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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
Transcript of the NP Party Political Recall in Cape Town - 14 May 1997
POLITICAL PARTY SUBMISSIONS
CHAIRPERSON: Good morning. Will you please stand.
CHAIRPERSON OPENS THE HEARING WITH A PRAYER
CHAIRPERSON: I bid you all a hearty welcome during the second session of this series of public hearings of our Commission. We have received submissions from political parties in which they tried to, amongst others, answer certain questions which were posed to them after their first submission.
A hearty welcome to Mr de Klerk and all those accompanying him and who will assist him in this process. We welcome you all, everyone here today. We would like to welcome you very warmly to this gathering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We have come to listen to testimony which will be given by the leader of the National Party where he will be responding to questions being put to him after, firstly they will give testimony in the form of a submission.
It is a very great joy to have you back Mr de Klerk and I want to take this opportunity yet again of expressing our appreciation as a Commission for the crucial contribution that you made to democracy in South Africa. President Mandela quoted in the Sunday Independent of April the 27th, was quite right when he said,
"Whatever mistakes Mr de Klerk has made, without him it would not have been possible to have this peaceful transition. Everyone who criticises him should not forget this. The brave unbanning of the different organisations in 1990 and also the fact that during the difficult negotiation process the majority of Whites, for whom it was a traumatic process, after they have been alone in government for so many years, this is a very true fact".
We wish to plead that we shouldn't engage in the tendency of personalising the investigations and the work of the Commission, given the official positions that you, Mr de Klerk, held as cabinet minister and later State President, positions held during one of the most violent periods under the investigation of our Commission. It is inevitable that we will ask hard, often painful questions, but we don't need to reiterate that you are not the only one to face this kind of serious probing.
In fact when our research department sent out the questions to the various parties that have made their submissions, without exception all the parties excoriated us wanting to flay us alive because they complained that the questions that were directed to them were unfair, were biased, were whatever description you might almost want to put to it. So we probably got something right in an expression of our even-handedness.
Our country escaped from comprehensive and utter disaster. We moved away from the brink of catastrophe, and you, Mr de Klerk, played a quite crucial role at this most critical hour in our history. And your part, as I have always said will always be remembered and honoured. Your statesmanship and that of Mr Mandela ensured that the world would behold a veritable miracle unfolding before its very eyes.
We have another opportunity in the TRC process for an exercise of statesmanship, not for the scoring of cheap points or making party political capital, opportunity to move, as I said, to the ANC yesterday, beyond mere legality, beyond a literal correctness to another plane, another moral realm where other dynamics, other values operate. You have such an opportunity today. Perhaps I should quote the words that Moses said to the children of Israel.
"Today I offer you the choice of life and good, or death and evil. I summon heaven and earth to witness against us today. I offer you the choice of life or death, blessing or curse, choose life and you and your descendants will live".
Before I ask you, and perhaps whoever in your delegation are probably going to be joining you in the presentation to take the oath, I omitted to say a special congratulations to Mrs Camerer who became a grandmother for the first time yesterday. I allow you to clap her.
I wanted to find out Mr de Klerk whether your colleagues are going to share with you in the pleasant duty of dealing with us.
MR DE KLERK: Chairperson I will be the only spokesperson. (Speaker's microphone is not on)
CHAIRPERSON: The Deputy Chair will, if you will please rise and take the oath.
MR DE KLERK: (sworn states)
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. May I introduce my colleagues on the panel here. On my extreme left is Richard Lyster who is a commissioner and is also our regional convenor in KwaZulu Natal and member of the Human Rights Violations Committee. Next to him is Yasmin Sooka. She is a commissioner and a deputy chair of the Human Rights Violations Committee based in Gauteng. Denzil Potgieter is a commissioner and a member of our Human Rights Violations Committee and based here. Glenda Wildschut is a commissioner and member of the Rehabilitation and Reparation Committee and based here. And the Deputy Chair Dr Alex Boraine. Dr Mapule Ramashala who is a commissioner and a member of our Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee and based here. And I will introduce our staff, Glen Goosen who is going to be leading the evidence. Paul van Zyl is the Executive Secretary of the whole Commission, Chief Mabizela and Nikki Rossouw.
Now we've had your submission for some time and I presume - the floor is yours entirely and we are at your disposal as it were.
MR DE KLERK: Thank you Mr Chairman. May I initially thank you for your kind remarks in welcoming us here and for also those specific remarks addressed to me personally.
I would just like, before I make a short opening statement to also introduce those who sit here with me. On my extreme left is Mr Fanus Schoeman who is chief of staff in my office as leader of the official opposition. Then next to me Mr David Malatsi who is the leader of the National Party in Mpumulanga and who also accompanied me and assisted me when I made my first submission. Then on my right is Mr Dave Stewart, he's not a politician. He served for most of my period as State President as Director General in the office of the State President and has been extremely helpful in assisting me in the formulation of the submissions. He has a vast amount of knowledge and facts at his disposal and his assistance is extremely valuable to me. And then Mrs Camerer who is here in her capacity as Chairperson of our Justice Committee and also Chairperson of a small committee in our party which monitors the whole situation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and which also gives valuable assistance to me. Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the Executive Director of the National Party's federal structures will join us a little bit later. He is caught up in important discussions at Parliament and asked to be excused until later.
Mr Chairman, members of the Commission, after careful consideration I have decided not to burden you with an oral representation of that which you have had before you in writing for the past six weeks. I assume that you have studied my replies to the questions and it would be merely repetitive to just read it out again.
The media have similarly had it for the same period and parts of the contents were when it was made available to them widely reported. We have also once again distributed copies of our second submission today to the media and they are welcome, obviously, to report from it.
I consequently suggest, Mr Chairman, that we move to a discussion of, as well as questions and answer on the subject matter before us as soon as possible. As far as new issues, which might arise are concerned, I would prefer those to be deal with by way of written questions to which I could reply in writing in due course. However, I will endeavour to deal, forthwith, with those which do not require research or consultation with others in order to get some facts from them and I will try my best to field, therefore, all questions which might be posed.
Against this background I shall limit my opening remarks. Firstly, a number of commentators as well as my political opponents continue to claim that I have not apologised for apartheid. This is simply not true. Clearly they have not listened or they don't care to listen to the numerous statements I have made on the subject over the years. They fail to take note of my unqualified apology on the 30th of April 1993. They have studied neither my first nor second submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They equate the efforts that I made, and may I say at the Commission's request, to try to explain in context the circumstances which gave rise to apartheid with some or other attempt to defend or justify the policies of the past. The latter has never been my intention.
Let me place once and for all a renewed apology on record. Apartheid was wrong. I apologise in my capacity as leader of the National Party to the millions of South Africans who suffered the wrenching disruption of forced removals in respect of their homes, businesses and land. Who over the years suffered the shame of being arrested for pass law offences. Who over the decades and indeed centuries suffered the indignities and humiliation of racial discrimination. Who for a long were prevented from exercising their full democratic rights in the land of their birth. Who were unable to achieve their full potential because of job reservation. And who in any other way suffered as a result of discriminatory legislation and policies. This renewed apology is offered in a spirit of true repentance, in full knowledge of the tremendous harm that apartheid has done to millions of South Africans.
It was, Mr Chairman and members of the Commission, because of our growing acceptance that our policies were wrong, that from the end of the 1970's the National Party began to reform. Our deeds, as much as our words, since then are there for all to see. We abolished apartheid and we are proud of it. When the government of National Unity took over with inauguration on the 10th of May 1994, all discriminatory legislation had been removed from the statute book. It was done already in the latter years of my predecessor's presidency and it was finalised and completed under my presidency.
When in my submissions I highlighted the motivating factors which gave rise to the policies of the past it was intended, not as a justification, but as a truthful explanation of the why's and wherefore's which motivated decisions at a particular time. The TRC, in its quest for truth, must also have regard to such factors. I have dealt with them at length in my previous submissions and do not want to be repetitive. However, please accept that in no way is it offered as a justification for the wrongs which apartheid has wrought.
Secondly, Mr Chairman, a perception has developed that the National Party is not accepting overall responsibility for its part in the conflict of the past. That National Party politicians are leaving the security forces in the lurch. That we are washing our hands of that which was done in terms of our policies and decisions. Once again this is simply not true. An objective study of pages 15, 17, 18, 25 and 26 of my first submission of the 21st of August 1996 will prove to the contrary.
Let me state clearly that the National Party and I accept full responsibility for all our policies, decisions and actions. We stand by our security forces who implemented such policies and decisions and all reasonable interpretations thereof. We accept that our security legislation and the state of emergency created circumstances which were conducive to many of the abuses and transgressions against human rights which forms the basis of the Commission's investigation.
We acknowledge that our implementation of unconventional projects and strategies likewise created such an atmosphere. We have no problem with General Malan's formulation of the acceptance of overall responsibility. I accept, without qualification, overall responsibility in respect of the period of my leadership as State President. But like the ANC, like General Malan and many others the National Party also says that many things happened which were not authorised, not intended and of which we were not aware. The recent information of atrocities I find as shocking and as abhorrent as anybody else. It came to me as just a shocking revelation as to anyone else.
During my presidency I went out of my way to get to the bottom of the truth and to find and prosecute the perpetrators of such dastardly deeds. I have never condoned gross violations of human rights and reject any insinuation that it was ever the policy of my party or my government.
Having said all that let me say the National Party does not shirk its responsibilities. We are not running away from our accountability. We accept overall moral and political responsibility for our part in the conflicts of the past.
The third point I would like to make is that since the National Party's reform policies began, at first tentatively and later with increasing boldness and vigour, we have been part of the solution and not part of the problem. The new South Africa is just as much our creation as it is the creation of any other party. We refuse to allow any party or any organ to deprive us of our rightful place in our new society.
We, like the ANC, and all the other parties of South Africa, are the product of a complex and tormented history. We do not regard ourselves as being morally superior or inferior than any other party. The glory of the past seven years is that together, together we have been able to overcome the divisions and bitterness of our history. Together we have been able to create the basis for reconciliation, for forgiveness and for a better and more peaceful future for all our people.
I sincerely believe, Mr Chairman and members of the Commission, that we dare not allow this historic achievement to be torn apart by reviving the bitterness and the animosity of the past. I urge the Commission to do its share in preventing this. We need to take hands to make reconciliation a living concept.
The most difficult task of the Commission which lies ahead is not establishing what happened when, the truth, it's coming to the fore, it's coming to the fore also as a result of initiatives which I took when I was State President, the key witnesses from the side of exposure of atrocities on government forces' side was unlocked by the investigations of the Goldstone Commission which I appointed, which presented the platform for this Commission to get to the truth. So most of the truth, I hope, with you, will come out.
But the most difficult task and challenge which you face is to fulfil the instruction which South Africa has given to you, and that is to deal with that truth in a way which will promote and strengthen reconciliation. It's a difficult task and a tremendous challenge which you face. You can rely on the National Party and on me to assist wherever we can in helping you to achieve this. If all the activities of this Commission and everything which has taken place, which is taking place and which will still continue to take place with regard to your investigations, if it doesn't lead us to a leap forward in the achievement of reconciliation then history will say that we have failed to deal with the truth in a way which would bring all the people of South Africa nearer to each other.
I hope that also our deliberations of today will take place in that spirit of moving us towards our common goal, reconciliation. I thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your opening remarks. We appreciate them very much, and we obviously appreciate the fact that we will not have to use too much time in going through a report as you say that we have already had and we, on our side, will want to work in the same spirit. The person, as I indicated, who is going to be asking the questions is Glen Goosen who is the National Director of our Investigative Unit. Glen.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson.
MR DE KLERK: May I just enquire Mr Chairperson I suppose we will follow the order of the questions as they have been posed and my replies in that regard, otherwise I would like us to avoid jumping around. We took great trouble to follow the order and to relevant to each specific question and it would be extremely helpful if we could follow that order.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. Mr de Klerk, Mr Chairperson, we have obviously done an analysis and an evaluation of the responses to the questions, our questions are based on the submissions that have been made and we will obviously try to follow those where we need to deal with specific answers that are given. But we hope in the questions that we will present to maintain coherence so that it will be possible to follow that through. Thank you.
Mr Chairperson, perhaps just a very brief introduction which sets out broadly where we would hope to go. The primary purpose of the political parties' submissions, and obviously this hearing, is to enable the Commission to determine a basis upon which it will adjudicate, if you like, the question of political accountability, and to evaluate, whether in this instance, the National Party's acceptance, or otherwise where that appears, of political accountability is consonant with that judgment. I intend, in the questions which I will put, to use Sir, your own categorisation of accountability as set out in your submission, to determine whether as a framework it's capable of explaining the responsibility for the commission of human rights violations in the context of the past.
You are on record, in your second submission dated the 23rd of March 1997, that the National Party is, and I quote,
"Not prepared to accept responsibility for the criminal actions of a handful of operatives of the security forces of which the Party was not aware and which it would never have condoned".
and that appears at page 10 of the second submission.
In your first submission you explained that there were cases in which perpetrators of human violations were, again I quote,
".....bona fide in their interpretation of orders and strategies in that they believed that they were acting correctly and with authority".
and that appears in the submission there as well. That category I will, for present purposes, refer to as the "misinterpretation category", it's a bona fide misinterpretation of the framework set out by government policy and by National Party policy.
In other cases you explain, and I quote at page 17 of the submission, first submission,
"The bona fides of those involved was clouded by bad judgment, over zealousness or negligence".
and I will refer to those as the "over zealous" category.
Apart from the two bona fide categories referred to by you in your submission you say in your first submission that
"Certain elements acted mala fide and that these elements misused State funds and were involved in unauthorised operations leading to abuses".
and that appears at page 18 of the first submission. Indeed you stress in both submissions that within your knowledge and experience neither you or your colleagues in cabinet, the State Security Council or any committee authorised or instructed the commission of unlawful acts. Even in regard to unconventional projects you state that none of these projects was intended to lead to any gross violation of human rights.
I intend to put to you a few examples of human rights violations committed by members of the security forces of the State, and I wish to ask you in each instance for your views as to what categories those incidents would fall into. In the first instance, on the 7th of June 1985 a Colonel Lourens du Plessis, who was then secretary of the Eastern Province Joint Management Centre, on the instructions of Brigadier van der Westhuizen, Chairman of the JMC sent a signal to Major General van Rensburg, head of the strategy branch of the secretariat to the State Security Council, the signal called for the permanent removal from society of three leading UDF activists.
The second inquest court, which you specifically appointed, found that the signal was a recommendation that the three persons should be killed and found that there was prima facie proof that it was members of the security forces that in fact carried out the murders. A number of amnesty applications from senior officers in the Eastern Cape now confirm the fact that Mr Goniwe and his three colleagues were indeed murdered by members of the security forces.
In your view Sir, was this action an example of them misinterpreting their mandate, being over zealous, or was it mala fide action which led to abuses?
MR DE KLERK: Mr Chairman it has never been the policy of the government, the National Party, that people should be murdered, should be assassinated. I have said that clearly. Such instruction is in conflict with the policy as it has been at all times within my knowledge. If I, during my State Presidency, could have ascertained those facts I would have charged all those involved and I would have brought them before court on a charge of murder.
Can I furthermore say, I think this refers to Goniwe?
MR GOOSEN: Indeed.
MR DE KLERK: What did we do to ascertain the truth about Goniwe, because quite often the suggestion is made that we turned our heads away, there were rumours and we should have done something about it, in my presidency we changed the law to allow for inquests to be undertaken by a judge as well, and the inquest was reopened and every effort was made in the second phase, therefore, of the new reopened inquest to really get to the truth.
MR GOOSEN: Yes, that's not in dispute Sir. The question really is in terms of your own categories that you put forward where would you place this action on the part of the security forces?
MR DE KLERK: I have clearly stated that it would definitely fall outside, to my mind, the first two categories.
MR GOOSEN: It would therefore be mala fide action, in essence, leading to abuses.
MR DE KLERK: Ja, it is no way a reasonable interpretation and anybody believing that we would have ordered, right from the top that would be wrong in believing that that would be possible. What is possible, you see you are dealing with a chain of people, what is possible that lower down, getting a message or an order from somebody of superior rank might have been told, I don't know, that this is authorised and such a person lower down, the lower down you go the more I have sympathy for the person receiving an instruction from a superior officer if that superior officer creates the impression that don't worry, although this is a very far-reaching order that you're getting I give you the assurance it's been cleared.
MR GOOSEN: Yes.
MR DE KLERK: So there might be people lower down under such similar circumstances, and maybe even here who could be categorised under the bona fides group while others would be classified under the mala fides group.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. During 1986 the Eastern Province Command, the self-same Brigadier van der Westhuizen initiated a proposed operation which had at its heart the creation of a Xhosa resistance movement to act as a bulwark against the revolutionary onslaught of the ANC. Critical to the successful implementation of the operation, which took place under the direction of the Chief of Staff, Intelligence, of the South African defence force, was the unlawful freeing of Charles Sebe from prison, the recruitment and training of a group of Transkei defence force special forces' members, the overthrow of Lennox Sebe and the elimination of certain key individuals. Operation Katzen, as it was known, involved the paramilitary training of a group of persons in offensive actions and in the use of sophisticated weapons. The operation was a covert project of the Directorate of Special Tasks of the SADF and fell directly under the operational command of Chief of Staff, Intelligence of the SADF.
Amnesty applications have now been received from very senior military personnel which would tend to confirm this. Would you regard this operation as merely the actions of a handful of operatives?
MR DE KLERK: Can I, before I reply to the question, just make the point that I don't think that one could accept, as the truth and the whole truth and nothing but the truth each and every statement made by each and every person applying for amnesty. It has been proven, what I am just saying, in the case against General Malan and the other generals, with regard to Operation Marion, where those who perpetrated the deeds advanced evidence that they had authority and they had orders to do so. After proper testing, in thorough cross- examination, the persons who made those allegations, or the person who made it was found to be a liar, and a totally untrustworthy witness.
Therefore, in my reply I want to qualify it and say, I'm not prepared to accept that merely because something is said in an amnesty application that that is true where that which is said implicates others who have not had the opportunity to fully state their views in that regard. Within those qualifications I would say that planning counter-strategies to meet the revolutionary onslaught of the ANC was the order of the day, in many ways. There was a tremendous propaganda onslaught. There was infiltration of people who were active in terrorist deeds and the like, and yes, there were counter-strategies. You cannot fight that type of thing just in the normal way. You have to infiltrate, you have to have knowledge, etc, etc. But if such a strategy involved the set of circumstances releasing somebody then assassinating somebody that would be against the policy and it cannot be interpreted as a reasonable interpretation of the policy and decisions which have been taken.
And that would remove it once again from anybody who initiated that from the top, remove it from the first two categories. Once again it would be possible that those lower down, who received specific orders and who might have been assured that these orders are okay and you are in duty bound to do so might qualify for the other two categories.
MR GOOSEN: The former Commissioner of Police, General Johan van der Merwe, has stated that he acted under the instructions of the then State President, P W Botha and Law and Order Minister Adrian Vlok, in ordering the bombing of Khotso House in 1988, under what category would such an incident have fallen?
MR DE KLERK: Before I reply to that, can I just say about this trend of questioning Mr Chairman, I am not in a position to pass specific judgement on each and every specific case. Each case would have to be judged on its merits, so I am giving you off-the-cuff opinions here without the benefit of every little detail surrounding the matter, who were involved, who says what, so it's extremely difficult for me to pass an informed judgement, and really give you a fully informed opinion in this regard.
In the case of Khotso House, to the best of my knowledge and I'm not justifying the bombing of Khotso House, nobody was killed, nobody was murdered, there was serious damage to property and that would put it in a different category. No doubt those who applied for amnesty in that regard will put all the facts before you. I am not aware that my predecessor has, as yet, accepted responsibility in the sense that he acknowledges that he actually did authorise it. I've read in the press that he has been presented with a set of questions and surely he's in the best position to inform you about that.
MR GOOSEN: Yes. Would the same apply Sir, to the COSATU house bombing involving a similar change of command and operatives; the bombing of the Early Learning Centre in Cape Town which also involved CCB operatives or the so-called Cry Freedom bombings which were directed at cinemas scheduled to screen the movie Cry Freedom?
MR DE KLERK: About most of those I don't have any details, whatsoever, and I cannot right at this moment place it, exactly when it took place, where it took place, how can I be asked to pass a judgement on something where I don't have full information at my disposal.
MR GOOSEN: The primary purpose of putting these, as I indicated at the outset, Sir, is to evaluate the categories which you, on behalf of the National Party, put forward as an explanation of where responsibility should lie. I will move on.
MR DE KLERK: Can I just say that the last category, the mala fide category, in my original submission I went further and I was specifically also referring to the latter years of the conflict and more specifically during my presidency when another factor came to the fore, namely that the fundamental change of direction I and my colleagues initiated, which involved the opening of negotiations, the termination of secret operations, we closed them down and the lifting of the state of emergency were not supported by some elements, a small element in the security forces. We were then accused, along the grapevine, of being soft and of being traitors. And there was a time when the security people who had to guard me feared for my life that I might have been assassinated by such elements. They were as much against the reforms as they were against the ANC.
MR GOOSEN: Sir, TREVETS, the counter-revolutionary intelligence task group was reportedly initiated in January 1988. According to Brigadier Jack Cronje a former commander of Northern Transvaal Security Police, in this organisation, drew up hit lists of prominent activists for elimination. All intelligence on targets internally and externally had to be channelled to TREVETS where planning for action would take place. Representatives of security branch, military intelligence, national intelligence met under the chairpersonship of the security branch. Cronje gave the example of the murder of the Robeiros which he claimed was an operation of the SADF special forces. Cronje was the commanding officer of security branch, as I've indicated, in the Northern Transvaal, and recently received amnesty applications from former special forces' operatives would tend to confirm his allegations. In the light of this would you regard these operatives and the security force and intelligence personnel involved in TREVETS as a handful of individuals who engaged in unauthorised operations or would you place them in another category?
MR DE KLERK: What they were doing, if they actually did it, would definitely have been unauthorised. It was never part of the policy and I totally distance myself from that and I would say that they were acting not within the framework or anything which comes near a reasonable interpretation of the policies of the government.
MR GOOSEN: Former SAP Captain, Brian Mitchell, who was convicted for his role in the Trust Feeds massacre claimed in his amnesty application that the Nationalist Government used the police to do its dirty work. According to evidence led in the trial the events leading to the massacre began with the decision taken at the local Joint Management Centre and that the UDF presence in the area be undermined, would this be another example of police over-zealousness, or another category?
MR DE KLERK: Let me take that now as an example to just bring across a very specific point. He was charged. The police investigated the case, he was charged and he was condemned to death, am I right? That is my recollection. If the court thought that the picture which you have just pictured in your question was true, surely that would have been extenuating circumstances?
So once again we have here a case where a court of law evaluated this and I haven't had a look at the specific case, I'm now talking just from own legal experience, and found that here there were not extenuating circumstances, hence that background in all probability, yes the order to destabilise UDF activities. UDF were then burning down houses. UDF were leading marches. UDF were at that stage staging actions which seriously harmed the economy and which seriously harmed the interests of millions of South African citizens.
So, yes, participating in actions to destabilise, to upset their programmes, that would be in order and would be a reasonable interpretation. There was a fight to be fought against these activities which in themselves were part of the revolutionary onslaught aimed at making South Africa ungovernable. Aimed at overthrowing the State. But to promote Black on Black violence; to get people to kill other people; to get people to commit murder was not part of the policy and anybody doing that or ordering that would be mala fides.
Once again people right down the bottom of the line of instruction fall in a different category if they have a clear-cut instruction from higher authority and the mala fides would be there where that order initiated against policy and falling outside the policy framework.
MR GOOSEN: Senior members of the South African Police, implicating also senior SADF officers have applied for amnesty for a number of murders committed by SAP operatives when they supplied faulty handgrenades to COSAS members in the court of 1985. At least eight persons were killed and seven maimed. This operation was authorised and approved by the former Commissioner of Police and the Minister, would you classify this as a misinterpretation of what was required or a bona fide instance of over-zealous behaviour?
MR DE KLERK: Whoever authorised that was guilty of a very gruesome and totally unacceptable decision. It was wrong, it wasn't part of the policy and whoever authorised it was mala fides and was acting against the interests of South Africa.
Can I say, however, that I don't know whether this allegation that a Minister ordered it was tested. We are dealing once again here with allegations made by people in amnesty applications who are trying to pass the buck. Sometimes it might be true but in many cases it won't be true as has been proven in a number of court cases. So I think it's a dangerous line of thinking to fall into the trap of taking for the gospel everything which is said in every amnesty application.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. Just in regard to this and by way of background, an article published in 1977 in a journal called Militaria, which is circulated within the South African Defence Force, an article published by current defence correspondent for Jane's Weekly, Helmut Roma Heitmann(?) entitled Some Possibilities in Counter-Insurgency Operations, this document was handed in during the Goniwe inquest, in dealing with certain types of operations which could be launched has the following to say in a passage which appears at page 63. I will make a copy of this available to you at the adjournment.
"Other operations can include the sabotage or doctoring of discovered arms or supply caches. The resultant difficulties will sap confidence and morale as well as creating distrust between the insurgency and its suppliers. Such operations should not, however, be overdone so as to avoid creating suspicion. They could range from doctored foodstuffs by mixing petrol with paraffin for lamps, and tampering with medical supplies to the placing of instant detonation fuses in, for example, every tenth grenade etc. The preference here would be to the infliction of illness or injury, not death, the former having the added advantage of sapping morale and straining logistics. The intelligence services can also create some havoc by the supplying of false information, particularly the type to create mistrust, thus a leader of the insurgency could be made to appear as a police informer by, for instance, paying him more-or-less secretly or less subtly by rewarding him publicly. Other misinformation could be aimed at frustrating the insurgency's later efforts".
Now you may be interested to know - would you have any comment to make about that first before I take that further?
MR DE KLERK: Who is the author of it?
MR GOOSEN: Helmut Roma Heitmann, current defence correspondent for Jane's Defence Review, published in Militaria in 1977, a journal circulated within the South African Defence establishment.
MR DE KLERK: Well I don't think that has any official status and I think it is a description of more-or-less the strategies which might have been used by the British in Malaysia.
MR GOOSEN: Yes. Strategies remarkably which fit in with the doctoring of handgrenades which occurs in 1985 on the East Rand in South Africa and involving special forces operatives and being authorised, so the allegation is, at the very highest level, involving a minister of State.
MR DE KLERK: If there is evidence I would not have condoned any such a deed and I would have been against it.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. It's clear, just to stay on this issue, it's clear from the amnesty applications received, that the operatives who carried out the action were made aware that it was approved and duly authorised at the level at which I've suggested. How would this experience, knowing that it was authorised, have affected the ability of those operatives to correctly interpret other sets of instructions they might have received?
MR DE KLERK: That is part of what I've referred to also in my opening remarks this morning and in both previous submissions, part of the atmosphere which was created, which was conducive towards this and for which we do not shirk overall responsibility and moral and political accountability.
MR GOOSEN: You may be interested to know, Sir, that in the aftermath of the handgrenade incidents a girlfriend of one of the victims was necklaced because of rumours that she was an informer. Her name was Maki Skosana. Would you regard the persons responsible for the operation as bearing some responsibility for the tragic outpouring of anger and bitterness which culminated in that necklacing?
MR DE KLERK: There are certain things which happen in instances like this which can be described as being a direct cause and there are certain things which can be described as an indirect cause. If there is such a link where there were specific disinformation about the integrity of a person fighting on the other side which led to that, then surely some of the blame must be shared by those who spread the disinformation. But that does not exonerate those who actually necklaced such a person.
MR GOOSEN: Yes.
MR DE KLERK: And that doesn't make it acceptable.
MR GOOSEN: That's not suggested in my question.
MR DE KLERK: But it is suggested by others, not by you.
MR GOOSEN: On the 7th of May 1985 three prominent members of a Black civic organisation were abducted from the airport in Port Elizabeth by members of the South African Police. The security police and Vlakplaas members were operating under instructions of the head of the security police in the Eastern Cape and subsequent commander of C Section at security police headquarters. The victims were transported to a disused police facility near Cradock, there they were held, interrogated, tortured and finally eliminated. Their bodies were burnt and the remains dumped into the Fish River.
Despite three court applications and numerous efforts made by the families of the men no explanation for the disappearance could be obtained from the police. Do you regard these actions as unauthorised actions of a handful of operatives?
MR DE KLERK: Once again depending who issued the orders it would definitely be unauthorised and mala fide. Can I just say on Vlakplaas and use the instance that you are putting forward in your question to underline a statement which is part of my replies with regard to knowledge or no knowledge. On the issue of Vlakplaas and de Kock's activities I have asked four generals who were at various stages with regard to Vlakplaas and who were, because of their duties and the posts that they held, in the best possible position, if you look at the top decision-makers, to know what has happened there. All four of them have assured me that they didn't know. To the best of my knowledge none of the four of them have applied for amnesty, which means that if other people knew that they knew, trustworthy witnesses, not just people saying that, surely they would have applied for amnesty, because the truth will come out? But they didn't. I believe them.
So the way in which Vlakplaas was managed with regard to the atrocities which originated there I am convinced have been a way which at some point it started and with regard to all those in superior positions above the person or persons who initiated those things, were kept in the dark and they were not being told what was actually happening. They were getting maybe false reports. One of the Generals said, the reports that they got with regard to the activities of Vlakplaas could meet the eye of the auditor general, was everything in order, gave no indication whatsoever of these atrocities. That is what I mean with mala fide, somewhere there is mala fide, and it is started by somebody with an own agenda and with its own goals, whatever the motivation might be.
MR GOOSEN: I have mentioned the instance of the Cradock Four, the Goniwe killings and the Pepco Three, the one we are just dealing with now. You may be interested to know that the amnesty applications received in regard to those two matters are from applicants who also, not in every instance, but certainly they cover applications also for the murder and disappearance Sizwe Kondile, in 1981. They also involve applications for assaults perpetrated on Steve Biko in detention in 1977. They involve the disappearance of Sipiwe Mtimkulu and Topsy Madaka. Violations which span a period from 1977 through - and also the Motherwell bomb blast which occurred in 1989, they span violations, involve a similar group of people with a similar chain of command from 1977 through to 1989 in the Eastern Cape. In your view, Sir, how was it possible that these operatives could behave with such impunity? What made it possible for such aberrations to occur?
MR DE KLERK: I think a number of factors surely played a role. Firstly, as I pointed out in my original submission, they had to fight, they had to fight an onslaught where there were no rules. They had to fight a revolutionary onslaught which had as its end goal to make South Africa look like Zaire is looking today. And that created a situation where you were not facing a typical military enemy across the barrel of a rifle, but you, the security forces had to protect the lives and property of all South Africans to uphold the authority of the State against an onslaught which was underground, which used terrorist methods, which threatened the very stability of the country. And the result was more authority to the security people to fight a war, a very specific type of war, and across the world where this type of war has occurred there has been these aberrations. There has been from all sides in such conflicts deviation from what might be described as the Queensbury Rules even for that type of warfare. In this process, the categories that I have referred to, and that you have been using as a basis of your line of questioning are relevant, are relevant.
I have also said that by the declaration of a state of emergency where normal rules are suspended, where you have detention without trial and the like, once again it creates circumstances and opportunity for aberrations like this. It cannot be justified. Murder and assassination cannot be justified and anybody who within this framework went as far as that did something which was totally unacceptable. That is where we stand.
MR GOOSEN: Stanza Bopape was detained by members of the security police on the night of the 9th or 10th of June 1988. He disappeared whilst in the custody of the police. His family were informed that he had been exempted from the provisions of Section 29 of the Internal Security Act, i.e. that he had been released from custody.
Former Commissioner of Police, General van der Merwe subsequently informed the family that Stanza Bopape had escaped from custody. This was also stated by Minister Vlok in response to questions tabled in Parliament regarding the disappearance of Bopape. It was also claimed that he had been seen by certain witnesses and that investigations were being vigorously pursued.
A co-detainee informed the family that he had been informed by his interrogators and torturers that Stanza Bopape had been shot whilst attempting to escape.
In consequence of various investigations conducted by the TRC and those conducted by the prosecuting authorities ten amnesty applications have been lodged with the TRC. From these applications it appears that certain operatives seek amnesty for the torture and murder of Stanza Bopape. Three generals, including the former Commissioner of Police seek amnesty for authorising the covering-up of the murder of Stanza Bopape.
This incident brings to light the involvement of very senior members of the police in commission of torture, murder and a deliberate interference with or obstruction of an investigation into a matter.
Would you say that these are merely a handful of operatives?
MR DE KLERK: I would firstly like to emphasise on this question, as with the others, that obviously that is absolutely unacceptable. It falls outside the parameters of anything which was ever authorised or intended by government policy, government decisions, or any reasonable interpretation. Surely when people commit a crime they try to cover it up, and if it wasn't for amnesty these people, if these facts are true, should have been charged. And where similar facts were uncovered in the past, they were charged, they were taken to court and they were convicted if the evidence was sufficient for a conviction. So as far as that part is concerned once again it falls outside the parameters of any reasonable interpretation.
If, with regard to the other aspect of your question, namely a handful of operatives, I don't want to be semantic - a handful out of 400,000 or 500,000 can be quite a lot in relation to 4 or 500,000, I'm not saying it was only three or four or six people, it might have been 200 people involved, and in the actual implementation we now know from amnesty implications that there were many more involved and that they are also applying for it because they were drawn into this. But whoever planned it was not planning it, within my knowledge or experience, with government approval either tacit or overt.
MR GOOSEN: How is it that such senior police officers on so many occasions could so seriously misinterpret government or state policy in this regard?
MR DE KLERK: Speaking about my presidency first, there is no basis on which any senior police officer or junior police officer could have been under the impression that it was okay in any way whatsoever to do this type of thing. One of the first things I did was to call the top police officers from across the country together and to say that this is the end of the government asking you in any way whatsoever to be politically involved or to advance any political cause or to obstruct any other political cause. You are here to safeguard the lives and property of all South Africans to investigate crime and to bring people to court. That's the first point I want to make.
There were clear Cabinet guidelines for secret operations and in my presidency those guidelines were managed to be brought to the knowledge of everybody.
As far as the situation under my predecessor is concerned there was almost a transfer of strong authority to security systems. Once again, and I'm not now blaming my predecessor he must speak for himself, I was there as an ordinary Minister of Education and leader of the National Party in the Transvaal on the security council, I can just say this type of planning, this type of it's okay, has never been discussed, it was not the atmosphere in which discussions took place on the State Security Council. It was broad strategies, I referred to it in one of my replies, it was broad strategies, this is what we would do, policy decisions which cannot be interpreted in any way whatsoever as authorising these unlawful acts resulting in these atrocious violations of human rights.
So, there were phases, and I would say that in the earlier phase, before - as a result also of advice, influence and assistance from the security forces pushing us politicians to say we need a political solution, a military solution isn't going to be the real solution, we started to make progress with regard to a negotiated solution to end the revolutionary onslaught on the one hand and to create, from our side, a situation where all these restrictions could be lifted and where the whole situation could be normalised in our country.
CHAIRPERSON: Excuse me, I'm just seeking a little bit of a clarification. When you called the officials, police officials and said to them there should be an end, an end to what? What was happening that made you think it is important to put an end or to tell them that they should put an end to whatever?
MR DE KLERK: No that wasn't an end to atrocities or an end to killing people or that, it was a statement to bring across to them that hitherto they have been instruments, within the framework of the policy, of fighting against the ANC, of fighting against the PAC and in that sense of the word they've been drawn into the political debate and they were seen as instruments in the hands of politicians, being used politically to oppose other political parties, to suppress the activities of other political parties, that is what was coming to an end. Their position, they were taken out of the political arena, and that is the essential message which I brought to them and which I also brought at a similar meeting to the top hierarchy, once again about 400 top officers of the SA Defence Force. I then started to dismantle the special security apparatus which has been built up over the years and to normalise the role of ordinary civilian departments again and took them out of all activities where they were drawn into decision-making processes, planning processes with regard to the line function activities of other departments.
CHAIRPERSON: So sorry, I have to consult with these bright people.
MR DE KLERK: I could use it as a smoke break if you..... (General laughter)
CHAIRPERSON: They have clarified my simple mind. Right you are, Glen.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Mr de Klerk on the 17th of August 1982 Ruth First was killed at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo in a letter bomb attack. This attack on a civilian in a foreign country and carried out without regard to the consequence of indiscriminate death or injury of other persons was carried out on the instructions of a senior member of the security police headquarters. At the time it was claimed that Ruth First was killed by her husband, Joe Slovo.
One of the persons who has applied for amnesty, Williamson, was widely celebrated as South Africa's super spy. He represented the National Party in an election and was subsequently appointed to the President's Council. As leader of the National Party do you regard the actions of the persons involved in the assassination of Ruth First as the work of an over-zealous policeman?
MR DE KLERK: I will reply to that, but then I would like to say I don't think it's going to serve much of a purpose if we are going to have another 30 similar cases paraded. I think the line of questioning has brought us to a point where it is - where I have made my general approach to such case studies and where would you categorise whom, quite clear. And the same here, if the person doing that, who did that is guilty of murder. And if I were President and if I were made aware that there is evidence of such a person I would make sure that such a person would have been charged and would have been found guilty.
MR GOOSEN: I only have a few more of these type of examples that I will run through, if you will bear with me.
At the time of Williamson's candidacy for the National Party were you aware of the role he had played in the murder of Ruth First? I take it not from the answer that you've just given?
MR DE KLERK: Obviously not.
MR GOOSEN: Had you been aware of his role would you have supported his candidacy and his appointment to the President's Council?
MR DE KLERK: Obviously not.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you.
On the 14th of March 1982 an explosive device was detonated at the offices of the ANC in London. This operation, carried out thousands of kilometres from the front line and in clear violation of international law, was authorised by a formation Commissioner of Police and member of the State Security Council, the former head of Security Police and subsequent Commissioner of Police and with the full knowledge and approval of the Minister. The operation itself involved a number of senior security policemen who received assistance from military personnel. The team was decorated for their role in the operation.
Would you regard these actions as a bona fide misinterpretation of State policy directives?
MR DE KLERK: You see my problem Mr Chairman with this line of questioning is that I am asked to be speculative. I mean here is now an instance where I at least know one fact and that is that the Minister vehemently denies it, but the questioner is putting the question to me as if it is a fact that the Minister knew about it. So how trustworthy are these suppositions which are being put to me? I have a problem with that. We are talking about allegations made by people and I'm being asked to give an adjudication on untested allegations.
MR GOOSEN: On the 29th of July, Sir, 1986 Piet Ntuli, a member of the Kwandebele Legislative Assembly was killed when a bomb was detonated under his vehicle. He was killed on instructions received from a very senior level in the security management system. Discussions were held at the Gesaamenlike Inligting Sentrum comprising Divisional Commissioner of Police, a representative of the SADF, head of the security branch, military and national intelligence. These emerged from amnesty applications.
Are we to assume too that this constitutes an authorised, unlawful action for which responsibility must be shouldered by the handful of operatives who were involved?
MR DE KLERK: For the specific deeds, if the allegations can be proved, yes those who did it must have accountability. Once again my overall acceptance of responsibility on behalf of the National Party and former governments with regard to an atmosphere conducive to such things which are wrong, which are detestable, which should never have happened also remains in place. I am not running away from that aspect which I dealt with in my opening remarks this morning.
MR GOOSEN: On the 27th of June 1986 ten youths had been lured into leaving the country to receive military training from MK were killed by members of the security police and special forces. Their bodies were placed in the vehicle they were using and it was blown up.
The operation was approved by a General in the security police and instructions were issued via a Brigadier. The operation involved the divisional commander of security police Northern Transvaal, a colonel in special forces and the officer commanding special forces SADF.
The amnesty applications of these special forces' members indicate that the operation was sanctioned by the Chief of the South African Defence Force.
Into what category would you place this action?
MR DE KLERK: I think I have made my position abundantly clear that I'm once again not prepared to, on a speculative basis accept the facts as they have given. This incident, when I read about it in the newspaper, as many of the others that you have referred to, these are the incidents with regard to which I said this morning, the recent information of atrocities I find as shocking and as abhorrent as anybody else. It came to me as just a shocking a revelation as to anyone else.
But I am deeply concerned, Mr Chairman, about the fact that in instances on an untested basis people's names are being drawn through the mud on the basis of allegations made that they knew and that this is made public before such persons have been given the opportunity to put their version of what happened to acknowledge, deny or explain. And this is an inherent problem. I am not holding it against you or I'm not being aggressive about it, but it's an inherent problem that we warned about right from the beginning.
And the line of questioning is unfortunately doing, achieving this now almost on a renewed basis. I can't just accept all the allegations made as if it is definitely the truth. Once again this is an atrocious which had happened and anybody who was involved in it was out of order, was not within the framework of policy or reasonable interpretation of policy.
CHAIRPERSON: Let me just say that I mean in some instances your reservations would probably be regarded as holding water, but in others, I mean say the Khotso House thing, I mean here you have the people who were involved going up to the Cabinet Minister level, have applied for amnesty. Now we will have to say that they must be very odd people to apply for amnesty for something they have not done.
MR DE KLERK: No, no, but I'm not disputing that at all Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, yes, I'm just saying that there are instances where, and I would accept your very strong criticism of Advocate Goosen in those instances because I think in fact it doesn't detract from the point that is being sought, if he drops some of those where we have not yet got the evidence that in fact this can be confirmed that so and so has done it because in quite a few of the instances it is an application by a Commissioner of Police, or it's an application by a Brigadier, fairly high up in the hierarchy, and I would just say that we have to be very careful that we do not undermine our credibility, your credibility in denying the veracity that comes from, as it were, the horse's mouth. And the point that is actually being made here is, in giving some of these examples, is just to in part to say that it becomes difficult to see how one can sustain a position that it is a few bad eggs. Or it is an aberration. It is not in line with the main policy when some, well one, the thing extends over a very long period of time.
Second, that those, even when they are few, are fairly high up people. I mean in terms, not of our investigations, but of those same people coming forward and saying we did so and so, we did so and so, and I would accept - I think that you don't in fact lose anything from the points that you are seeking to elicit if you exclude the name or the title of someone where we have not yet got that conclusive evidence.
MR DE KLERK: Mr Chairman can I just comment. I am not in any way saying if a Brigadier or whomever, or a Minister or whomever says I apply for amnesty, I'm not questioning that, but where the person who applies says, but I had orders from somebody else and where that somebody else has not been given the opportunity to say is it true or not and where that somebody else has not applied for amnesty, I am saying that that person is entitled to a fair hearing and a fair opportunity before their names are dragged through the mud.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson, let me just say one thing that the personalities involved and the roles played by them are drawn from amnesty applications which constitute confessions under oath.
I have one final example to put to you at this point before I move on to a further instance, a further set of questions, Mr de Klerk. The most senior members of the security branch in Natal, including the commander of the security branch, General Bertus Steyn and three colonels have applied for amnesty in respect of the murder of 12 ANC activists in KwaZulu Natal during 1988 and 1990. Seven of the victims were abducted, tortured and executed. Their bodies have been exhumed by the TRC's investigative unit. Three victims were placed on railway lines and blown up.
In 1990 two Operation Vula operatives were executed and thrown in the Tugela River. Their bodies have not been recovered.
Would these have been the actions of mavericks?
MR DE KLERK: Mr Chairman, I was against allowing amnesty for this type of action. I was drawn, forced almost kicking in order to ensure that we get a political settlement into changing my decision on that. With the Record of Understanding I was not in favour of changing the law which would allow cold-blooded murderers to apply for amnesty. That is where I stand on this issue.
And it was under pressure from the ANC in order to get people who committed necklace murders, in order to get people who were found guilty of planting the bomb in Magoos Bar etc, etc, released from jail and getting them amnesty, where they made it an absolute pre-condition that unless we did it we could not have continued negotiations. So I made the concession. If I had what I wanted to do then the Norgard(?) Principles would have been applied on these issues. That is where I stand. And on that basis I am saying that whoever did that within the framework of my whole experience was not executing government policy and was not implementing a reasonable interpretation of what government policy was.
MR GOOSEN: It's conceivable then, Sir, that the political motivation, the ostensible political motivation of the persons who would be applying for amnesty in these matters would then be called into question by you and your party?
MR DE KLERK: No, that doesn't flow from that. Can I here underline something which I have made abundantly clear in my submissions. There is this concept that everybody working in the civil service and everybody in the security forces were actually National Party supporters, whereas it is simply not true. A vast percentage of them never voted for the National Party. Many of them might have supported parties to the right, others have supported parties to the left of the National Party. We had a de-politicised defence force and police force and civil service.
And in that sense of the word, the political motivation of individuals is a very complex issue. It's not just party political, it's a political motivation for a person if that person believes that against the type of revolutionary onslaught certain things would be allowable because of the seriousness, because of the threat which that person believes such a revolutionary onslaught holds.
Likewise one can ask whether, what was the political motivation of for instance, ANC applicants who killed IFP supporters? The IFP was against apartheid. They never accepted apartheid. Where fellow Blacks have been killed who were as opposed to apartheid as those who killed them, what was the political motivation? It wasn't apartheid, it wasn't the fight against apartheid which gave rise to those killings. So it's a complex issue. And I think that the political motivation of people in general who fought on all the many sides who fought each other, is really almost a given, because the whole conflict centred around political motivation; centred around how individuals saw the future, saw constitutional dispensations, saw what was good for the country, what was bad for the country. It wasn't about money. It was about politics and all those who participated in it, almost per definition had a political viewpoint and were in the final analysis also motivated by that political viewpoint.
So I would urge that political motivation shouldn't be made a sort-of a controversial issue, to draw a line of fine distinction of deviating, of deviating from the norms which were applied in previous amnesties and releases which were agreed upon.
You will recall Mr Chairman that on this issue in my very first submission I asked for absolute even-handedness and with all due respect I am not imputing motives to the questioner, I think there is a risk in the underlying line of thinking to that question, that suddenly new norms might be applied in deciding or analysing whether there was political motivation or not.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much. Mr de Klerk I'd like to move on to slightly different, though similar, we are dealing with the same thing, I have some documentation, a bundle of documents which I will from time-to-time refer to in further questions ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: Excuse me, I beg your pardon, I gather you are moving now to a different category?
MR GOOSEN: Strictly speaking Mr Chairperson it's not a different category, it's just not an example in the same form that I've presented examples previously, and would want to carry on. It deals with the same subjects.
CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. I have made available to you Mr de Klerk certain documentation which I would refer to from time-to-time and the documents are also available for members of the panel.
An SADF document dated 28 April 1987 and which appears at page 1 of the bundle entitled "Aanbieding BSB on HSAV Chief of the South African Defence Force - HSAV se Komentaar" was submitted at the Goniwe inquest, it was labelled Exhibit G33. The authenticity of the document is not disputed by the SADF at the inquest and was confirmed in an affidavit which was made by General Joubert, officer commanding special forces, a copy of which is attached, which appears at pages 3 and 4 of the bundle. The document deals with a number of discussion points raised for clarity with the chief of the South African Defence Force, General Jannie Geldenhuys at the time relating to actions of the CCB.It's apparent that CCB operatives were concerned about their liability for actions aimed at the elimination of targets and whether such actions could be seen as murder.
Under paragraph 7 which reads,
"Methods used the BSB does not regard that as murder and defines it as possible an assault on an enemy bases was not a standard issuing of weapons in an unconventional way not to harm. Under Chapter 9 internal activities elimination of specific targets. A channel of handling these aspects are being established. This channel will be discussed on the 12th May and a certain person will be present".
And then if you look at paragraph 10.2 on page 2.
"BSB will make certain recommendations for targets but it should be referred along that channel to a certain person. To HSAW".
In your view of the remarks of the then SADF, Chief of the South African Defence Force General Geldenhuys constitute an aberration?
MR DE KLERK: Mr Chairperson I must object to once again this question and I think we must have clarity on this. Firstly I don't know whether this document is an authentic document.
MR GOOSEN: There's an affidavit attached to it.
MR DE KLERK: Fine but an affidavit doesn't make something the truth. Many people lie under oath. We know that every day in court magistrates and judges find that under oath the most terrible lies have been told. I would like to know has this question been put to who was then Chief of the Defence Force? That would be, Mr Chairman, to my opinion, the way of treating people who are drawn into things, fairly. Not to ask other witnesses to comment on a document with regard to which the authenticity might still be in question.
And I would urge you, that on this type of situation, especially also in the light of the ruling of the Appellate Division with regard to the court case as to procedures which should be followed, that the best available evidence should first be followed up and should be tested in terms of the whole ethos of our judicial system, before this type of exercise is undertaken.
Just looking at this document I haven't had the advantage of checking it, of looking at it in context, but just looking at it, it appears to me from lines here as if it might be a document which might have been tampered with. I know General Geldenhuys, if he said that he will admit it. Ask him.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson, Mr de Klerk with respect, firstly I indicated the document was tabled at the - and was submitted in evidence at the Goniwe inquest, the inquest which you correctly indicate you facilitated by changing the law, it was not challenged by the SADF which was represented there by senior counsel. The document was also, and has also been submitted at another inquest, namely in the inquest of Anton Lubowski. There too the matter, it was not challenged by anyone.
If you would have regard please to page 4 you will see that Brigadier Joubert who was the officer commanding special forces of the South African Defence Force confirms on oath that he was present, and he also confirms the authenticity of the document. That is on oath. His oath Sir, with respect, is as compelling an oath as your oath is today. Whether the document is put to General Geldenhuys or not is in fact, with respect, completely beside the point. I am asking you Sir, as leader of the National Party, you have proffered an explanation of the basis upon which State policy should be interpreted, that murder was never regarded as an element of State policy, I am asking you Sir for a comment.
MR DE KLERK: Mr Chairman I have been referred to page 4 and it's quoted here as if it substantiates. Page 4 is an extract from a document. I don't even have the advantage, apart from the fact that I haven't had these documents, I don't even have the advantage to know what was said in paragraph 7 and paragraph 6 and 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 of this affidavit ...(intervention)
MR GOOSEN: It appears on page 3.
MR DE KLERK: And what he said on the rest ...(intervention)
MR GOOSEN: It appears on page 3, Sir.
MR DE KLERK: It's just an - yes, but I'm just getting an extract from a document.
MR GOOSEN: No, it's not it appears on page 3, and 4, and 5 if you have a look ...(intervention)
MR DE KLERK: No I'm sorry, I'm sorry if I look at the typewriting of page 4, page 4 marked in pencil is part of a document which had more than one page, where is the other page of that document?
MR GOOSEN: No Sir, please have a look at page 3, at the top it says, "Here I acknowledge, General Joubert...", the only difference, Sir, between page 4 and page 3 in the type face that you indicate is that it's been slightly reduced so that it can appear on the one page. That is the only difference. The affidavit continues, it in fact comprises only two pages, 3 and 4, and you will indicate there that this is the affidavit which was handed in, the original of that affidavit, Sir, was handed in at the Goniwe Inquest and this is a copy of it. And it's indicated that it is signed by and duly affirmed to by Brigadier Joubert. I have indicated that to you.
What I have also indicated, if you want to have a look, Sir, on top of page 33 you will see G33. I can indicate to you that that's my handwriting because I acted in the Goniwe Inquest and I marked it when it was handed in. Exactly the same as on page 1 of the bundle, "G33" that's my handwriting as is G33 "Composite document" on the top left-hand corner, it's my handwriting. I was present when it was handed in. I indicated that to you at the outset.
MR DE KLERK: Mr Chairperson I don't know how long this document has been in existence, why wasn't it made available to me beforehand? I am sorry I am not going to reply to this question. I would like an opportunity to study it, to ask for amplification of documents if necessary and then I will give a written reply to written questions submitted on this to me.
MR GOOSEN: Yes.
MR DE KLERK: I am not applying evasive action. But I think that it is absolutely unfair to present me suddenly here with a document that must have some relevance that it has 61 pages.
MR GOOSEN: It certainly does.
MR DE KLERK: And suddenly I must now begin to say something about page 1, and then something about page 3. I want to be fully informed about the background of the questioning, and I want time to study it and therefore I am not prepared to continue to reply to this question in this instance.
MR GOOSEN: Alright. Similar concerns regarding the liability of senior ranking officers was set out in a document which was seized from the SADF's directorate of special tasks, DST, during - which was sent during October 1988 from the then Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Vice Admiral Putte to the Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan. The extract is contained in the bundle of documents at page 6 of this bundle.
MR DE KLERK: We are wasting time now Mr President, I...
MR GOOSEN: You don't have any comment to make?
MR DE KLERK: I have indicated, I haven't had a look at page 6, and I have indicated that I am not prepared to just off-the-cuff glancing at a document, to make comments and to make replies.
CHAIRPERSON: I think it will be a reasonable request that he has prior sighting of the document. If you are wanting to follow up questioning I think we - we are not, I've always said we are not a court of law, we are setting out to discover what the truths are and if it will assist Mr de Klerk and I mean I think that the point he makes is a valid point, if you are wanting to persist in your questioning I think I would have to say we can't, if we are using this, he should be left to have time to look at it and you can give him the questions in writing and we would expect a response.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson if that's how you would wish to proceed then we'll proceed that way. I may indicate, right at the outset, that I did indicate at the outset that the purpose of the exercise is to determine the issue of political accountability. Certain categories have been raised by the National Party and that's what I am exploring. The two documents to which I have referred thus far, do not in fact, on the face of them, implicate Mr de Klerk in any unlawful activity. I am asking him for a comment, as the leader of the National Party and former State President, to give me an indication of what his view is ex facie the documents which indicates that certain unlawful actions were perpetrated by very senior members of the South African Defence Force.
It is in exactly the same category as a factual question which I may put (...indistinct) or for that matter any of the other ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: Let me say Glen that if you are going to be using the document I have said I think it is a reasonable request that Mr de Klerk has made and that if we are going to question him on the basis of this then he has to have had the opportunity of a sighting and be able to consult with whomever he wants to consult.
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson then I will move from that issue and I will deal with another issue which does not require reference to any specific document for the moment which may assist the proceedings.
CHAIRPERSON: That's a great relief. (General laughter)
MR GOOSEN: There are, however, other documents which are attached to the bundle which we certainly would wish to deal with at a later stage in this questioning.
Mr de Klerk the European Court of Human Rights has adopted the following approach to the concept of official tolerance, and I quote to you:
"The term "official tolerance" means that though acts of torture or ill-treatment are plainly illegal they are tolerated in the sense that superiors of those immediately responsible, though cognisant of such acts, take no action to punish them or prevent their repetition, or that higher authority, in the face of numerous allegations, manifests indifference by refusing any adequate investigation of their truth or falsity, or that in judicial proceedings a fair hearing of such complaints is denied".
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has received evidence of almost 1,200 acts of torture by the security forces. Security force members are responsible for more than 50% of the acts of torture where a perpetrator is known or identified by the deponent. Those responsible range from sergeants to generals and are spread across the - and the period is across the entire TRC mandate period. 42% of torture victims complained of torture on more than one occasion, a factor which suggests the torture of persons in custody is systematic and routine.
Thousands of articles have appeared in the press throughout the TRC mandate period in which people complained about torture in custody. We have some extracts, at least two newspapers dealing with that type of reference in newspaper articles.
In 1973 the United Nations found substantial evidence of torture of detainees.
In 1982 the Detainee's Parents Support Committee submitted a memorandum to the Minister of Law and Order containing over 70 affidavits containing allegations of torture in detention.
In 1983 the Medical Association of South Africa - Report on Detainees, found that detention constitutes a health hazard for detainees.
In 1985 the Association of Law Societies published a report in which it held that complaints of assault were not speedily investigated with sufficient care a an independently high level.
In 1985 the Port Elizabeth Supreme Court granted an interdict to Dr Wendy Orr restraining members of the security police from assaulting detainees. The interdict was granted based on affidavits from over 150 detainees.
In 1985 the Institute of Criminology in Cape Town published a report in which 83% of 176 former detainees interviewed by the Institute complained of torture.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of torture in detention no effective steps were taken to investigate or stamp out these abuses. Indeed the information gathered by the TRC indicates that the rate of torture during the 39 months of the state of emergency is more than double any other non-emergency period.
How did the National Party regard these allegations at the time? And is the National Party guilty of tolerating torture?
MR DE KLERK: Mr Chairman the National Party is not supportive of torture. I reject it. It's wrong. And within my knowledge, if I think back, this issue was raised at times. We were given assurances that regular visits were paid to camps as visits to jails. I can specifically recall that, I think it was when I was already President, where a special new system of very regular visits by magistrates were instituted in order to ensure that there would be inspection and opportunity for people who have complaints to lodge their complaints.
So within my recollection we had reason to believe firstly, that there were measures in place to assist in the prevention of this, and definitely within my recollection, I can't recall the date, I can't recall exactly when it was, there was a dramatic improvement of those measures in order to make sure that we will prevent that. Part of this was also, once again I can't recall the date offhand, allowing visits by the Red Cross and making it possible for outside monitoring organisations to visit jails and to visit places of detention in order to evaluate and to bring out reports. The very fact that all these reports have been brought out, I think substantiate the fact that there wasn't necessarily a cover-up.
I would also suggest that maybe steps should be taken, if it hasn't been taken by the Commission as yet to ascertain whether there were any prosecutions, either in court or departmental prosecutions against people who made themselves guilty of any transgressions against inmates or detainees. We know that it is a problem throughout the world, it is a problem in each and every justice system that at times detainees, suspects, are dealt with by security forces across the world in an unacceptable way. It actually forms the theme of almost every fourth American film that one looks at.
MR GOOSEN: From a number of amnesty applications received I must indicate, not necessarily where persons have applied for amnesty in relation to specific acts of torture, amnesty applicants indicate, as part of their motivation in their amnesty applications, that torture of detainees was regarded as routine and standard practice for security police members.
How would you - and that would have been to the knowledge of senior members of the security police, also to the level of the headquarters of the South African security police, how would you explain that understanding of an amnesty applicant or members of the security police in the light of the view adopted by you about torture?
MR DE KLERK: I'm not exactly sure what the essence of your question is, could you repeat it please?
MR GOOSEN: Sir you have indicated that clearly it wasn't official policy from your point of view and where there were, certainly there were discussions held to try to deal with the problem of torture, from amnesty applicants, members of the security police, it appears that they regarded the torture of detainees as standard procedure. How does that fit in with the notion that, from an official point of view, the torture of detainees was actively combatted where it was found to exist?
MR DE KLERK: Well firstly I don't just accept the fact that it was standard procedure just because some people say it was standard procedure. The detainees at all times there was the realisation, we are now referring to detainees held without trial in terms of the emergency legislation, that they would have to be released rather sooner than later. And when they have been there too long I can recall in-depth discussions what must we do to bring detention without trial to an end to put these people back into their normal lives. Surely knowing that this was a temporary situation it would have been folly on anybody's side to think that they can do what they want to these people due to be released maybe in two weeks time, maybe in a month's time, maybe in two month's time?
I therefore don't just accept the statement that it was standard practice. That it might be standard practice amongst some individuals, that is what I have been referring to is happening, and continues to happen across the world. We were at all times under the impression that many claims that torture had taken place were on the other hand propaganda. We were told that detainees were under orders from the ANC to also complain of torture. I am not asking you to accept that that was true, but that was the information which we were also given at times when matters like these and other similar matters were discussed.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. I could just once again point out, as I indicated at the outset, that of the 1,200 acts of torture attributed to security forces, the indication is that over the period the rate of torture in the period of the state of emergency which is when the two week detention orders generally would have applied, more than doubles in relation to non-emergency periods. But perhaps we can't take that further at this point.
MR DE KLERK: Can I just say one thing on that. I deny that there was toleration and sort-of acceptance and actual support for any such a practice.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. You have moved to a new section, you want to move - I wonder just for the sake of all of us whether you don't want a stretch, but not going out, a two minute stretch, no smokes....
CHAIRPERSON: I am now going to give an opportunity to some of my colleagues on the panel who may have questions and then we will hand back to Glen Goosen. Denzil Potgieter.
MR POTGIETER: Thank you Chairperson. Mr de Klerk could we just go back to an explanation which you volunteered in regard to one of these aberrations that you debated this morning and that is this question of Vlakplaas, and let's just see if we do understand your position correctly in respect of Vlakplaas.
Is your explanation that what actually happened was that officers lower down in the hierarchy of the police were doing this Vlakplaas exercise entirely on their own, in the process misleading their superior officers to the extent where the four general which you approached and who, to your mind, should have been aware of what was happening could tell you that they don't know a thing about Vlakplaas? And to the extent where you suggest that more than likely false reports were made to these superior officers. Is that the explanation that you proffer in respect of Vlakplaas?
MR DE KLERK: In your question you say "should have known" referring to the generals?
MR POTGIETER: Yes, I am quoting you.
MR DE KLERK: No, I don't think I said should have known, and if I did then I would like to re-phrase it because that's not what I intend to say.
MR POTGIETER: Perhaps I am mistaken.
MR DE KLERK: Was in the best position to know, because they dealt with police finances, they were involved in specific positions which were relevant to the type of purpose which I believe Vlakplaas was there, and that is for intelligence purposes, for getting people who walked over from the ANC to get information from them, to use them in the gathering of information and the like, as I dealt with in my written replies. They were, therefore, in a position, in a much better position than a minister or than a president or than anybody else to ascertain and to know. And my discussions with them led me to the conclusion that they say, very firmly, that they were not aware of it. To the best of my knowledge also they didn't apply for amnesty. Now if they were aware of it then the person immediately beneath them would know that they are aware of it, and likewise down the ladder, and therefore it would have been wise for them to apply for amnesty. The fact that they don't I quoted as substantiation that they believe that they have nothing to fear from this because they didn't know about it.
So therefore they also say what I say. To the best of my knowledge, General van der Merwe in his interaction with you has said that he didn't know what was happening, and that is the point that I wanted to bring across.
MR POTGIETER: Fair enough.
MR DE KLERK: So they had a different impression of what was going on than what was actually going on.
MR POTGIETER: Ja, I think we understand each other on that level. But you took it a step further, you gave as an explanation, look your position, if I understand it correctly, is that Vlakplaas is an aberration like a lot of these other things that were debated this morning, and the explanation, as I understand it that you were proffering, was that it must have been an officer or two or whatever lower down the hierarchy, somewhere below these generals who were doing this exercise, this Vlakplaas exercise, entirely on their own bat.
MR DE KLERK: That is my impression. I don't know exactly what those who are applying for Vlakplaas are saying. I haven't had the same insight into what they are saying in their amnesty applications, they might allege differently and I've dealt with that with regard to other examples. That the mere fact that an applicant for amnesty says something doesn't make it the truth. It is the most natural thing in life that somebody accused of something, caught out in doing something is trying to shift the blame elsewhere. It happens from the smallest of sins as the Archbishop will know to also the gravest of crimes.
MR POTGIETER: Fair enough. But you see what we have to do is we have to test that explanation, which as I say, you volunteered and Vlakplaas is indeed an issue which is on our agenda. We have to look into that and we must make findings in respect of Vlakplaas.
So the question that comes to mind is how reasonable is that explanation, that a lowly officer below these generals was responsible for this entire aberration that led to all these things that we know are being disclosed?
MR DE KLERK: There is nothing reasonable in crime. It's unreasonable. I don't want to take this very serious matter to a note of levity, but it's not the policy of the Commission that constantly information should be leaked to the press, but it happens. It happens. And it's a very serious issue I believe for you to have confidentiality maintained. But the reason which the deputy chairperson gave when a press conference on the so-called Steyn Report was held, was that there was such an imminent leak that he had, without telling me about it, without contacting me, that he had to hold such a press conference. Now although in the one case we are dealing with something fairly innocuous in comparison with the other, at what level does it take place in the Commission? Should the Commissioners know? Should the Executive head on the side of the officials know? Where does it occur?
And likewise here, things happened, inasmuch as it happened in the period after 1990 or 1988, 1989 I can only deduct that the motivation was, and if I read what appeared in the newspaper about what de Kock said about me, that there was, in his heart and amongst some of his colleagues, a feeling that I was selling out the country. I recall reading that they said to each other at a certain stage well let's do this last thing now just to prove our point. So there's no reasonable explanation for that, but that appears to me is how it happened.
MR POTGIETER: Now let's just see, I mean I am trying to ascertain whether we understand your position correctly here, are you suggesting that it was at the level of the people in charge of Vlakplaas itself, officer in charge, like you've referred to Mr de Kock, is it at that level that they've been conducting this operation without anybody higher up knowing and effectively hiding this whole operation from scrutiny from on top?
MR DE KLERK: I can't tell you at which level. At least it was at his level according to his own evidence and to court findings. I don't know whether there was anybody higher up involved or not. That you will have to ascertain and once again I think the proper route is when such allegations are made is to confront the person who is accused of having authorised it with the allegation and to test that allegation in a fair way. That is what such a person accused is entitled to in terms of fair process.
MR POTGIETER: Yes. No, no, I take that point. All I am trying to do is to ascertain from you whether the explanation and I've said to you, you have volunteered it, it wasn't part of the questioning, you've actually raised it yourself, are you saying to us that this is just a hunch, that it's not a confident position that you hold? Is it something that's just an idea that you have? Or how must we understand that explanation?
MR DE KLERK: I believe what the generals say to me. And therefore I don't offer it as an explanation, I offer it as an example where I have reason to believe, based on the accounts of four people to me, that specifically in the case of Vlakplaas fundamental information with regard to totally unacceptable things for which we are all so sorry and which abhor all of us so much, have taken place without the knowledge of superiors.
MR POTGIETER: Just in conclusion in this regard, is it possible in your experience as the President of the country previously, that a commander of Vlakplaas would have been able to sustain, taken all the resources that you need, finances, etc, etc to sustain that situation on his own and keeping it secret from everybody else higher up?
MR DE KLERK: Yes I think it's possible, it happens every day with theft, where for months on end in the bank system with all the precautionary methods, with all the double checking, where nonetheless people working for banks or for attorneys find it possible to embezzle vast amounts of money without being found out.
MR POTGIETER: And what could be the possible motivation for a person in that position, the Commander of Vlakplaas to be doing this?
MR DE KLERK: That would be to my mind a clear example of the mala fide category. Can I just say I dealt with this, I just didn't offer this here this morning. On page 38 of my second submission in reply to question 2 under the heading of questions on the SADF and other security structures, I said,
"It has subsequently been revealed that some organs within the State administration, such as the Vlakplaas Unit and the CCB did act outside the law. Such actions were, however, never authorised by the Cabinet, the State Security Council or any other body which I have ever attended. Indeed I was not even aware of the existence of the CCB until its activities were exposed. I had heard of the Vlakplaas installation but was under the impression that it was a facility for the reorientation of captured ANC cadres who wished to work for the security forces. I have been assured by General van der Merwe, the former Commissioner of South African Police that he was also not aware of such activities, and believe that his evidence to the Commission will bear this out. Likewise, enquiries to other senior police generals also testified to the fact that they were unaware of the atrocities planned and perpetrated from Vlakplaas. After investigations that I had initiated brought such activities to light I took appropriate steps to terminate the activities concerned".
MR POTGIETER: Just rounding it off, I know I said in conclusion but, so you are suggesting that the possible motivation is just sheer criminality, sheer bloody-mindedness on the part of people who had been running this secret operation?
MR DE KLERK: Well or - and I am not saying it to justify it, or in some instances a belief that the threat was such that they had to do it. I think I dealt in my original submission with the various possible motivations which people had for what they did. And I am just looking for that. It was where we analysed the nature of the - on page 16 no that just deals with unconventional, but let me read that. On page 16 of my original submission,
"It was not only the strict security legislation and the state of emergency which created an atmosphere conducive to abuses and transgressions. The unconventional nature of the revolutionary threat created circumstances in which conventional responses proved to be less and less effective. The revolutionary strategies adopted by the government's opponents blurred traditional distinctions between combatants and non-combatants, between legitimate and illegitimate targets and between acceptable and unacceptable methods. The normal processes of law and even the government's tough security measures seemed incapable of dealing with this situation. Members of the security forces watched with increasing frustration while revolutionary movements organised, mobilised and intimidated or killed their opponents seemingly at will. The security forces were expected to play by the rules while their opponents could and did use any methods that they liked. There was a perceived need for unconventional counter-strategies of the kind developed by the British and others in successful campaigns against insurgency and terrorism".
And then elsewhere I dealt with also the specific circumstances they had to face. Many police were infuriated by the fact that so many of their colleagues had been killed in cold-blood. Have been murdered, have been assassinated, have been at the receiving end merely because they were police, and that might have played a role. But once again I'm not a psychologist, I'm not an expert witness on psychology or what motivates people. I can just give a layman's opinion.
MR POTGIETER: Thank you. I've clarified the point, thank you Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Glen you said you wanted to follow up on this.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. Just a question Mr de Klerk, you indicated and you referred to the passages in your submission that you were given certain assurances about Vlakplaas by General van der Merwe, and you indicated in your response to certain questions that you believed General van der Merwe, do you still believe General van der Merwe that he knew nothing about the operations of Vlakplaas?
MR DE KLERK: Unless I have evidence that he is lying, I found him an honourable man. I found him a responsible Commissioner of Police and I apply the rule that unless there's evidence pointing to a man with such a responsibility and such a good history of loyal service, that I don't question his word just on the basis of rumours.
MR GOOSEN: He would be responsible for those rumours himself in the form of an amnesty application which is an application on oath, in which he confirms not only that he was involved in the chain of command authorising the killing of eight people and the maiming of seven others in the Zero Handgrenade incident which we spoke about earlier, but he also confirms the version of the operatives who were Vlakplaas operatives who actually carried out that operation.
MR DE KLERK: If that is so then obviously what he told me is not the true position.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Yasmin Sooka.
MR DE KLERK: But can I just round the other reply off and say but it remains a fact that he said it.
MS SOOKA: Mr de Klerk this morning, as a number of examples were quoted to you, you in fact made a distinction and you said that at the level of the operatives you can accept that they were bona fide in their interpretation of the instructions given to them. But you also indicate at the higher level, at the person responsible for the authorisation, that those people acted mala fide and in fact their actions were unlawful. Now most of the cases quoted to you it really is people at a very high-ranking level who have done the authorisation. Many of them are generals. At their level they are much closer to Cabinet, what would account for their misunderstanding or their misinterpretation of policy? Surely they would have a clearer vision of what government policy is on these kind of issues?
MR DE KLERK: Well firstly I just want to reiterate again that I have in quite a number of instances gained the very clear impression that the alleged knowledge of such people, high-ranking people is based on an allegation by applicants and that they have not been afforded the opportunity to admit or deny that they actually did know and that the orders actually originated from them or not, and that is the route which I sincerely believe the Commission should travel before accepting that they knew. It must be tested.
Having said that let me just say that the policy with regard to security formulated at Cabinet and State Security Council level was caged in general terms. The process, it was a policy there's a revolutionary onslaught. This revolutionary onslaught must be withstood. The goals of the revolutionaries are to overthrow the government, to make the country ungovernable, it needs strong measures. And then it would be operationalised in the sense that then the Minister and the Director General or the Commissioner or the head of the Defence Force would, on a specific issue, develop a wider sort-of guidelines to say now this is the framework, we need to start an operation to address a specific problem. This is the framework for such an operation. That would not come to me, that would not come to anybody, that would be between the Minister and the Director General. And to the best of my knowledge the normal process would then be that that framework for an operation would then go to the specific branch or the specific section of the SADF or the police who, where it should be in terms of their specific line function and they would then, and the senior officer there would then take responsibility to fill in this framework and to now operationalise it into a sort-of an instruction, what's the English word - almost a directive. And then from there on the nearer you come, then somebody will say well to implement this we need eight lorries and we need 50 troops and we need to depart at five o'clock in the morning and we need to be there at six o'clock in the afternoon, that detailed operationalisation takes place then at a much lower level.
No doubt quite often that is where, then, either through over-zealousness or through a mala fide approach, whatever the motivation might be of an individual involved where things get out of hand, where it wasn't foreseen that it should happen, yes the operation was authorised, go and catch the people who are illegally moving from South Africa to be trained by Umkhonto, prevent them from going. So such an order might have been given.
I'm just using an example which has been used in questions. Then the people who catch them don't only catch them, they don't only prevent them from doing so. That's one possibility. And I think that is the logical possibility.
MS SOOKA: Thank you. Just one more question Archbishop on the question of torture and I think you proffered some explanation that you took measures in fact to contain it, but you also proffered another explanation that often this was the propaganda of the ANC. I simply would like to inform you that in the course of our questioning, through our Section 29 process, very high-ranking officers have informed the Commission that in fact torture was widespread, and that in fact it was so widespread that it was not confined only to the security forces, ordinary policemen, each had their own instrument and their own bag of tricks. I would like to refer you to a matter which was raised this morning where Stanza Bopape in fact died while he was being tortured and there a Commissioner of the Police in fact has applied for amnesty for his part in the cover-up of Stanza's murder.
MR DE KLERK: Well that's terrible, that's terrible and I did say that we were told at times that such propaganda is being spread. I also said that because of the many rumours steps were taken, with hindsight I have no problem in saying maybe it wasn't timeous enough and maybe it wasn't strong enough with the facts now coming to the fore. I'm not saying we were perfect. I am not saying we didn't make mistakes. I am not saying that on such issues, with all these shocking facts coming to the fore, that maybe we should have done more. But what I am saying is, that we didn't just lump everything and close our eyes that there was a process of stepping up measures to prevent that, to give inmates access to outside advice,, to legal advice, to visiting magistrates, to visiting delegations to check on them, to offer them the opportunity to expose it where it continued or where it took place.
MS SOOKA: Sir, I think the point I want to make is you are offering us an explanation that in fact these things were committed by a few individuals and I think in your own submission you talk about a few mavericks, but I think we are faced with insurmountable evidence that it in fact was widespread across the security forces, and I think that's the point that we want to bring home. You have proffered an explanation and we want to test that explanation.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
MR DE KLERK: Can I just react to that by firstly saying, I don't think that when I say that there was a maverick element which was relatively small, which did all these dastardly deeds that I am not then including in that general practices such as hitting a prisoner with fists, slapping him, kicking him around in order to frighten him to get evidence, that is widespread and that has been widespread and it's widespread in all countries, it doesn't make it right, but it's a fact, it's a problem that you have to deal with in each and every police force. But murder and assassination was not, to the best of my experience, something which was widespread.
With the facts coming to the fore I am not saying that I am shocked by how many people have been implicated. When I drew this in 1996, my first submission, these facts were not on the table. I was as unaware of many of the things which have come to the fore as you have been at that stage, and my expectation at that stage was that the number of gross violations of human rights from the side of the security forces would be much more limited than the evidence which is coming to the fore now. That is why I am blatantly honest with you when I say I am as shocked as you are about these many revelations.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Now Richard you wanted....
MR LYSTER: Yes thank you Mr Chairman, just briefly.
CHAIRPERSON: A brief point, alright, Richard Lyster, yes.
MR LYSTER: Mr de Klerk you've said on a number of occasions that it's human nature for people in their amnesty applications to blame other people. Now many of these amnesty applications that we've heard about today the people don't blame anybody else. They make application on their own behalf. Taking, for example, the 12 executions carried out in KwaZulu Natal, nobody else is blamed, they maintain in their applications that they did this off their own initiative.
And what makes it problematic for us, or your explanation that this was an aberration or unusual or a handful of operatives is that these were not constables on the beat. These were colonels and a general which makes it very, very difficult for us to accept your explanation that these, like Vlakplaas, were mere aberrations. If that is so there were lots of aberrations taking place all over the country, because we have senior people coming forward and saying, I did this and I'm telling you I did it because I am scared of being prosecuted, not because they've had a change of heart. And that's what is also very clear from these amnesty applications. People are coming forward because they are scared of prosecution. So ...(intervention)
MR DE KLERK: Yes, but I've never indicated that aberrations were not also at high levels. I'm not shifting - I've the whole morning being coming out very sympathetically towards juniors in junior positions where seniors were involved in this with them or where there is real evidence that orders have been given. The blame should rest where the aberration or where the crime originated. We are talking about not aberrations, we are talking about crimes Mr Commissioner. I am not just running it down as aberrations. Those were crimes which, if it wasn't for amnesty, should have been prosecuted, and that is where I stand. And they are serious crimes. And whether you are a general or whether you are a minister or whether whomever you are, if you were involved and part and parcel of that crime such a person is culpable and such a person must then, if it falls within the ambit of the law, apply for amnesty. So I have just said that I am shocked, there are more people apparently involved if I look at the number of applications. I don't know how many incidents are involved. But it is a general problem.
If I read the ANC's evidence, and I am not saying it to defend my point, correctly they say they were not in favour of necklacing, but nonetheless I think more-or-less 500 necklacings and each one was an individual occasion, more-or-less, 500 necklace murders occurred. They were crimes, not aberrations.
And I must accept if there is evidence from the ANC's leadership that they tried to stop it although as I point out there are quotes from the late Chris Hani and so on which indicates that they actually condoned this. But many, many instances, the fact that there were many instances, that is because that is what the whole debate has been about this morning. What does it prove? It proves that it was much more widespread and it's a shocking state of affairs and I'm extremely sorry that it has happened.
I can just say that I went out of my way to institute preventative measures, to investigate rumours and allegations and that - and once again with hindsight, knowing what I know now, I should have done certain things maybe sooner. I should have done certain different things, additional things, but with the light that I had at that point in time, and with the information at my disposal, and with the information which I got when I made enquiries, I, in a bona fide manner and my government with me, tried to deal with as effectively as was possible.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Dr Boraine.
DR BORAINE: Mr de Klerk I want to take you back to your opening statement where inter alia you said that you as leader and your party accepts responsibility and offers apology for policies which hurt people, and you mentioned some of these. I quote your words:
"Forced removals, pass laws, racial discrimination, denial of citizenship, job reservation...."
and so on, and you said, and I wrote your words down, but I'm not saying that they are exactly as what you said, but as a result of these policies and these laws tremendous harm was done to millions of South Africans, and that you wish to again affirm your own apology and that of your party.
Since then we have listened to a number of cases which took place in South Africa, which you yourself have described as horrendous, awful. In particular we have had evidence that statements from senior people that torture was routine or widespread, whether they were right or wrong but the fact that they are saying that they were involved in it suggests that there's some veracity in that.
Now against the background of these acts which have only come to light, but which I must say many people in South Africa were not surprised to hear the confessions of senior policemen, there were many press reports, many international reports, many statements made inside, outside of Parliament about what was happening as a result of apartheid policies. But be that as it may, bearing that in mind, and the tremendous harm done to millions of South Africans, during the last months did you at any time weigh up, at least weigh up the possibility of applying for amnesty?
MR DE KLERK: The short answer to that is, yes, I have looked very carefully at the question and I have actually made a public statement on it where I dealt with my reasons for not doing so, and in which I essentially said the following. And I said that also based on legal advice that I asked amnesty is there to get a pardon for a crime of which you believe you could be found guilty if you were charged in court. And I think that is the explanation which was given by the Commission itself. Amnesty is not there, that is not the correct channel, in which to express your sorrow, your acceptance of responsibility, your repentance for things which are not crimes, and I have not been involved in anything which can be - which can constitute any form of credible charge that I have been guilty of any crime. And therefore the channel for accepting that responsibility I said in the statement is you, is a hearing like this, is the submission which I made in August last year; is the submission which I made in reply to questions and is the submission which I made this morning. When Dr Koornhof phoned me a few days before he actually lodged his application, whereas anybody who said I have a problem, I might have been involved in this crime, I said go and apply, I supported everybody who wanted to apply for amnesty to do so, but in Dr Koornhof's case, on a personal level, my advice to him was I don't think you need to apply, find another way of saying how sorry you are, because you will be cluttering up the amnesty process and there's no way in which I know that you are guilty of any crime. But that doesn't detract from the earnestness with which we say that people have been harmed.
But in the time when some of the things that you are referring were happening I must also point out, once again not as justification, as Minister of Education I have been expanding education and improving education standards for all. My fellow ministers, the Minister of Housing was building houses much more effectively than the present government is doing at the moment. New schools were being built. New opportunities were being created. Legislation was reviewed and all forms of discriminatory legislation was removed. You see what we must realise, and this is why it's important, once again it's not offered as justification, is apartheid did not come as an institutionalised policy and as a policy did not come to an end in 1994. It came to an end as a policy already in 1986. And from then onwards, not only with words, but with deeds, apartheid was in a very logical and methodical way, dismantled by the National Party.
In this period millions of South Africans, who have been at the receiving end of apartheid became supporters of the National Party. So it's not just semantics when I say that looking at phases is important. The National Party is no longer, and for some years now, hasn't been an apartheid party. It is a truly non-racial party. More than 50% of its votes came from people of colour. And to continue to tarnish the National Party as it now is with the apartheid brush is absolutely unfair and it is factually totally wrong to do so.
DR BORAINE: Thank you. May I just remind you that I was quoting your words and not mine, and that the ...(intervention)
MR DE KLERK: No, no, I'm not aggressive, I'm just bringing this across Mr Commissioner, Mr Deputy Chairman, to make it clear that yes, I accept it because I speak on behalf of the National Party when I say this, the National Party over the years.
DR BORAINE: I accept that entirely. I think it is true, of course, that the consequences of many of these policies over a 40 year period are also still with us today. And what I want to put to you is that in the Act when a gross human rights violation is defined it also includes the definition severe ill-treatment. I want to suggest to you that as a prominent member of the National Party, as one of its leaders for a number of years and finally its President and now head of the National Party, that in terms of your own statement that tremendous harm has been done to millions of South Africans, 17 million people were prosecuted under the pass laws, for example, more than 3 million people were forcibly removed, that I would suggest that it could be defined as severe ill-treatment.
As accepting political and moral responsibility for that I would have thought that the amnesty process was the exact place where both in terms of your own statements, the consequences of policies which are with us today and will be with us for a very long time in terms of suffering, and for the sake of reconciliation, that it would have been helpful, and I ask for your comment, if you had taken that step of applying for amnesty.
MR DE KLERK: I am not being legalistic when I say that Parliament made a law, that law instituted this Commission and this Commission has three main tasks. The one is to deal with amnesty in respect of crimes, and only those who are involved in crimes should, to my mind, use the amnesty procedure.
Then the truth, the truth also deals with the harm done to people, with everything, the whole context which caused the bitterness, which caused the conflict and apartheid is very relevant and the harm that it has done with regard to that aspect of your task. And the right place to deal with one's role that you have played in that situation is under that heading.
The third is reparation. Reparation has already started in many instances when apartheid was abolished. But you have a tremendous challenge ahead of you in conjunction with the government and with all other role players in South Africa to look at the question of reparation.
So it is within that framework that I am saying I am not just being legalistic. It would be using the wrong procedure, the wrong aspect of your activities to use the amnesty route.
DR BORAINE: Thank you Mr de Klerk. I don't want to pursue this any longer, save to say, and certainly it's too late in any case, but save to say that in terms of the Act that not only talks about commission but also omission and secondly, the whole question of severe ill-treatment could not only be acted against in a criminal court but also in a civil court, and I don't want to argue this matter, I am just saying that in the light of the overall legacy of apartheid, let's accept that apartheid is over, that the legacy of apartheid is such that to try and reach reconciliation in this country every attempt should be made to accept fundamental responsibility. But you've made that point and I thank you for your answer.
MR DE KLERK: Can I just say, the civil courts have never been closed to anybody in South Africa. During the years when it was apartheid at its worst, any individual assisted, if it was a poor individual, assisted by the best legal brains in the world, if that assistance could be organised, had free access to our civil courts. And in that sense where anybody was harmed to the extent that it gave rise to a civil claim in terms of our generally speaking very fair common law, which is built upon international principles, our civil courts have always been accessible to anybody.
DR BORAINE: I think the point I was making that it may well have to be available in the future.
CHAIRPERSON: Dr Ramashala this is the last before we break for lunch.
DR RAMASHALA: Mr de Klerk, Sir, you present both a dilemma and a very serious contradiction where you say you accept moral and political responsibility on behalf, and I quote because that's according to your definition now, "on behalf of criminals".
MR DE KLERK: On behalf of?
DR RAMASHALA: Of criminals. If we follow through with the classification according to mala fide and bona fides, these are people who perpetrated criminal activities, so you present a dilemma for me. If the carrying out of murders, tortures and other violations was never the official policy of the National Party what did the Party, as a State, do to monitor and deal with the perpetrators of gross-human rights violations, particularly between this period, that is the mandate of the Truth Commission?
Surely Sir, no Cabinet Minister can claim to have been unaware of gross human rights violations on the part of the security forces?
The massacres, detentions, severe torture leading to death were often picked up by the media and the international community joined to condemn apartheid practices especially of gross human rights violations, if the perpetrators were not authorised specifically what did the State do?
I mean you are saying a number of things were done, specifically what did the State do to monitor these?
The massacres, detention of young people, young people leaving the country out of fear, if all these resulted from unauthorised practices specifically what steps did the State take to protect all citizens?
Where does your argument in response to this classification of mala fide and bona fides where does it leave the people who have applied for amnesty or even those who have been granted amnesty for that matter?
Specifically what are you taking moral and political responsibility for?
Sir, to say that you neither authorised nor knew about such serious violations suggests, at least to me, that you were not in charge and I find that very difficult to accept. Thank you.
MR DE KLERK: Thank you. Can I just start out by saying that I also in, I think I must read again what I said about the acceptance of responsibility. I would ask the Commissioner to listen very carefully. I said that,
"The National Party and I accept full responsibility for all our policies, decisions and actions. We stand by our security forces who implemented such policies and decisions and all reasonable interpretations thereof. We accept that our security legislation and the state of emergency created circumstances which were conducive to many of the abuses and transgressions against human rights which form the basis of the Commission's investigations, creating or playing a role in the creation of such atmosphere because the ANC also played a role in the creation of such an atmosphere, by planting bombs, by doing this, by doing that. We acknowledge that our implementation of unconventional projects likewise created such an atmosphere, no rules, easier to do things against the rules. We have no problem with General Malan's formulation of acceptance of overall responsibility".
Then I said,
"But like the ANC, like General Malan and many others the National Party also says that many things happened which were not authorised, not intended and of which we were not aware".
And then in the end I said,
"We accept overall moral and political responsibility for our part in the conflicts of the past".
Now what the question, the essence of the question is, if you say you didn't know you should have known, and you didn't do enough to find out. Now I've listed in my original submission on page 26 and 27 some of the steps which we have taken. I said that,
"Soon after my inauguration I gave instructions for the investigation of all secret and covert operations of the security forces with a view to their possible termination. By March 1990 a number of such operations had been phased out".
I then account the fact that I spoke to the police, I have already dealt with that this morning.
"In February 1990 I appointed the Harms Commission to investigate certain alleged murders".
The Harms Commission, it later came out, was up against a wall. It couldn't get to the truth. It was misled. So that effort did not succeed as I had hoped it would succeed.
"On the 9th of July 1990 the Government announced the final termination of the National Security Management System and also drastically scaled down the role of the State Security Council. The management of covert operations was further reviewed after receipt of the Harms Commission's report. I appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Professor E Kahn to advise on the desirability of all secret projects and to recommend on the phasing out where possible of such projects. Part of his brief was to advise me of the adequacy of existing control measures".
And then I appointed a standing commission, the Goldstone Commission to investigate incidents of public violence. To do exactly what you are doing now. And you can go and read Mr Chairman, and other members of the Commission each and every report and each and every press statement made by Judge Goldstone. He never complained, as a matter of fact he always gave credit that never was a door closed to him, never was a request for additional logistical support refused. That he was given each and every opportunity to get at the truth.
And then there were some breakthroughs and this resulted in opening up, if there was - inasmuch as there is and was a can of worms with regard to members of the security forces on the State side, things, wrong things being done, that can of worms was originally opened in terms of a commission appointed by me. And your starting point in getting some leads were the very same witnesses, Cronje, Klopper and a few others which came to the fore in terms of the Goldstone Commission's activities.
Then I appointed General Pierre Steyn to investigate allegations, also as a result of something which happened where the Directorate for Covert Operations or something like that was the name, DKE in Afrikaans, was stumbled upon and certain things that they were doing, by the Goldstone Commission. I appointed General Steyn to investigate it, and on the basis of his briefing I took immediate steps to prevent continuation or possible continuation of what was alleged might have been happening there. I have even been criticised by the Commission of over-reacting.
So those are a number of things which were done. And then I deal in my second submission also with guidelines which have been laid down. I have listed the guidelines. And as far as the period under my predecessor is concerned, I accept that you no doubt also addressed these questions to him, he's in a much better position to reply thereto and I set that out in my, not that I'm shirking my duty but that would be best evidence for you and you would get the best information there.
So I would disagree with the conclusion that I haven't done enough, that I haven't taken reasonable steps. Once again with hindsight, with everything which is coming out, maybe I should have done more. I'm not saying I was perfect, but I, in all friendship, reject the insinuation that I was just sitting on my hands and fooling around while these allegations were made.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr de Klerk (Microphone is not on) ...that we take a break for lunch up to say about 2 o'clock and then we will continue.
CHAIRPERSON: Mr Goosen.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. Mr de Klerk, to get back to some matters dealt with prior to the lunch adjournment, you indicated that it may be logical to understand that a certain directive, or broad strategy or proposal policy for that matter which was authorised at say the State Security Council level, is conveyed down to the persons who are then responsible for implementing that policy, and as it gets down lower and lower to the level of the operatives who would implement the particular policy, that in those circumstances misinterpretations may occur and at that level certain abberations may then take place based on a misunderstanding of the original policy framework or directive that was formulated at the State Security Council level. You suggested that that might be a logical way of understanding the categorisation of actions or categorisation of responsibilities that you set out in your submission.
Assuming that that is correct for the moment, where the initial directive, I'm not now suggesting at the State Security Council level, we can come to that in a moment, but where the initial directive, the initial authorisation is illegal in character, and we've had a number of instances of that this morning, where at the higher level it is illegal and we've seen for example commissioners of police, minister of law and order being implicated, implicating themselves in some instances in such illegal directives, how is it possible in your view for such high office bearers to believe that it was right, acceptable, to issue illegal instructions, illegal directives?
MR DE KLERK: It is really not for me to try and interpret why individuals take a certain decision, just sort of on a basis of general assumption. But I think what is important is to see the context within which this conflict took place. I deal with that context fairly extensively from page 17 in my second submission, where I talked about what motivated people.
Firstly, one of the main motivating factors was the determination of many Whites and especially Afrikaners, to defend what they saw as their historic right to self-determination. So that was the political motivation from some. The National Party has moved away from that but it remains to this day the ideal of a significant portion or Afrikaners who support the Freedom Front, the Conservative Party and various rightwing organisations.
Now on that basis, as I understand it, General Viljoen says he planned sedition. In the first months of 1994 he planned a revolution of his own. Why? In his case, and people would have been killed in that, if they implemented that. Why in his case, he gave as his motivation that this self-determination was being given away.
Many others were motivated in what they did by the fact that the ANC, the revolutionary movements, had support of a world communist power which had expansionist goals in South Africa, which had surrogate forces in Angola. A net was spanning across the whole of Southern Africa. So it's not sort of McCarthyite paranoia. It was a fact that there was this strategy that directly or indirectly this world power would establish here in South Africa and in Southern Africa, a communist foothold and communist dominated government.
Others were motivated by the fact that they were fighting against forces which wanted to overthrow the state, which threatened the property and the life of ordinary citizens which were acting illegally. Now what then exacerbated it, and I'm not saying that is justification, if you ask me why, if we look just to the motive behind the motive, why would good church-going people suddenly do a thing like that?
Then one would have to analyse the nature of the conflict. They were fighting against revolutionary forces applying no rules whatsoever, planting bombs, doing the things they did, killing policemen just because they were policemen. I believe that was admitted yesterday in evidence by a senior minister of the ANC. They were open targets, so under such circumstances they just could not succeed. That I suppose is how some of their minds worked.
And this war then became an ugly war. It isn't a conventional war. In a conventional war you shoot and you bomb and you come with the airplanes and you send in the cannons. This is an ugly war, an underground war where the rules become blurred and where individuals, individual situations get into situations where, whether it's emotional stress, whether it's hatred, whether it's whatever, comes to the fore and makes people do things.
If we look at the Vietnam war, and analyse some of the atrocities which were committed by the American forces, why? The same question can be asked. And if you analyse all these wars across a broad spectrum, then it is an element which comes to the for from both sides. You've been listening for two days to admissions of the ANC in that regard. They had to admit that it was also in some instances their official policy. I think it would have pleased everybody if I said it was our official policy but I can't speak an untruth to satisfy the call for blood which there is. I can only speak the truth as I know it and the truth is, it wasn't such a policy, I never participated in such a policy, I was never involved in it, and I was never aware of such a policy.
MR GOOSEN: Would you consider that the senior members of the police and military, the sort of ranks and positions to which we've referred, that they may have regarded that the politicians, if you like, would have supported them in their efforts to conduct the ugly war that you refer to?
MR DE KLERK: I have definitely never created such an impression with anybody, especially when I was President and bore the final responsibility. I can't speak for such police officers. It's possible I think. I think some of them felt that it's actually been said to me by police officers in the past months and year or so, that they felt that they had to undertake initiative in that regard, and that they, on the rule to no basis felt that the best way to do so was to take their own initiatives and not to clear it, but that the broad policy was, go out and act firmly.
Now that is where the concept of reasonable interpretation comes.
MR GOOSEN: Alright I want to explore that and I certainly want to come to the issue of reasonable interpretation in due course.
The State Security Council at a meeting in February 1979, approved a set of guidelines for the conducting of operations in foreign countries. Those guidelines divided envisaged actions into different categories, planned operations, cross-border operations, hot pursuit, reconnaissance actions, clandestine operations. In respect of reconnaissance and clandestine operations, the document says that such actions would be difficult to justify in terms of international law, and in respect of clandestine operations the document indicates that the scope of these type of top secret operations are unlimited and the rules of international law make no provision for them.
Now the State Security council approved authorising bodies if you like, levels of authorisation for different categories. In respect of planned operations by the State Security Council. In respect of cross border operations, the head of the South African Defence Force. Reconnaissance actions, the head of the South African Defence Force. In respect of clandestine actions the State Security Council approved the following:
"As a result of the far reaching implications that can flow from these types of operations, they can only be authorised at the highest level and the planning and execution must take place on a need to know basis".
Now you were not present at that meeting?
MR DE KLERK: I wasn't on the State Security Council then.
MR GOOSEN: Absolutely, according to our records, the first State Security Council meeting which you attended was only on the 27th of August of 1979.
However, having served for a very long time subsequent to that on the State Security Council, are you able to give and indication to the Commission as to what would be meant by the "highest level", or "authorisation at the highest level"?
MR DE KLERK: Well let me firstly say I think what you've read out indicates that there were rules, there were parameters and there were controls installed.
Secondly, just on the basis of logical deduction and the general experience that you refer to, which I have, you must realise that the main item of clandestine operations would in all probability have referred to by-passing of sanctions, because sanctions were closing in at that stage and in the process of by-passing sanctions, laws of other countries were broken. We smuggled, we bought oil from oil smugglers who broke the sanctions and therefore it was extremely important, in order to ensure that those who assisted in the by-passing of sanctions in order to, what was the goal to ensure the economic survival of South Africa, would be properly protected and I would say that that was the main focus of that part.
The highest level, I think one would, depending upon the specific decision which needs to be taken, one would define it differently. Once again I think it would be generalised, maybe from the head of government, yes we will break oil sanctions. From the Minister, a policy framework, something like that. From the Director General, more specific filling in of such a policy framework which was agreed to.
So it will depend on the weight of the decision, how you would under such circumstances define the highest level, it wouldn't in all cases, to my mind, necessarily mean the President or whatever.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. Now the celebrated, if you like, but the Operation Marion documents which were made public in the trial and the State Security Council meeting of the 3rd of February of 1986, refer to the fact that the paramilitary support for Inkatha, which was referred to in those documents, which was an internal operation, had to be authorised at the highest level, the similar term used. At that stage you were already on the State Security Council, you in fact attended that meeting, would this same highest level that would be referred to in relation to that matter in any way bear any relation to the highest level that would be referred to in the earlier one in relation to clandestine operations to which we've referred?
MR DE KLERK: Not necessarily I think. I really can't give you a very informed opinion. My recollection of that was that as I can remember, a case was made out that Chief Minister Buthelezi's life was under threat, many of his leading figures had been targeted, there was need for well trained VIP protection to effectively ensure that the ANC would not succeed in strategies to assassinate, murder him and other leading figures, and that on that basis, permission was given for an operation which would entail the expenditure of funds to train such people to perform that duty. That is what I recall of it.
MR GOOSEN: And that by it's very nature was a clandestine or covert operation? It certainly was not made public that that support was being offered. Would from your understanding of the matter, would clandestine or covert operations generally then be authorised in that manner at the highest level?
MR DE KLERK: No, and let me give you an example. I referred in my first submission to, and there's also a reference in the second one, to the authorisation which I gave to move into the Transkei towards Umtata, that event which ended tragically in the death of a number of young people. On that occasion I asked, after I had been given the cross-checked information, and I was asked to authorise that they can cross the border into the Transkei, I asked, but why must I now authorise it, I mean this was extraordinary, this was the first time and almost the only time that I was asked to authorise something like that when I was President. And they said well the law prescribes it because it's cross- border. And I said, if you had reason to believe that inside South Africa, not in the Transkei, inside South Africa a similar set of circumstances existed, would I have been asked to authorise it? And they said no, then it would have been authorised at a lower level. That just gives you an indication of sort of when is it asked and when isn't it asked, that's a good example.
MR GOOSEN: Alright so it would depend on also the nature of the operation or the activity that is being authorised, that would be required at a higher level than other levels of authorisation?
MR DE KLERK: That's it, that's right.
MR GOOSEN: Now it's evident from military and State Security Council documentation that the South African state was strongly influenced by the principles of counter- revolutionary warfare and this much is also apparent from the principles which are enshrined in the very structure of the National Security Management system itself. Documents for example written by the SADF General Fraser and authors such as JJ MacKewan, were summarised and circulated amongst persons engaged in counter-revolutionary struggle.
Now counter-revolutionary warfare involved, amongst other things, it would appear from these documents, the annihilation of the insurgent while winning the hearts and minds of the population, and recognising the particular phase of the revolutionary struggle that one finds oneself in. Now General Fraser in a document which was a military document entitled, Lessons learned from Past Revolutionary Wars, stated that, whilst terror was counter-productive, in that it alienated the populace, he recognised that terrorism was a particularly appropriate weapon since it is aimed directly at the inhabitant. He stated that the use of force must be very carefully weighed up and that, to quote,
"The use of terrorism by government forces must be decided upon at the highest level, and it must also be so applied as to avoid it boomeranging."
Now the highest level that's referred to here and referred to in the instances I've quoted to you in relation to clandestine operations, would this be the same highest level that would be referred to in relation to these types of operations?
MR DE KLERK: Mr Chairman I have to point out that quietly Mr Goosen is using the documentation and quoting from the documentation which was sprung on me this morning and which I haven't had the time to study. He's just quoted from page 26, from page 25 thereof, his previous quotation came from 23 and 24, and I thought you made a ruling that if any questions emanate with regard to these documentation it should be given to me in writing and I should be given the opportunity to deal with that. That's the first point I want to make.
Secondly, just on glancing at this document now, it appears as if this is an academic article with sources given and everything, and the question gives the impression as if this is an official state document in somehow or another. So I really must object Mr Chairman to the way in which these documents are being dealt with.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Glen?
MR GOOSEN: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. Mr Chairperson let make it quite clear, the bundle of documents given to Mr de Klerk, he doesn't need to refer to the documents to answer to the questions in the first instance. In the second instance they are given to him so that he would have them available. I'm putting to him certain statements, certain positions in an endeavour to explore his understanding of how it is that clandestine operations and particular types of operations would be authorised by institutions of government, in particular State Security Council in this instance.
I can indicate to him and we can get into a debate about the particular documents if he wishes. But this particular document, Fraser's Lessons learned from Past Revolutionary Wars was circulated by the former President, circulated to all members of the State Security Council whilst Mr de Klerk served on that. But I don't want to get into that debate because I'm not in fact engaging with Mr de Klerk on the document. In fact your quotation of the page is wrong, I referred to page 27.
MR DE KLERK: I said 25 and 6.
MR GOOSEN: Yes. The quote actually appears at page 27. I'm not asking Mr de Klerk to address himself to the particular document. I'm putting a position to him and I'm asking him for a response to it. If he doesn't want to answer directly on the document, clearly he's entitled not to do so and he can respond at a later stage, but I also believe, given the nature of this hearing, that I would be entitled to put the question.
MR DE KLERK: Mr Chairman I must just also put on record that at least part of these documents have been issued to the press. I'm really deeply concerned in terms of normal rules of procedure and fairness that these documents have been dealt with in this way and I would like to officially record that.
As far as the general question of how do you define levels of decision-making is concerned, maybe it will enlighten the Commission if I explain that in terms of convention which has been applied for decades and which is still being applied also in the Government of National Unity to the best of my knowledge, essentially there are no specific rules as to what should be decided at which level except in cases where legislations specifically provide and say the Minister, or the President, convention then, where no such legislative prescriptions exist, convention dictates that it is essentially in a minister's discretion, when he wants to take something in order to establish collective ability, to the cabinet or to a cabinet committee or whatever, and when he wants to take the responsibility which he has on his own shoulders. The same applies then with regard to executive decisions of officials. In the end there is an unwritten law that a director general or a commissioner of police would take certain things to his minister and would do certain things on his own.
One of the important, let me use an example, when we come to budgeting, a minister never gets involved in all the details of budgeting, that is done below him and the highest level for certain budget decisions might be a chief director, might be a deputy director general, might be a director general. The minister is involved in the broader what goes to which programme, what is the policy, what gets precedence over what, what are the priorities within the department? The main budget for which the cabinet then has collective responsibility, deals with totals, big totals, so much for the Department of Education, so much for this department.
So with regards to many aspects once again, you can only determine what the highest level for a specific decision is by looking at the context of such a formulation, at the nature of the decision which has to be taken, is it an economic, financial budgetary decision, is it an operational decision, and in different instances you would get different conclusions as to what the appropriate highest level is under such circumstances.
CHAIRPERSON: Can I just... (microphone not switched on)...the status of that document, it was a document that they were going to be using and which would have become public as...(intervention)
MR GOOSEN: Mr Chairperson when I handed Mr de Klerk a bundle of the documents to which we referred, I also made available, is that the document that you're refer has been circulated to the press, the bundle of documents?
MR DE KLERK: Ja.
MR GOOSEN: Yes it's been made available to the press, at the same time that it was made available to you.
CHAIRPERSON: Because I think they were taking umbrage at the fact that it had been so publicised, distributed and now are saying it was going to become a public document.
MR GOOSEN: Yes Mr Chairperson the bundle of documents to which we're referring, is the one that Mr de Klerk has indicated that he's objected to certain passages of those being referred to by me. That bundle of documents, since this is a public inquiry, when we made it available to him at the outset of the questioning, when I got to that point we also made them available to the press.
MR DE KLERK: That is not the main problem, the main problem remains the fact that I am asked, without prior knowledge, without disclosure of the document in terms of general fair procedural rules, to sort of deal with documentation which I have not had the chance to study in depth and where I haven't been given prior notice what the purpose of the use of these documents ...(intervention)
CHAIRPERSON: No I thought, I mean there was an explanation that the nature of his questions doesn't actually require that you have a deep knowledge of the document, it's not directed at the contents of the document, it is talking about principles.
MR DE KLERK: It might also be argued Mr Chairman and I leave it at that, that it is, that somehow or another, use of documents which you have ruled should not be used is being made.
CHAIRPERSON: No. I said if he is going to ask you questions that are based on the document then I would rule that out and he has sought to explain that his questioning doesn't in fact require, I mean you can actually say, I'm not going to be able to answer that question until I have studied the document.
MR DE KLERK: But I have replied to every question so far but I thought it was necessary that we know that we are dealing again with the documentation and I'm asked to interpret wording read from a specific document that I haven't had the time to study.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, Glen.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Mr de Klerk, you are on record as stating that the third force discussed by the State Security Council at it's 12 May 1986 meeting related to nothing more than a suggested description for police crowd control. Now let me make it clear, I accept that the SAP at the time were looking to expand the riot or unrest control units and I also accept that no third force as a separate force, separate from the SAP and the SADF in the way in which it was discussed at the State Security Council, was set up. However, there is one aspect which emerges from the debate at the State Security Council about the establishment of the third force as it was conceived by the State Security Council at that time, and that is the establishment if you like of a special counter-revolutionary capacity.
Now in the discussion a document was tabled at the State Security Council compiled by Brigadier Ferreira and submitted on behalf of the South African Defence Force, that document for your information is in the bundle as well. In that document the position that is articulated by the SADF at that point is that in essence there's no need for the establishment of a third force because to a greater or lesser extent it already exists, that capacity already exists within the security forces. And in that regard, it is referred to existing within the army's counter-insurgency forces, the SADF Special Forces, the SADF's Directorate of Special Tasks, the SAP Security Branch, the police's counter-insurgency forces and SAP's special task force elements.
Now those components, from your understanding of the security forces and those components of the security forces, would you agree that those components don't have anything to do with crowd control?
MR DE KLERK: Up to that point and also later on use was made of police for crowd control and at times use was made of defence force soldiers for crowd control. Or defence force people would be brought in to relieve police of certain guarding duties or whatever, in order to set police free. The need for crowd control was to have a mobile force ready at call because a riot or something like that develops in a moment sometimes and this led to the, when this idea of a third separate overt force was rejected, this led to the establishment within the police of a special unit called the Internal Stability Unit.
MR GOOSEN: I accept that. And I also accept that certainly SADF forces, troops were utilised in support of police throughout the 1980's, but I think you'll agree with me that the SADF troops that were mobilised to provide that support, generally did not come from the specialised units, from Special Forces, from Directorate of Special Tasks, from the Counter Insurgency Forces that the South African Force had at its disposal? They would have utilised citizen force members by and large and that was one of the main controversies during the 80's the deployment of troops in the townships.
MR DE KLERK: Well on the counter-insurgency forces people who were trained, parabats and that type of thing, at a time if a specific unit was in South Africa, not on the border, it's possible that they might have been used but I would say generally speaking, the natural people to use for crowd control would be the citizen forces and that type of thing.
MR GOOSEN: Yes yes, and so generally speaking the location of the concept of a third force as a crowd control force, as you've indicated, it wouldn't be consonant with that notion to say that that capacity already exists within the arena of Directorate of Special Tasks, Special Forces, Counter- Insurgency Forces, and Special Task Force elements of both ...(intervention)
MR DE KLERK: Well I can't, I really can't with authority say what was included in the argument about counter- insurgency forces and how exactly at that stage, I think I was Minister of Education, how exactly at that stage the SADF had sort-of distributed responsibility and task, which units under which name for which task. If the question is driving towards the situation that it is read into that that this is actually an admission that already then, there formally already existed another third force, namely this underground third force and that the reference was to such an underground third force, I can honestly say there was never any mention of such a third force, there were constant denials when the word third force first came to the fore. It was part of Judge Goldstone's instructions to ascertain, is there such a third force. In consecutive reports of Judge Goldstone, he made specific statements that he has not found any evidence, notwithstanding his specific instruction to look for it, about the existence of such a third force. And I think in almost his very last report, when Kloppers and Cronje and those people started talking to him, he then in one report said, now he is beginning to believe that there might be such a third force.
Can I just in amplification of my reply read from page 38 of my second submission because I did not just say it's about crowd control. I said,
"Yes in 1985 and '86 the government did consider the possibility of establishing a third force, but never in the sense that the ANC and the media have attached to the term. The proposal was that a third paramilitary force, separate from the SADF and SAP should be created to deal specifically with unrest and counter-insurgency operations".
So the scope was not limited just to crowd control, the scope of the proposal, when this was formulated, it was based on those who advised me in this formulation, looking at the documentation again, I haven't refreshed my memory, but the scope also included counter-insurgency operations.
MR GOOSEN: Alright, no I accept that. In fact the end product of those deliberations was consideration of what became known as Option Four, and it's referred to in the documents. We don't have to go into them in detail at this point. Option Four of a list of possible options in a debate was adopted by the State Security Council at its meeting on the 12th of May 1986 and there it actually refers to the -
".....setting up of an instrument for planning, coordinating and carrying out of counter-revolutionary actions. Men who carry out actions remain members of their various departments but for the execution of their tasks they are under the command and orders of the head, counter- revolution".
There was then also, on that 12 May at that meeting further discussion of the issue, further decisions where the State Security Council indicates and tasks the defence minister and the minister of law and order at the time, Minister La Grange, with organising -
"... a well trained capacity to effectively wipe out terrorists, the mobility must be provided by the SADF and SAP, it must be prepared to be unpopular and even feared without damaging the image of the SADF and SAP. It must stand under very strong authority, and furthermore the security forces must work together to bring about the third force so that the underminers are dealt with using their own methods".
That is in fact contained in the State Security Council minute of 12 May 1986. It is in the bundle of documents for your later reference if you wish.
Now you indicate that it was not just for crowd control purposes and I accept that. Can we assume that the establishment of a third force for purposes of crowd control activities would presumably not have been the authorising of a crowd control unit for - to use methods of the revolutionaries in crowd control situations?
MR DE KLERK: Just rephrase the question, you talked a lot before you phrased ...(intervention)
MR GOOSEN: Sorry. You indicate that the notion of the third force was perceived as being for counter-insurgency activities as well as crowd control. You pointed that out in your second submission, I think paragraph, page 38 and 39 where you deal with that question. And it would appear that that much is clear from the State Security Council documentation. Now insofar as the third force was authorised for crowd control activities, presumably those crowd control activities would not be authorised on the basis of utilising the methods of the revolutionaries in crowd control situations. There's a passage in the document which refers to, "underminers are dealt with using their own methods".
MR DE KLERK: But where do I use the word crowd control in my submission?
MR GOOSEN: You indicate Sir that you, you've indicated, you accepted it when I said to you that your ...(intervention)
MR DE KLERK: But I have now refreshed my memory and I just see that I never used the word crowd control.
MR GOOSEN: You may not have used it there Sir, when I put it to you, you've indicated that it was in addition it also had a counter-insurgency role to play.
MR DE KLERK: To deal specifically with unrest and counter- insurgency. Surely a raucous crowd breaking through things is part of unrest?
MR GOOSEN: Yes I accept that and crowd control ...(intervention)
MR DE KLERK: It's a type of situation which resulted in many people being killed at Bisho.
MR GOOSEN: Absolutely, I accept that. Part of the function of the third force as conceived would have been to deal with unrest situations, not so, part of which is crowd control?
MR DE KLERK: Yes but what's the problem, the fact is such a third force was never approved.
MR GOOSEN: There's no problem, we're getting to that point. The question I asked is one can presume that in controlling unrest situations then, if you will, that you would not be authorising the body to exercise control over unrest by using the methods of the underminers themselves? They would be using standard policing methods to control crowds and control unrest.
MR DE KLERK: Yes obviously you would be using teargas and you would be using water cannons and so on and I know we went out of our way at certain meetings to make money available to improve our capacity to enable us to do riot control in a way which will not result in deaths or serious bodily harm to anybody.
MR GOOSEN: Yes, yes, but that Sir is the point. The point is that there was authorisation for use of a capacity, development of a capacity to deal with unrest situations. There was also authorisation for the development of a capacity to deal with the insurgency and deal with insurgents, the words are effectively, wipe out terrorists, and to deal with underminers by using their own methods. Now would you agree with me, that under the circumstances the State Security Council was in fact authorising and tasking the Ministers of Defence and Police to engage in counter-revolutionary actions which would not mar the image of the visible forces, but would hit back at revolutionary forces using their own methods, terror and fear?
MR DE KLERK: Let me just read, the only place where in your questions, I'm dealing with subject matter here that I've had before me. In question 4 under the heading, Questions on the SADF and Other Security Structures, you said,
"In 1986 the SSC established a subcommittee known as the Acronym of GVS, what was the purpose of this subcommittee?
Please furnish all details concerning it's decisions and activities. Please furnish all minutes of this committee. Who chaired the GVS, did this person have any other responsibilities?"
To that part of the question my reply was,
"The GVS was the Gesaamentlike Veiligheidstaf, was responsible for the coordination of the counter- revolutionary actions. I'm not in possession of its records and suggest that you approach the relevant authorities for the additional information that you require".
Then the next part of the question said,
"The CCSSC minutes dated 12 May 1986 read as follows:
The third force had to be operational in eliminating terrorism.
What is meant by the words uit te wis and please provide a definition of the term teroriste?"
And my reply to that part of the question was,
"The words uit te wis means to wipe out. In the context in which you quote the phrase it would probably mean the operational neutralisation of terrorist units. I suggest that you consult appropriate dictionaries and political lexicons for a definition of teroriste. The term relates to those who use terror against civilians as a means of promoting their agenda. This often includes the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets and the brutal intimidation and murder of political opponents to promote partisan objectives".
So against that definition, I just reiterate it was never the policy that the government should plant bombs, indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets and in cold blood murdering their political opponents.
MR GOOSEN You see Mr de Klerk we know that the State Security Council engaged in a debate, got input from various departments, considered various options in regard to the establishment of a third force. And you've indicated and I've indicated at the outset that I accept that no such third force was in fact established, third force in the sense of a uniformed legitimate separate arm of the security forces that can act independently of the SADF or the SAP and I accept that, and that much is clear from the documents.
What we do have though is in fact two decisions. Two decisions which are of critical importance which occur at the 12th of May 1986 meeting which bear no relation, no relation whatsoever to legitimate uniformed open policing to deal with unrest situations or crowd control situations which is the framework that is being put up as the explanation for the debate about the third force, and I would highlight those two for you again.
Paragraph E, decision of the State Security Council, 12 May 1986 and it reads Sir:
"A well trained capacity to effectively wipe out terrorists, the mobility must be provided by the SADF and SAP. It must be prepared to be unpopular and even feared without damaging the image of the SADF and SAP. It must stand under very strong authority".
"The security forces must work together to bring about the third force..."
here used in a broader context,
"...so that the underminers are dealt with using their own methods"
"Underminers using their own methods", Sir, wiping out terrorists, terrorists using their own methods, and I'm putting it to you Sir, that there was in fact a decision of the State Security Council to authorise the Ministers of police and defence to engage in counter revolutionary actions which would not mar the image of the visible forces but would hit back at revolutionary forces using their own methods, terror and fear.
Now at the outset, from this morning and over a number of hours, I put to you a number of specific examples of abuses. They included assassinations, bombings directed at civilian targets, targeted operations to maim and kill, to sow distrust amongst and fear among communities, long range cross border bombings and indiscriminate attacks on civilians. I repeatedly asked you for an explanation as to how very senior members of the police force, ranging from generals through to those immediately below them, as well as persons directly above them, commissioners of police as well as ministers of state, could have authorised and how they could have come to believe that they were authorised to engage in those actions. You could offer no real explanation, with respect, as to how that situation came to exist.
Such actions, I would put it to you, can be described as terrorist actions, terrorist attacks. Now the question is, are these operations are they not instances where members of the security forces engaged in actions in which the methods of terror authorised at the highest level, were applied against the so-called terrorists themselves?
MR DE KLERK: Mr Chairman let me firstly say I have never experienced before that meeting that is referred to, and of which I am referred, or after that meeting in the whole period that I served until I myself became President and thereafter I took charge, I've never experienced it that there was at any stage an acceptance that a policy has been accepted to achieve what Advocate Goosen is suggesting. There was never any reference after that meeting at any time of the two, the third force in any discussion that I can recall, except for this continued discussion on do we establish another overt force or not. There was never any reference that I can recall in any way whatsoever of our policy being using terrorist methods, yes firm action, yes, using and applying extraordinary measures, yes, going underground yes, spying yes, having covert actions, having a state of emergency, putting people in camps without trial. All that yes, but not murdering people, not assassination, it was never part of the policy.
And I have never understood and experienced also in my interaction with ministers, in references, in debates which were not minuted, any sort of feeling that this is our policy as you have now interpreted that and enunciated that.
MR GOOSEN: What we do know though from State Security Council documents is that Minister Vlok was in fact relieved of certain ministerial functions so that he could act full time as head of counter-revolution and take charge of counter-revolutionary actions from the level of the State Security Council.
MR GOOSEN: Well he would be the best man to call then to give you further details.
MR GOOSEN: Sir, you too sat on the State Security Council, in fact in your, in the many years that you served on the State Security Council, you attended more than 91% of all meetings.
MR DE KLERK: I'm a very consciousness man.
MR GOOSEN: That much is apparent, that much is apparent. In your initial submission Mr de Klerk you state that responsibility should be attributed to the State Security Council for all decisions which you took and the instructions that it issued including authorised actions and operations executed in terms of the reasonable interpretation of such instructions.
You further suggest that this principle should also apply to ministers and to individual commanders within the security forces.
Now we know from some of the documents of the State Security Council, and certainly from statements made by senior cabinet ministers, cabinet members and members of the National Party, that the strongest possible action against revolutionaries was advocated.
How would a direction from the State Security Council or Cabinet or the Party contained in phrases like "wipe out terrorists" and "using their own methods", be interpreted by the security force operatives to whom it was directed?
MR DE KLERK: The "using their own methods", I have just tried to bring across, I've never perceived it, I've never experienced that to be a policy. You are referring to one clause, I haven't studied the document, I haven't studied the next week's or the next fortnight's document to see whether there was any reference again, I'm not questioning the fact that you say it is in such a document, but I would like to just say in general and then please pose a question so that I can have a proper look at the documents for a follow-up reply to state in general that if that was the policy why would I have appointed the Harms Commission? If that was the policy why would I have appointed the Goldstone Commission? If that was the policy why would I have not protected Mitchell when he committed the murder if that was the policy? Why would a list of security force operators have been charged in court with doing what you say they were authorised to do in terms of a policy as you interpret it? MR GOOSEN: Thank you. Now certainly I'm going to put one further question around this and then move to another topic and I will come to the Harms Commission in a moment.
But in the context of an escalating conflict that had been defined by senior members of the security forces as assuming the character of a guerilla war, and in which as a result to use your own words, "the traditional distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate targets and acceptable and unacceptable methods of combatting resistance were increasingly blurred", would a reasonable member of the security forces responsible for combatting the revolutionary onslaught, resistance not interpret these statements to authorise killings and assassinations?
MR DE KLERK: You've just quoted from my submission. They were written in August 1996. It's not a quote, it's not, I didn't enunciate the policy, I tried to comply with the request of the Commission and that is to analyse in an intellectual and intelligent way, what contributed to the conflict of the past. Why did certain things happen. It was a genuine effort to analyse.
MR GOOSEN: I accept it and it's in fact a very valuable analysis. You raise the notion of how particular statements, particular policies and directives may be reasonably interpreted and the question, the essence of the question is, given your own statements, given your own characterisation of the state of the conflict as it was then, and given what we know about the directives and the attitudes that would have been expressed at the level of the State Security Council, at cabinet and by senior party members, how would a reasonable person interpret those directives, those statements? Would a reasonable person, member of the security forces who is enjoined to use the strongest possible methods to combat the revolution, not interpret what was being said to authorise killings and assassinations? And that's the question.
MR DE KLERK: As far as I know, not having been directly involved then, there were at all times general rules and guidelines. And the general rules and guidelines within my total experience of how the country was governed, also in the period when I was an ordinary minister, was that we were not above the law, that was the ethos of our approach and I could be happy in such an atmosphere because that was the philosophical approach which was adopted.
With regard to the continuing problem of allegations and the definite possibility of crimes being committed by the security forces, when I became President, one once again of the first things was, and you'll find this again on page 30 of my new submission, I then to put it beyond doubt, brought in certain very specific guidelines to clarify if there were then, in any way a misinterpretation of what was wanted of people and what guidelines should be adhered to, and I've set out on page 30 some of these guidelines. They include that no indemnity from criminal prosecution could be granted to anyone. They include proper auditing arrangements. They include that the political head and the officials involved in special projects accept full accountability for such actions with which they were involved. So inasmuch as there was a risk of misinterpretation, I went out of my way to try and clarify it and bring about and institute clearer guidelines in order to avoid just that.
MR GOOSEN: Mr de Klerk I ...(intervention)
MR DE KLERK: Can I just say that I can distinctly recall that Minister Kobie Coetzee has indicated that there were guidelines of this general nature in place, these were updated, these were refined, but there wasn't a void, there were such guidelines and within my whole experience as I say, the guidelines, the ethos was, we're not above the law, crimes are not allowed. And I think this also came across very clearly when Gen Malan gave testimony a week or so ago, where he said overall responsibility yes, but where a person committed a crime, then that person must accept responsibility for that crime, crime wasn't part of the authorisation.
So somewhere in your quest for the truth Mr Chairman, you'll have to, without rewriting maybe a number of text books, develop a clear picture as to what are the rules of war. Because the rules of war a different from the rules of a normal peaceful society. In war certain things are internationally accepted, this is what happens in war. While certain other things, even in a war remain unacceptable and fall outside what can be regarded as acceptable under such special circumstances. I'm not an expert on that, I'm a lawyer by training and I cannot give you expert advice, but I think you will have to look very carefully at this in order to put the matter into context. Because we must realise that all the atrocities and all the things which shock us all so much, which happened on the side of the security forces, didn't happen in a void. It happened in a war situation.
It happened in a situation where innocent civilians were being killed by bombs, where nobody felt safe to walk in a street or go into a Wimpy bar to have a coke.
It happened in a situation where at times attacks were made on public places where people gathered for their pleasure and relaxation.
It happened where people could no longer travel on a country road without the fear of being blown up by a limpet mine.
It happened in a situation where if you wear a uniform and you're a police person, whether you support apartheid or not, whether you're Black or White, whether you are doing a marvellous duty in protecting people in a neighbourhood, you're a target, you can be shot and you can be killed.
So the atrocities from all sides happened in a situation which we must come to understand. And the tragic thing is of this situation, is that from the other side, these activities were stepped up as we were moving towards reform. It reached its height in the last five years of the '80's, that is especially when the civilian targets came in, and that was when we've already decided separate development is gone. When we already have instituted a three chamber parliament, started to broaden democracy, that happened at the stage when already there was a willingness growing, we must negotiate. When the whole atmosphere was improving and it was stepped up at that stage, and there was a threat that the country could become ungovernable.
So what I'm getting at is, I'm not saying this to say that anybody can condone or say well, now I have sympathy for the man who committed an atrocious murder, no, but to say that the deeper task of the Commission is to get to that understanding so that when you prepare your report Mr Chairman, you and the members of the Commission, so that you can bring understanding to all the people of this country.
MR GOOSEN: Mr de Klerk, you make the point that I tried to make far more articulately than I could hope to. You see in the context in which you've just outlined, it's clear there is a revolutionary onslaught, it's clear that innocent persons are suffering, there is a perception of that conflict and there is the perception of that conflict on the part of the security forces. There is a concept, a notion of what the terrorists are doing and how they are doing it, and that much is very apparent to members of the security forces. It's also very apparent to members of the State Security Council, members of the National Party and the Cabinet what the revolutionary onslaught is about.
And precisely in that context, you indicate that it's responsibility, operations executed in terms of a reasonable interpretation of such instructions, I want to put it to you Mr de Klerk very simply, for a member of the security forces, a member of the security police, whose daily task involves him coming face to face with the terrorist that you describe, whose day to day activities exposes him to the methods that terrorists use, when that person is told, develop ways to effectively wipe out terrorists, use their own methods to do so, his reasonable interpretation, his reasonable interpretation Mr de Klerk, is to use the methods that he knows so well, to combat the terrorist.
In addition, to make a statement like that in that context, no reasonable person can possibly not foresee that a reasonable man would interpret such statements to mean, you can kill, you can assassinate, you can bomb, you can annihilate, and I put that to you.
MR DE KLERK: No I disagree with that, because firstly there was at all stages the basic ethos and approach that the law must be upheld, that the courts' independence must be upheld, that any criminal act must be followed up and prosecuted, and there are examples. Why if that was the attitude and the intention, why would these prosecutions have taken place? Then it would have been justified, then the law would have been made, we had an overwhelming majority in Parliament to indemnify such people who committed such people who committed murder, but that didn't happen, and we didn't use that power.
Secondly, let me on a more emotional level say, we, broken jugs as we are, that's not a correct translation for gebarste erdekruit, sinful people, I'm not playing holier than thou, but for us it was serious, it was a matter of great importance that this country is a country with an overwhelming majority of Christians, and where we as an ethos tried to adhere to Christian norms and principles, and in that sense of the word, it is unthinkable, my whole physical spiritual experience, it is unthinkable that anyone would callously say, because of this we relieve everybody of all moral and religious responsibility to act as Christians within the framework of the work of law.
That was the whole ethos under which I grew up and under which I served, firstly as an ordinary member of parliament, then as a member of cabinet, and that was the ethos also in the cabinet under my Presidency.
And therefore I reject the imputation that there was this sort of almost immoral, everything goes in a state of war, the end justifies the means. That was not the philosophy within which I lived, within which I operated and within which I served. And inasmuch as the philosophy that I'm propounding here, was transgressed, it's a tremendous pity, it is a dark blotch on our history, it is for that I've expressed the deep regret.
MR GOOSEN: The ethos of adherence to the law and due process and that persons will be prosecuted for offences may have existed in theory, but there are clear instances, and we can go back to them, we can talk about the Stanza Bopape case, we can talk about a number of other instances where the very guardians of that process, that ethos, were themselves involved in the undermining of that ethos.
MR DE KLERK: Absolutely, absolutely. But the ethos - can I give you a few comparative examples, the ethos of our profession, the legal profession, is that you are in a position of trust with regard to your clients, but that doesn't prevent now and then, an attorney from stealing from the trust fund.
The ethos of the Church is that the Church must give spiritual leadership and must be an example, but that doesn't prevent now and then a priest from having an affair and breaking his marriage vows.
So in each and every profession, whenever you bring together 500 people or 10,000 people or 250,000 people and charge them with something, there will be those who move beyond the rules.
But what is happening here, and what we should prevent, and what I think the Commission has a special task to prevent is to cast a whole spell of collective guilt upon 50% of our nation or 20% of our nation. That cannot be the foundation of reconciliation.
MR GOOSEN: Mr de Klerk, to move on from there. You were asked in the written questions supplied to you last year, whether you had attended any State Security Council meetings at which a list of politically sensitive people, as it was referred to, was discussed, and your written response was, "not to your knowledge".
MR DE KLERK: Which question was that? Could you just refer to the page of my reply.
MR GOOSEN: I will do so in a moment, I'll come back to it. It related to the question about the so-called list of politically sensitive people. I'll give you the page reference in a moment.
It does appear though that from the State Security Council minutes that we've subsequently been able to gain access to, they are in the bundle there, I'm not asking you for a specific comment in relation to those documents now, but it does in fact appear that you attended two State Security Council meetings at which steps against so-called politically sensitive persons were discussed, namely the meetings held on the 14th of July 1986 and on the 8th of September 1986. And the reference on the 8th of September is that the list of politically sensitive persons had to be shortened and methods other than detentions must also be considered.
Now I accept the fact that you may not be able to here and now refresh your memory as to that event and you may wish to respond in due course to the question, but the State Security Council documents don't contain the list in question and we've not been able to access it, and it's also silent as to what steps were envisaged in regard to that list of politically sensitive people. Would you be able to supply to supply the TRC with the list or to inform us who was on that list, or what your recollection is of that discussion and what steps were taken against those individuals and what were envisaged?
Now let me again immediately say this, I'm not asking you at this point to answer to that question, we've only just supplied you with those documents and you may wish to refresh your memory and consider that and reply to it at a later point.
MR DE KLERK: I would like to do so but I would like also to just generally reply, if you could just read me the exact quotation again, about the list which had to be shortened?
MR GOOSEN: It's at page 51 of the bundle that's been supplied to you. It's -
"...a list of politically sensitive persons had to be shortened and methods other than detentions must also be considered"
to that effect.
MR DE KLERK: Well can I just say that off-the-cuff I have a strong recollection that we didn't want to have so many people in detention, and that plans had to be made to sort of put people into normal society but somehow prevent them from becoming active in revolutionary activities again.
I remember one distinct issue, and this is with regard to Goniwe, the then Minister of Black Education, and the deputy minister was also involved was asked, and they came forth with a proposal that he could be placed again in a teaching post but in a different town than the town where he got into trouble and where the problems existed.
So off-the-cuff I would say that within this framework of my strong recollection, we were asking for strategies with regard to specific people to get them out of detention into a situation where they would have a better situation but where they would not get involved in revolutionary activities again.
MR GOOSEN: Alright, just two aspects in relation to that. I indicated I would refer you to your response. ..(intervention)
MR DE KLERK: Can I just say I don't have any documents, you have on this issue of minutes all the documents that I have I don't have special documents of that kind.
MR GOOSEN: Alright, the reference to where your response is in your submissions at page 38 of your second submission, question 1, where you indicate,
"Not to my knowledge, all intelligence service maintain profiles of people they suspect unlawful activities...."
and so on and so forth, you make the point there.
MR DE KLERK: Ja.
MR GOOSEN: The other point in relation to that which we state but leave there, is that in fact at an earlier meeting there were discussions of a list of people in respect of actions which may be taken regarding detention and restriction of those people. So it appears that this list was something other than detention and restriction.
I don't have much further to go, you'll be pleased to know.
In South Africa in the periods from 1990 through to 1993, and you've spoken of this in great detail, apparent hit squad activity increased dramatically. We know of approximately 300 people who were killed in train attacks in that period. There were some 50 massacres in which ten or more people died. Violence was the pattern at an unprecedented level in our society. Human rights groups and lawyers were exasperated at the failure of the State to apparently take the most basic steps to curtail the violence, which would have included arrest and prosecution of perpetrators, political figures and elements within the security forces, clamping down on use of all types of weapons and so on.
When lawyers threatened to take legal steps against the police for failing to enforce the applicable laws relating to the prohibition on the bearing of dangerous weapons, carried at that point almost exclusively by IFP supporters, you took the extraordinary step, Mr de Klerk, of amending the law in question to permit the carrying of dangerous weapons in accordance with Zulu usages, customs and religions. In setting aside your amendment, Mr Justice Didcott in the Natal Supreme stated as follows,
"It is a notorious fact, a fact which every Judge of this division knows full well from his work in criminal cases, that Black people of Natal have been exposed during the past four years or thereabouts to internecine violence on a scale far exceeding anything else experienced by them in modern times, and that they have suffered atrociously as a result. One finds it hard to understand why in a state of affairs so parlous the exemptions from the prohibitions against carrying dangerous weapons were enlarged, why the prohibition itself was accordingly reduced".
Would you have any comment to make about that situation?
MR DE KLERK: The issue of the carrying of dangerous weapons was a very politically sensitive issue, it was an issue which was placed on the table by especially Chief Minister Buthelezi who was up in arms against the idea that we should infringe upon what was described to us as a very fundamental cultural right and convention of the Zulu people.
I took the step to appoint a small advisory committee, I can't recall all of the names who served on it, but one of the persons who served on it was Professor, I think, Harriet Ngubane of the University of Cape Town. If I recall correctly, we were advised that it is indeed true that at certain occasions it is a deep-rooted custom that traditional weapons should be allowed.
Furthermore, I have not refreshed my memory, the legislation that you refer to, to the best of my knowledge, were very restricted, it excluded certain types of weapons and if I remember correctly, it defined or endeavoured to define what a cultural gathering is. In that sense of the word, I can't recall having been part of legislation which made carrying of such dangerous weapons freely available to everybody under normal day-to-day circumstances.
So all the necessary precautions were taken to ensure that on the one hand we don't offend the feelings of a very important cultural group in our country and that we don't inhibit them to practise such cultural conventions. On the other hand to make that possible for them in a framework which was sensitive towards the security needs of the country at that stage.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. Earlier Mr de Klerk you referred to the Harms Commission. You instructed Mr Tim McNally, Attorney General of the Orange Free State in late 1989 to conduct an investigation into allegations made by three former security police officers, Coetzee, Nofomela and Nchikalanga. They claimed that they had been involved in a death squad based at Vlakplaas. The McNally Report which was not made public until November 1990 concluded that there had been no truth to these allegations. Notwithstanding Mr McNally's finding you appointed him as counsel to the Harms Commission. Were you satisfied with the findings made by Mr McNally at that point? The inquiry that he had conducted?
MR DE KLERK: Why would we then have appointed, it was clearly still inconclusive, otherwise the Harms Commission would not have been appointed. I'm once again deducting, I haven't refreshed my memory by looking at any documentation, but the Harms Commission was appointed as a continuation of our efforts to get to the truth about allegations of security force irregularities and misdeeds and crimes.
MR GOOSEN: Under the circumstances then, why did you appoint Mr McNally as counsel to the Harms Commission in the light of the fact that he had, in his report at least, apparently prejudged the issues in relation to Vlakplaas at that point?
MR DE KLERK: Well I appointed, firstly I can't recall that I specifically appointed, I can recall that the Minister of Justice in a Cabinet meeting dealt with the various possibilities and motivated why McNally should do it. I at all times had and still have the highest respect for Advocate McNally and I think it is unfortunate that he has been made the brunt of political pressure. There were instances, fairly recently, where he was put under tremendous pressure in a parliamentary committee, that was before the Malan trial, notwithstanding that fact, Minister Dullah Omar and the President, President Mandela entrusted the Malan trial to him.
MR GOOSEN: During the late 1980's and the early 1990's, the nationalist government, Nationalist Party publicly accused the United Democratic Front and the ANC of being the primary cause of violence in KwaZulu Natal through their policy of attacking governmental structures and making the townships ungovernable. It appears however that the State Security Council had been in possession of reliable information since 1985 or thereabouts or shortly thereafter, that the Inkatha Central Committee had taken a decision during that year to foment violence in and endeavour to prevent the expansion of the UDF. This is evident from the State Security Council document dealing with the unrest situation in Natal which was produced during March 1989. The document was referred to at a State Security Council meeting on the second of May of 1989. And that information, the information about the decision of the Inkatha Central Committee was never made public.
In essence, a portion of the document would read that during 1985, and this is a translation,
"During 1985 the express mutual hostility and mistrust between Inkatha and UDF became a visible reality when Inkatha realised that the UDF represented a threat to its power monopoly in KwaZulu, and decided at a central committee meeting of Inkatha that the whole of KwaZulu and Natal be turned into a sort of no-go area for the UDF regardless of the consequences".
Would you be able to offer some comment as to why that crucial information was not made public by the government in its description of the state of affairs in KwaZulu Natal at the time?
MR DE KLERK: I really can't recall that report, I would like to refresh my memory looking at documents, but once again let me just state what the general pattern was and still is, is that security information was evaluated and then from time to time at meetings as still happens in the Government of National Unity, a report is presented sort of as a general information background and that then there would be opportunities to ask questions and that would then be referred to the operational departments to deal further with it.
Inasmuch as organisations like the UDF were operating within the law, they had their rights and to the best of my knowledge, they were subject to legislation with regard to when they can hold meetings, when they can hold marches, they must apply, but they were given the normal rights and I can't recall that, let me put it like this - There's no question that, yes we were against the UDF, the UDF was one of the fronts of the ANC, the UDF was an instrument and part of the strategy to make the country ungovernable, so I'm not saying that we were sympathetic in any way whatsoever to the UDF, and we would be supportive of a strategy, within the law, which would make the task of the UDF difficult which would frustrate them in achieving their goals. And in that sense of the word, if Inkatha was against the UDF, they were in principle on the same side as we were because we thought the UDF was dangerous because it was linked to the ANC, because there was a strategy to make the country ungovernable and to bring our economy to an end.
I think it's very important, if we talk about the violence in KwaZulu Natal, Mr Chairman that a very deep study should be made of the Goldstone Reports in this regard, because Judge Goldstone and his team really spent a lot of energy and dedicated a lot of their logistical capacity to deal with the violence in KwaZulu Natal and you would find there some very very important findings on the side of Judge Goldstone when he investigated these matters at the stage when the facts were much fresher in everybody's mind.
MR GOOSEN: Mr de Klerk by way of conclusion from my side, I'm sure that there are questions that the panel may wish to address to you as well, certainly indicated that they would want some time that I should leave to them, the evidence that has been collected thus far by the TRC, whether by way of human rights violations statements, I indicated the torture instances to you earlier, or by way of the amnesty provisions, amnesty applications that have been submitted, that evidence indicates that hundreds of incidents of serious criminal activity, authorised at the highest level of the security forces were perpetrated by members of the security forces.
That systematic human rights abuse in the form of numerous and repeated instances of torture were the order of the day.
That there is substantial evidence of systematic coverups authorised at the highest level.
That there are indicators that at the level of the State Security Council and at the level of broad policy directives, directives were issued, which reasonably interpreted and reasonably acted upon constituted authorisation for the commission of unlawful activities.
In the light of this, would you still argue that unlawful activity was only the work of a handful of individuals or operatives?
Would it not be more accurate to state that the National Party government presided over a period of systematic State-sanctioned criminal activity during the period which falls within the TRC's mandate?
MR DE KLERK: I reject that last formulation with every fibre of energy which I have. There was never State-sanctioned criminality aimed at serious violations of human rights such as murder, assassination and that which forms the subject matter of your investigations.
Secondly, I think I should refer to page 4 of my second submission, my replies, where I call upon the TRC, I would like to highlight this Mr Chairman, that the TRC should prepare an analysis that will,
(a), indicate the scale of the conflict that occurred in South Africa compared with the conflict that has been experienced by other transitional societies and;
(b), provide an assessment of the total number of South Africans who died during the political conflict;
who died or were seriously injured as a result of security force action;
who died or who were tortured or were seriously injured as a result of illegal operations of the security forces; who died as a result of the actions of the armed wings of the ANC, the PAC and other guerilla organisations;
who were killed by the ANC, the UDF, the Mass Democratic Movement, the Civics and other organisations because they were associated with or supportive of the former government;
who were seriously injured or whose homes and properties were destroyed in the course of intimidation campaigns carried out by the ANC, the UDF, the Mass Democratic Movement, the Civics and other organisations; and, who died or were seriously injured or had their homes destroyed in the conflict in KwaZulu Natal, including an indication of the number of ANC, IFP and non-aligned victims. It is the essence of the Commission's task to determine in an even-handed fashion who was responsible for these deaths and gross violations.
This is done, this is asked Mr Chairman and suggested because we think that only with that total picture can one achieve overall perspective to the events that occurred during our conflict. The comparative study, because without minimising it in any way whatsoever South Africa has to be thankful that there weren't ten times as many deaths. It could have happened so easily. And I think it's very important, in order to get a proper perspective, to know and to also quantify, what happened from which side.
In the final analysis Mr Chairman I want to know the truth as much as anybody else, but I reject the insinuation that there was a clandestine, quiet position of the National Party, of the National Party government which said - anything goes. It simply isn't true. I was never part of it and I never experienced it that I was asked by anybody else to be part of it.
MR GOOSEN: Thank you. Mr de Klerk, just finally, I'm finished with the questions, questions that I have been putting to you formulated, I have captured them in a document you indicated you might well want an opportunity to respond to certain questions on reflection, so I would simply indicate to you that I would make available to you the notes on which I have based my questioning during the course of the day. There are one or two categories of questions set out in the document which I didn't canvass with you orally, some of them may relate to coverups. I've dealt with part of that.
Others would relate to questions around some destabilisation actions which may have been contemplated in relation to neighbouring states as well as to support for guerilla or terrorist organisations inside and outside of the country. The questions are fairly clear from the document. You may wish to respond to them in due course. Thank you.
MR DE KLERK: Can I just make sure, having been given a second document now and I thank you for it, which I haven't had insight into, are the questions clearly put, or will I have to deduct what question you would have asked? In other words is there a heading to say against this background this is the question, will I exactly be able to discern what you want to do?
MR GOOSEN: I certainly hope so. If I am not that articulate on paper please give me a call.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Are there any further questions from the panel? Yasmin Sooka.
MS SOOKA: Mr de Klerk earlier in your testimony this morning you mentioned the name - you said that you had called four generals when you asked questions about Vlakplaas, what were the names of those generals please?
MR DE KLERK: I mentioned the one and I don't have the permission of the others to disclose that I had discussions with them.
MS SOOKA: Why not Mr de Klerk?
MR DE KLERK: Well I didn't ask them for permission. I asked them because I wanted to satisfy myself and on a one-on-one basis they gave me this assurance. I will canvass it with them whether I can disclose their names and if they allow me to I will let you have it.
MS SOOKA: I have a second question. I think that our advocate has put very eloquently a proposition to you about State-sanctioned criminality and you of course have said you refute that with everything that you believe in, but I want to explore with you, what do you expect us to believe when you have a Minister applying for amnesty, you have a number of high-ranking officers who are applying for amnesty for their own involvement in the deaths of a number of victims, what are we expected to believe?
How do we account for the fact - were you out of control at the time when you were head of government?
I really wold like to understand you but I find it very, very difficult when most of the people who come to us say that they did all these acts in the furtherance of the National Party policy.
You of course have very eloquently described for us differences in interpretation, where people were bona fide, where they were mala fide, where they were totally unauthorised. I think the difficulty we sit with is given the fact that you were the head of government, you sat as Minister of Education in the State Security Council, how could you not have been party to all of these dastardly acts that were committed? I really would like to understand you on this issue.
MR DE KLERK: Can I just begin by saying that an analysis of political and politically-related killings, since the election, under the presidency of President Nelson Mandela will show that it didn't stop. It didn't stop in KwaZulu Natal. We all know it. Members of the security forces are still involved according to newspaper reports in that. I am not blaming President Mandela and saying because members of the security forces are involved and because it's a fact and it's coming to light that these killings continue that he's to blame. That he should know everything.
The test is not whether things go wrong, in a department, in a civil service, in a security force, in a company, in a church, the test is whether there are, firstly, reasonable guidelines, rules, regulations and control measures in place. I had them in place all the time.
The second test is, if there is transgression is it covered up or are there efforts, sincere effective efforts to find a culprit. I didn't cover up, I took those steps and I've listed them for you.
The third test is, if then people are found guilty are they acted against? On that my track record is clean and I dealt with that this morning.
So it's a fallacy to say that if things go wrong that means that somebody is not in charge. Yes, if things get out of hand, if nothing is done, if leaders sit on their hands and don't do anything, yes, you can make that accusation, but I've listed what I've done and what my government has done in that regard to deal with this.
The very fact that the killings continue after the liberation of all South Africans, after we have instituted the full democracy, shows you how strong the undercurrent is, how deep the divisions are; how deeply hidden some of the activities were and continue to be.
It is on that basis that I, with respect, reject the insinuation that I was not in charge. I took numerous steps to ensure that the situation which was very volatile was kept under control and continuously brought more and more under control.
MR POTGIETER: Thank you Chairperson. Mr de Klerk can I just come back to the discussion which Advocate Goosen drew your attention to at this State Security Council meeting in May of 1986, 12th of May 1986 where on the face of it, on the face of the minute, which as he has indicated is in the bundle of documents that was handed to you and which I have in front of me here and which I have looked at, on the face of it quite clear, the wording is quite clear, and he has dealt with that, he has referred you to the wording, he's used the translation, the English translation, the original minute is in Afrikaans and the wording is quite clear. It refers to, for example,
"The Third Force had to be operational with a fully trained effect of eliminating terrorists".
It also says that,
"These security forces have to work effectively in eliminating the terrorists within their own methods".
He has dealt with that, yes. I'm just referring to the original text. Now to me that kind of terminology is very clear.
You were in attendance, it appears from this minute that you were not strictly speaking supposed to have been, or you haven't strictly formed part of the structure at that stage. Your attendance is under the heading, "in attendance", somebody who is probably brought in just for purposes of that meeting, because you were then the Minister of National Education, and you were not - it doesn't appear from this document that you were really into the security part of the government at that stage. Now when this was put to you, you emphatically again referred to the absence of any policy of killing etc, criminality. You've also appealed to your christian view and so on and so forth on this ...(intervention)
MR DE KLERK: Not just mine.
MR POTGIETER: But that's the point I want to come to you see. What you are telling us today, was that the majority view in this town or is it simply your personal situation that you - your personal conviction, your personal interpretation, your personal view about government policy that you are relaying to us? Because you seemed to be just in attendance really and the wording here is very clear.
MR DE KLERK: Firstly, this seems to be, once again I am looking at a document which has been given to me here now. This seems to be, if I skim through it, a recording of what people said, not a decision, not a minute, in the sense of this is a decision, after a debate the following decision is taken that this will now be the position. I am just speaking off the cuff now.
By now you, I think, well I don't like to talk about myself, but by now I think you would have at least come to the conclusion that I listen to things carefully. I can just say that I can't recall exactly what was said by whom and who were where on the, what was the date, the 12th of August 12 years ago. I don't have a photographic memory. But what I do know is if that, if that, as it's been put by Advocate Goosen, became official policy it would have surfaced again and again. I would have known about it. If it slipped me by at this meeting it would have recurred. It would have been referred to, but I have never experienced at any stage that I was part of any decision. I have never felt uncomfortable about a broad policy decision which would authorise the wilful killing and assassination and murder of people. If I was there on that occasion then - and if your interpretation that this might have been a decision to authorise officially such a policy, I would have understood it and I wouldn't have stood for it. I wouldn't have complied for it. I have never been fearful, not of P W Botha or anybody, to put my view forward. I haven't been a "Ja-broer" in any cabinet and in any position where I served.
I am telling this Commission and the country that I have not been part of a decision which I experienced that here is a decision which authorised that. I could not live with such a decision.
So on what I can remember and on my whole experience of my whole participation in government I stand by what I say before you and before God, that I was not part of such a policy.
MR POTGIETER: We accept that, we hear you in that regard. You have made the point. I am simply just trying to explore this. I know that this document was just presented to you and to me as well, and I am trying to make the most of the opportunity that we have got to look into this, and I have put my question against that background because it's a minute, it obviously doesn't record everything that has been said. It doesn't record you, for example, noting your objection to this line of discussion and so forth. It seems as if it is a noting of the sort-of ...(intervention)
MR DE KLERK: Viewpoints....
MR POTGIETER: ...general viewpoint that's expressed. In fact the first paragraph refers to the Chairman or the second one, (b) refers to the Chairman,
"The Chairperson says that the prescribed Third Force...."
and so on and so on, so it quotes the Chairperson, and that's former President P W Botha, as sort-of almost adopting a positive line towards this discussion, because he seems to be approving, but he just says look it must be outside these two existing forces.
So it seems as if this is, this, what is recorded here, seems to be the effect of the discussion. So "uitewis" and "gebruik hulle selfde metodes" that seems to be recording the effect, the crux of the discussion. And that is why I have asked you whether there wasn't a majority view in this particular instance and perhaps a dissenting view, although it's not recorded. And it's against that background that I've raised it.
MR DE KLERK: Well just looking quickly at the document the fact is the decision was to follow Option 4, whatever that might have been because I don't have the document, I think you might have it and it might be part of the rest of this, but the decision was not to approve all that, the decision was to follow Option 4.
MR POTGIETER: Fair enough. The alarming thing, and that's all that I am trying to focus on, the alarming thing is that that seemed to have been the effect of this discussion in this meeting comprising of the President of the country, senior cabinet members and so on, that seemed to have been the effect of ...(intervention)
MR DE KLERK: I really think I've taken the matter as far as I can on this issue and we'll come back on that.
MR POTGIETER: No fair enough. Then perhaps just in conclusion, with your permission Chairperson, perhaps just briefly, this is a debate that is also before us at this stage, you have conceded quite unequivocally that apartheid was wrong, you have highlighted the evil that flowed from the policy. Now we've got this debate in front of us and I'll put it to you for your comment, given your concession that apartheid was wrong can one equate the fight against apartheid, morally speaking, with the fight to maintain apartheid?
Apart from the incidents, I know you've answered to some extent in your second submission and you've said one must look at specific incidents to see whether a particular person has been supporting apartheid or not but apart from that, a general question, just generally.
MR DE KLERK: Yes, but I think it's important that we do highlight what I said in my written reply as well. I said that you asked whether one can legitimately equate the struggle against apartheid with the struggle to defend it. You see in that question lies a fallacy, and that is it pre-supposes that all actions against the revolutionary forces were in defence of apartheid. And it presupposes that all the actions of the revolutionary forces were in their fight against apartheid, and in both instances the supposition is wrong. And I've dealt at length with the many motivations why people fought against the revolutionary forces while they were also against apartheid. Surely nobody can accuse, nobody can accuse any Black man or any Coloured or any Indian in the old South Africa of having been for apartheid. But nonetheless the revolutionary forces had tremendous opposition and they were rejected by millions of Black South Africans, why? Because their methods were despicable in the eyes of those Black South Africans, because those Black South Africans were anti-communist, they had various motivations. So against whom did the revolutionary forces fight? They fought against pro-apartheid and anti-apartheid people with equal vigour. That accounts for many, many deaths. Because they fought to grasp all the power and they demonised fellow Black South Africans because they preferred the peaceful route. Because they preferred the road of negotiation, while rejecting independence because they said we'll work within the system to change the system.
I come from a people who chose the same route of working in the system and rejected the rebellion in 1914 and the terrorist efforts and methods of the Ossewa Brandwag. So it's a fallacy, it's a fallacy to typify the conflict of the past as just a conflict between the proponents of apartheid and the opponents of apartheid. That is the first fundamental point, I think, which we must take.
And then I said,
"The answer to your question accordingly depends entirely on the circumstances involved. A Black policeman going about his duty protecting the lives and property of his neighbours undoubtedly had a more moral cause than the activists who burned him and many like him to death by tying a tyre to his neck with barbed wire, filling it with petrol and setting him on fire. Civic organisations demonstrating peacefully in support of their rights undoubtedly had a more moral cause than elements in the security forces who committed brutal crimes to suppress them. Those advocating peaceful change and promoting democratic reform within the government were, in my opinion, morally superior to members of the South African Communist Party who were plotting to impose a socialist dictatorship through armed insurrection in South Africa".
So it's a complex question. I think all sides carry moral blame.
And we strongly resisted, we would not have voted for the bill which instituted this Commission if Minister Omar did not step down from his original assistance that double norms should be written into this. So it is not by chance that, in my interpretation, the Commission is, with all due respect Mr Chairman, charged with applying one norm and not in any way double standards at any time. That is how I interpret your .....
MR POTGIETER: Can I just with the Chairperson's permission, just put it together. Of course insofar as amnesty is concerned, insofar as that process is concerned there is no question about drawing moral distinctions at all, but insofar as the rest of our mandate is concerned it's quite conceivable that we might very well have to decide this question of the morality. And I know, I've read your response, I know that you are arguing that this is a complex matter and one should look at all these issues, but what I am really asking you is a very simple question actually and I'm putting it to you in that sort of context. You concede it's wrong and I'm asking you, if you defend what is wrong and you've got another side that fights that which is wrong, can you equate them morally?
MR DE KLERK: No ...(intervention)
MR POTGIETER: It's that scenario.
MR DE KLERK: No, but communism is also wrong. And revolution, if there is another way, is also wrong. Elsewhere in my replies I've dealt with, in reply to a question, what else could they have done? And I pointed out that in India everybody got their liberation without a revolution. And I could keep you busy for a long time about doors which have been opened which could result in a peaceful resolution which the ANC slammed shut and didn't want to walk through. We argued that instead of murdering in terms of a policy, councillors who said we would make ourselves available for municipalities, if the ANC and the UDF and those said let's put up our candidates and create a tremendous strong power base in a democratic way, that the whole change in South Africa could have been sooner and it could have been with much less bloodshed.
Furthermore, in looking at morality I would urge the Commission also to look at it in phases. Because surely there were phases when the main cause was the existence of apartheid, but the last phase of the violence was when it was already clear and then it was when the violence was stepped up, it was already clear that apartheid is dead. That apartheid has been relinquished as a policy. That imminent now, is one man one vote for each and every South African with removal of all forms of discrimination and then there burst loose on this country a wave of violence from the revolutionary force sides which killed many, many people. So in analysing moral blame I think also one needs also needs to look at it in timeframes.
MR POTGIETER: Thank you Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Yes Richard.
MR LYSTER: Thank you Mr Chair. Mr de Klerk earlier on when you were asked a question about Operation Marion you described it, as far as you knew, to be a request for a VIP protection unit for Minister Buthelezi, that's how you described it. Now you would have known that, and I'm not quite sure why you didn't mention this, but you would have known that in fact it was a request for more than just a VIP protection unit for Minister Buthelezi, that it was a request for a VIP protection unit for a contra-mobilisation unit, which is another word for a propaganda unit, it was request for a defensive unit and importantly it was a request for an offensive unit. I presume you knew that?
MR DE KLERK: I can't really recall any specific details. I haven't had a look at that document since I don't know when it served before the State Security Council, I've never seen it again, I just gave you my general recollection that that was the essence, the life of Buthelezi and others were threatened and they were empowered to safeguard their lives and to safeguard their positions.
MR LYSTER: Well in fact it wasn't just a request for a VIP unit, it was a request for those other three things.
MR DE KLERK: I accept it.
MR LYSTER: And with regard to the issue of the offensive unit there was a document which was seized by the South African police some years ago, the document was taken from the SADF's Directorate of Special Tasks and the document had been sent in October 1988 by the then Chief of Staff Intelligence, Vice Admiral Putte to Minister Malan, and the extract from the document, which is in your bundle, reads as follows:
"Offensive action is part of Marion's tasks. It is not out of the question that Chief of Staff, Intelligence, and the officers involved in Operation Marion, on account of being implicated in the planning may be charged with offences carrying the death penalty. The assurance is, therefore, sought for such officers to enjoy the protection of Section 103 of the Defence Act if they are charged".
You may know that Section 103 of the Defence Act is one which gives indemnity for acts committed.
Now you may also recall that in the trial of Minister Malan and others the Judge found that the people who killed the 13 people in Kwamakutha were trainees who were trained by the Defence Force in the Caprivi Strip and that they were part of the so-called offensive group. He didn't convict those people because there was not sufficient or proper identification of the people at the site. But the Judge confirmed that the people who carried out the Kwamakutha killings of the 13 people were Caprivi trainees. Now in the light of this, in the light of that extract from the message from Admiral Putte to Minister Malan, how are we to understand your statement that you are satisfied that the National Party government never did anything which could be construed as an order to kill people or to commit unlawful acts?
MR DE KLERK: I never said that there were never orders to kill people in the sense. Obviously if you send people into a battle they go there to kill and to be killed. In a typical war situation the essence of what is taking place is killing is taking place. That is to be distinguished from murder and assassination and the killing under circumstances which constitutes a crime, and that is where the distinction lies between whether it is a crime or not.
Obviously, obviously when a commander sends his troop in to do something which is a typical war-like situation everybody knows that people will be killed in all probability. And when the police send somebody in to relieve hostages they go in with authority if necessary using the minimum of violence, obviously to kill within the framework of the law under circumstances which would not constitute a crime.
What I am saying it was not the policy to allow murder, assassination, the ordering the death of people or saying it would be acceptable under any circumstances where it will constitute a crime. That is, I think, a very important distinction to make.
As far as Marion is concerned, I haven't made a detailed study of the court case, but to the best of my knowledge there was an effort to also say that because of the reasons and the wordings used and the nature of the training that establishes a sufficient causal connection to say that those who trained them and that those who instructed the training by implication on the basis of dolus eventualis could be found guilty because they should have foreseen that having trained such people in such skills they would kill people. And I think there was a decision on that that there wasn't sufficient causal connection. But I am not sure, I haven't read the judgment itself, that was an impression I picked up from the papers.
I really think on the Marion case, if the Commission is interested and not prepared to accept the Court's decision, that you should get the role players and discuss it with them.
Can I make a last comment. The people who protected me when I was President, and the people who protect President Mandela today, are trained very comprehensively. In this modern world of ours where assassination and that sort of thing is the order of the day VIP protection doesn't mean just to train somebody how to walk in front of somebody else and what to look for. People who protect VIP's across this world are trained also to go on the offensive. It's an inherent part of the training of all VIP protectors, because defence often must result in offence, to prevent something.
MR LYSTER: Mr de Klerk, I don't want to debate this case now, but the people who took part in the Kwamakutha killing were not members of the VIP unit they were members of the offensive unit and they were not involved in a war situation as you earlier described, they attacked a house and they killed 13 people most of whom were women and children.
MR DE KLERK: And therefore they were guilty of a heinous crime. I am not defending them. I would like to remind you, this is the type of murder where I would not like to have seen if I had my way that similar circumstances should qualify for amnesty and I explained why the law has been changed under pressure from the ANC so that amnesty is now available, and however difficult it is, it was difficult for me to sign some releases when I was President. It will be difficult for you but the law says that those people are entitled and you will have to grant them that.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Glenda.
MS WILDSCHUT: It's been a long day Mr de Klerk.
MR DE KLERK: I am used to long days.
MS WILDSCHUT: Yes. Tough questions, but there are tough questions that are asked of us as well by victims, people who are mothers, people who are wives, innocent children and they ask us very tough questions. I would like to ask you one or two of the questions that they asked us.
First with regard to activities in other countries, you admit that the South African government provided military and other assistance to so-called anti-marxist organisations in the neighbouring states, in particular to UNITA and to RENAMO. We have heard also of the State Security Council minute which states that,
"The pot of internal conflict in Zimbabwe must be kept on the boil. South Africa's role in fomenting civil war in its neighbouring states caused large-scale and prolonged bloodletting and devastation in the region".
My question is, what responsibility do you feel you should take for the devastation and suffering still being experienced as a result of this? What do you suggest South Africa should now do in respect of assisting its neighbours to re-build?
MR DE KLERK: Well firstly I am all in favour of assistance towards all our neighbours to rebuild. Not all their problems can obviously be traced to the subject matter of your question. It can be generally traced to ill-conceived policies which were followed. Policies which resulted in the destruction of their economies, and which resulted in high unemployment. But I am not, by saying that, saying that surely yes, certain steps which have been taken must have also had a negative effect there.
Since we returned to the international community in the last years of my presidency and in my participation in the GNU and now in my participation in Parliament I am all in favour of South Africa, within the framework of affordability and what it can do, to stimulate development in our neighbouring countries and create evermore opportunities for them. So I am very positively inclined.
As far as the help to such organisations at that stage UNITA is to be distinguished from RENAMO. In the case of UNITA the United States of America also supported the war, together with us even though they had sanctions against us. It was an issue of foreign forces from Cuba being brought in into Angola, it was a full-scale war and while, yes, it had it's civil war aspect it also became internationalised by the very presence of vast numbers of Cuban soldiers.
The same to a certain extent applied to Mozambique, but as far as RENAMO is concerned, from the very moment that I came into a decision-making role I was assured that that support has been ended, that that has been ended with the Nkomati Accord and that any support that they were given was aimed at bringing people together, getting them to talk and no longer any form of military support or whatever and that support was given evenhandedly with regard to medical supplies and that type of thing.
MS WILDSCHUT: That's precisely what the problem is, because when agreements end it doesn't mean that suffering ends.
MR DE KLERK: I agree.
MS WILDSCHUT: That the lives of people who have been destroyed and devastated, their suffering continues years into the future, and that's the problem that we're facing. So by just agreeing that an agreement with a particular organisation or that an operation has stopped doesn't mean that the suffering of those people has ended. And I think that that's the question we are faced with right now.
In your submission today I was very struck by the fact that there seemed to be a theme that gross violations constitute murder and assassinations. Torture we talked about and severe ill-treatment for example, leaves long, long-standing scars on people and some of us on this panel have been seeing and treating and involved with people who have suffered tremendous consequences of torture and severe ill-treatment and will still continue to suffer those consequences 10, 20 years into the future.
We have a responsibility, not just to say that we are sorry for what has happened. And I put it to you, Mr de Klerk, we heard very carefully the apology you made this morning, but what does that mean to somebody who has lost his sight, who is blind, to somebody who has lost a family, to somebody who is suffering long-term psychological consequences of torture, what does that mean to somebody, unless we can say that some kind of corrective action needs to be taken?
And I put it to you, what do you think, as the leader of your party, what corrective action should be put in place for people who have been traumatised by the conflict of the past?
MR DE KLERK: I fully agree with you in your analysis that an apology, after all the sides have apologised, because there are similar people who are victims on all sides of the conflict, after all the sides have apologised it will not rectify physically or mentally really harm which has been done. And therefore we enthusiastically support it and continue to support the concept of reparation.
I have made it clear here that we would like, as opposition party, in a constructive, cooperative spirit, to say that we would like to sit down with the governing party and say inasmuch as the State must do something how can we take hands to ensure that we do something meaningful in the field of reparation. We are fully supportive of the concept of reconstruction and development, how do we fit in reparation with available programmes which are available in any event? That's the type of thing that will need to be done on an administrative and policy implementation basis. But on the concept of reparation within the framework of what the country can afford, we are positive, we are constructive, we warmly support it and we would like to be part of developing more specific proposals in that regard.
CHAIRPERSON: Dr Ramashala.
DR RAMASHALA: Mr de Klerk quite frankly I am very disappointed in the time and the space allocated to the question of reparation and rehabilitation in your submission. As a matter of fact at the Bisho hearings, and I realise that Mr Meyer is not here, but at the Bisho hearings when I raised the question Mr Meyer said at the next NP submission that the issue would be addressed at great length. But be that as it may I want to say that your lack of commitment to addressing this issue is indicated on 46 of your second submission which just says,
"Once sufficient information is available the NP would like to hold talks with the government to discuss the possibilities of rehabilitation".
I'd like to raise a number of issues that you might want to note.
Some of the difficult issues that we are facing involve the rehabilitation of those responsible for the commission of gross human rights violations, and in your case people who are in the National Party, the information at our disposal specifically through the amnesty process, suggests that there are a number of people who are responsible for gross human rights violations who explicitly continue to express support, their support and loyalty to their former NP government.
From your submission it is not clear whether your acceptance of moral and political responsibility for some wrongs of the past include some taking of the serious responsibility for the rehabilitation needs of former supporters who are disclosing their actions before the TRC. I am talking about perpetrators on your side, and the same question is asked on the other side.
I would have thought that in your submission you might have wanted to address the issue of the rehabilitation of perpetrators, their families also are being disrupted by the disclosures. They are also going through a very difficult time, and yet in your submission you don't even allude to it, suggesting perhaps, incorrectly on my part, a lack of caring for people who thought that they were engaging in those activities in support of their government.
The second issue is that as a result of your cooperation with the TRC the contents of the Kahn Committee deliberations were made available to us. It is evident through this documentation that large sums of money were transferred overseas to fund some of the secret projects which you now have recommended to be closed down. Are you, Sir, satisfied that these and possibly other funds that were transferred out of the country have been returned to their appropriate departments in South Africa? That's a question.
The fourth question is, what is your attitude, and I deliberately refer to you attitude because it's a reflection of your thinking, your attitude toward the imposition of a once-off reparation tax for purposes of rehabilitation and reconciliation on both sides?
You speak very passionately, at the beginning of your introduction about the devastation that is attributed to apartheid policies. You talk about education, emotional etc, and yet there doesn't seem to be very much thinking that has gone toward addressing those issues, even alluding to the fact that there may be discussions.
In fact the Committee on Rehabilitation and Reparation of the Truth Commission has issued a discussion document on reparation proposals that has been widely distributed throughout the country and we have not had any feedback from your party.
Finally, part of our mandate concerns the recommendations for preventing future abuses. May I ask you to imagine in some reflective self-criticism with the benefit of hindsight, and I emphasise that, given what you know now, the number of abuses by security forces over a protracted period of time, what could have been done to ensure that such abuses did not happen? In other words what should the government today do, in your opinion, to ensure that such abuses do not ever occur again?
How could your message that such activities were not ever authorised in that when they occur will not be tolerated, how could your message be better conveyed to security forces in the field?
MR DE KLERK: Thank you. Can I with regard to the last question say that on page 29 and 30 of my first submission I made 7 specific recommendations with regard to how can we prevent this in the future and what should our basic approach be.
Let me assure the Commissioner that we are not without feelings on the issue of reparation. That we are not standing aside and that the shortness of our replies does not indicate a lack of interest. We reply from a specific position. I am not in government. I am the leader of the opposition. I don't initiate budgets. I am not in a position to take a decision which will result in the expenditure of government money.
That is why we took the route in the reply to say, whereas opposition parties are notorious for making it difficult for governments to expend money and find reasons to criticise them, we would like in a constructive spirit to say we think governments should take the lead because they hold the reigns of power. And we would cooperate with them and we would like to sit down with them, it was in that spirit that we gave a short reply to a question. The question said, how much of this payment of this debt must be funded by the State? That is a decision which essentially lies with the governing party. They must develop the proposal. And in the order and the normal way in which such decisions are taken I made ourselves constructively, positively available to sit down with them with a commitment that we will, yes, cooperate wherever we can.
I think our attitude with regard to reparation is to a certain extent illustrated by the fact that we have supported the bill on special pensions from which many thousands of people who were fighting on the side of what is referred to as "the struggle", older than 35 years are now drawing a pension. I think the total cost to the country is about one billion rand. We supported that.
As to the issue of funds which were spent on secret projects overseas let me say that great care was taken in the last years of my presidency and to the best of my knowledge this still continues to ensure that each and every cent which can be recuperated is brought back to South Africa and it's put into the common treasury account and is made available for usage, to be expended to the benefit for a better life for all South Africans. So great trouble is taken under strict control of the Auditor General to make sure that no irregularities occur.
Then on the issue of that guidelines, a pamphlet has been issued or something, Mrs Camerer informs me that we have not yet had an opportunity, that we understand that we have just been invited to discuss the issue in detail, we will be looking at it carefully, she Chairs a special committee which we have on the TRC proceeds and just yesterday afternoon we had a discussion on the issue of reparation and I asked them to investigate and help us to develop a few guidelines and our possible reactions to possibilities in that regard. So I commit the National Party to be constructively involved in the reparation issue. I cannot just blankly say I will support a specific tax. We supported the tax which had to pay for the first free and democratic elections, and I would like to develop, rather on a multi-party basis, together with other parties the possibility of how we can earn money.
But on taxes, the one idea which was mooted the day before yesterday here, I must say, if we are to classify South Africa's population again, I don't know who will decide who has to pay and who doesn't have to pay and who was guilty of what. Taxes are colour-blind, they are non discriminatory, they are classified throughout the world in terms of indirect tax where everybody pays the same and in terms of scale taxes, according to income where the richest pay the highest percentage and the poorest pay nothing. That is the inherent principle and within that framework we will also constructively look at that as a possible solution.
I also think that a very good starting point would be, although I can't see that raising enough, would be a major campaign to get people on a voluntary basis to contribute.
DR RAMASHALA: Sir thank you. Just as a follow-up, I realise you are tired but you've done it again. I've asked you a question about your party's commitment to the rehabilitation of the perpetrators most of whom fought in support of the apartheid state.
MR DE KLERK: Yes, thank you, I slipped on that one. I really think it's tied up with the issue of reparation. It's reparation of damage after the fact, after the conflict, and I fully agree that that is a category of people who can say that well, and their families specifically, here we have been negatively affected by everything which has happened and they should be dealt with in an even-handed manner in conjunction also with those who need reparation.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. At the close of this fairly gruelling session I would want to express our appreciation to Mr de Klerk for his cooperation with the Commission.
To thank the members of our panel and Glen Goosen and those who have assisted him.
Also to say thank you to Wendy Orr and Hugh Lewin and all the other members of our staff who are engaged in ensuring that these hearings go on smoothly.
Thank you also to the Interpreters for sticking to their medium.
I hope that what has taken place here will be something that may be able to contribute to our search for the truth, but much more importantly that it may be able to contribute to the healing of our nation, traumatised and divided and alienated and that it will be making a contribution to the process of reconciliation.
MR DE KLERK: Thank you. I fully align myself with your concluding remarks. Thank you very much Mr Chairman.