. Perhaps they perceive the situation in South Africa as a third force. By that I mean that I think one can distinguish between the constitutional violence and revolutionary violence. And I think that was one of the results of apartheid, a constitutional or a structural violent situation by all the different apartheid laws, etc., etc., and what they now perceive as a third force could be the structural violence caused by the policy of apartheid that was applied for so many years. But an active force, third force, it had been the police or the army, no I don't think so.

POM. So would you categorically reject out of hand any suggestion that the government in any manner, shape or form is either financing covertly and perhaps without the knowledge of de Klerk any of the violence that has taken place in the townships for the last 18 months?

JH. I don't think that is correct. Speaking about this third force, there is also, of course, a possibility of criminality. I don't think that could be ruled out although that hasn't been proved yet. But I think it is theoretically possible that many individuals see this as a very, very fine opportunity to pursue their criminal ideals.

PAT. Does it make sense to you that the security forces here, whatever they are, these covert operations whatever, given their history in this country do not get the violence under control?

JH. I think it is very difficult for anybody to control the violence because of the fact that it is a very complicated phenomenon in our community. And I think they really are trying their best but simply cannot cope. Whether it is a matter of lack of knowledge, know-how, a lack of personnel, I don't know but it is surely not because of the fact that they somehow support what's going on in the country. No, that is not so, that is not correct, and yet I would, and that has been said by individual members of the police force and the security forces, that does not exclude that individual police and individual members of the security forces indeed are also part and parcel of this whole right and far right persuasion, that due to that position they have political inclination, they could act in a certain manner. That is not excluded.

POM. Part of what you said at the beginning, could it be a situation where the threat of right wing violence or organisations on the right wing that want to engage in violence could be augmented by elements in the security forces, individuals, policemen in particular who would find their sympathies lying with the right?

JH. Quite possible. It has already been acknowledged by, as I said, police officers and members of the army, security forces.

POM. This was a big question last summer after the coup in the Soviet Union. Could a situation develop here where disorder and breakdown reached such a proportion that the military would step in to simply restore order, period?

JH. You're driving me into a corner.

POM. Well theologians are very good at getting out of corners.

JH. A political corner. According to my knowledge of our situation and my observations I don't think that could happen in South Africa. A coup in the sense that they act, the security forces act independently from the government. That would pre-suppose a dichotomy between the policies of the government and that of the security forces to that extent which to my mind does not exist in our country. But what is not theoretically impossible, I'm speculating here, what is not theoretically impossible is that a stage could be reached in the development of our processes here that the government could ask the security forces to take over and then they, the security forces would add as a response from the side of the government but not contrary and independently from them. Does that make sense?

PAT. Like a declaration of martial law coming from the government, coming from parliament which declares martial law?

JH. Acknowledgement of their own inability to govern the situation due to the fact that the situation has come completely ungovernable, therefore we ask you to take over. Does that make sense to you?

POM. Yes. Patricia?

PAT. I have one question that maybe is just to clarify a matter. Your progress on the process of sharing power and what I understand in a simplified way without going into all the details, the ANC's position is not the same position on power sharing as the NP's. The NP talks about converging institutions representing different ideologies or way of governing in sharing power, where the ANC's is about majority rule in which the ANC in government has whites in the Cabinet and other races represented. When you talk about the fear of power sharing, is it fear of racial sharing or a fear of different - where is this fear coming from?

JH. The fear is coming specifically from the right wing in Afrikanerdom. And even don't exclude the English speaking component of our community in South Africa, especially those coming from the Rhodesias. You would be more surprised how conservative they are, sometimes even more than the conservative Afrikaner because they said, "Look we've gone through that, we've been through it, we know exactly what the position is and therefore we would like to warn you in South Africa not to go on this road of negotiating with the blacks" So that does not exclude the English speaking people. The fear speaking from the Afrikaner is that we would like to govern ourselves because we've got a divine calling to preserve, to maintain our white Afrikaner identity and that you cannot do if you share power with the blacks.

POM. So does a situation exist then where perhaps up to one third of the Afrikaner population oppose the government because of the reasons that you have outlined. That among those other Afrikaners and other segments of the white population there is support for the government as long as they understand it is going to be power sharing but that that support would erode rather quickly if they thought that what was going to be happening with the takeover of power by the ANC, black rule rather than power sharing?

PAT. ANC rule.

JH. No I think you're quite right. Hence the notion of a Bill of Rights in which the rights of a minority could be protected. But if that's not going to be the case and that's not going to be part and parcel of a new constitution then surely there would be reaction from the side of the whites.

POM. Thank you very much, for the extra time too.

JH. You're welcome.

POM. Do you have a copy of the 1990 document, 'Church and Society'?

JH. Yes, I promised you. Would you like to have one or two?

POM. Two.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to theThis resource is hosted by the site.