About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

19 Dec 1990: Selebi, Jackie

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     Jackie, you had just talked about how you had to go to Pretoria in the light of the provisions for indemnification made by the government yesterday. We were in Pretoria yesterday and saw ...

PAT     Several people from the Department of Justice and the Department of Home Affairs, their senior staff, Director General.

POM     Now how many people do you estimate are going to require indemnification?

JS     Well from the agreements that have been made one would certainly say over 20,000 people are going to need indemnification since people have to be indemnified first and foremost for having left the country without valid travel documents or passports. People have to be indemnified for having belonged to organisations that were previously banned and people have to be indemnified for whatever actions that they took against the apartheid system and some people, obviously, would have to be indemnified for whatever crimes that they committed. So all the people that are outside of the country that are ANC would certainly have to be indemnified because they left the country, 99.9% recurring, more than that actually, left the country without valid travel documents. They need indemnification for that and the 99.9% recurring again must have left without using the official points of exit and therefore they need indemnification and all of them were members of the ANC which was banned previously. So in one way or another they all have to be indemnified.

POM     The officials there said to us that they had only received applications for 1000 people. Would that be correct?

JS     That's correct. We started the process of getting people to fill in the forms late, after 1st October which was the date on which we should have started the repatriation process. We had given to the government on 25th September a list of 3000 people who needed indemnification and the government came back to us to say no, they will not indemnify those people until they fill in some questionnaire. We received that questionnaire after the 1st October and we had to carry that questionnaire, it had to be reproduced. It was a time when there was a tiff as to whether it should be us who reproduce the questionnaire or the government. Our point then was that it is the government that wants the information and they have to pay for getting the information. We couldn't take ANC funds to reproduce the questionnaire in order to give the government information that they want that we in fact are not very happy to part with that information because of many other reasons.

JS     So we started late in terms of getting people to apply for indemnity. We have given two weeks ago the government 1027 forms for indemnity. Today I was in Pretoria, I gave them 573. Next week I have on my desk 1000 again. I will be giving them 1000. Now for us it's a very involved process. ANC people are found in 35 countries around the globe so for a simple form, whatever it might be, two lines, we've got to get that form over to 35 countries and we've got to explain why people must fill in the form. So that process is not as easy as it might appear in the sense that, for example, in Africa if I've got to take that form from Zambia to Tanzania it means I must book a flight on a Monday, go to Tanzania and stay a whole week because there is no connecting flight that gets you out of Tanzania. So stay a whole week so that the people there can fill in the form. Then I can only go to the next country after a week because I will get another flight on Monday and I am in Maputo, I've got to stay another whole week to move from Maputo to Zimbabwe because I've got to explain this. So the transportation system in the continent is not very good where you could do these things easily.

JS     Communications, many countries don't have facilities for fax machines so how do you get, say, 6000 people in Uganda to fax their application forms? It's easy you can send one and they fill it, they duplicate it and then everybody fills in but if they are to use a fax, because your plane will take you three weeks to get there, you don't have a fax machine there, you have it in Johannesburg. So we aren't able to move a little bit fast on these issues. That is why they have 1027 plus 573 today. Now if they indemnify this number of people at least we will be seen to be starting the process and in the meantime we will be giving them other forms because obviously we are not going to be able to carry all the 20,000 at a go.

POM     The people who received indemnification yesterday, all they have to do is to really fill out that form. They still have to fill out the form, right?

JS     No, the people filled in the forms first and the forms were sent to Pretoria and upon receipt of those forms then Pretoria indemnified the people.

POM     Oh I see.

PAT     I think there are two things we don't understand. De Klerk made an announcement yesterday that all people in X, Y & Z block are indemnified. Do they still have to fill out the form?

JS     They have because you see they've got to know John is indemnified, so all he was talking about is categories but those people in those categories must still fill in the form and the form must go to Pretoria, Pretoria must process and be able to say here is the list of the people that are indemnified.

PAT     So he wasn't doing anything new. There was nothing new agreed to?

JS     There's nothing new in it. For example, I say I gave them these 1027 forms two weeks ago so he announced this yesterday. It doesn't mean that those people who are in those categories will come into the country. First they will have to prove at the airport how they came to be in that particular category. So what it means in reality is that he indemnifies those people but they still have to go through the process of filling in that form and Pretoria has to come back. I'm from there, they haven't given me the list of the people that they've indemnified. They have not completed the list. They said to me they will fax it to me, not even fax it, I must come tomorrow, go tomorrow at 11 o'clock to Justice Department to get the list of the people that are actually indemnified outside of what he said in that thing. Then, only then I will be able to say to the people, now you see the process how it goes? I go tomorrow, he gives me the list. I look at the list here. Then I've got to carry that list on Friday, go to Lusaka, have a general members' meeting and say, Here in Lusaka this one, and this one is this one, and this one have been indemnified.

JS     Then the next issue is passports. How do we travel to SA without passports? Here we have to say, now how will we sort out passports? Home Affairs, they are sitting there making what they call emergency travel certificates. She has only been able to give me 300 that she has completed. Now if there are 1000 people who are indemnified, not a whole 1000 can move until they get those travel certificates which she is making and so we've got to wait until we get all that number and then we can take them, the whole 1000 can now move.

POM     Then you have to go back to Lusaka with those certificates?

JS     Then I've got to back to Lusaka with those travel documents. So the process is quite involved and lots of bureaucracy in the sense that they would have made things easy if they as government had indemnified 1000 people and they give the list of 1000 people to Home Affairs and then Home Affairs makes the passports so that when they announce to me they are able to give me the passports and give me the names of the people. I go to Lusaka once, I say you and you have been indemnified, here are your passports. Now you are able to come back into the country. Which date can we put for the first lot? But it's not like that. There's not much communication, for example, between Home Affairs and Justice. She is asking me tomorrow, after I have received the form with a list of people who have been indemnified by Justice Department, I must take it to her, that's our private arrangement, so that she can make a photocopy so that she can then see the list of people who have been indemnified and try and rush with emergency travel certificates. Otherwise Justice is not going to give her that information. So that's the problem. She's been asking me, for example, to give her copies of the Government Gazette. Now the government produces the Government Gazette, I get it from the government but I must go and give it to the government Department of Home Affairs because nobody gives it to her directly and that's the person we deal with in terms of people entering the country. That's the kind of road so we are even helping to coordinate the way government departments interact.

POM     Two things. One was that among some of those who were looking for indemnification there was some reluctance to fill out the form, that they saw the form as a form that was an intelligence gathering form by the government rather than anything else. Has this been a problem?

JS     It is a problem. Basically that form is a problem. I rejected it initially when I saw it and we all rejected that form because we thought exiles should be returning to the country unconditionally, political prisoners should also be released unconditionally but the government has insisted on that questionnaire, a questionnaire which is problematic in the sense that it is very difficult for me to trust that I can give to the government all my secrets and think that this government can be a good custodian of secrets of ANC members. I don't believe it.

POM     They insist on this form?

JS     They insist.

POM     Like it's non-negotiable?

JS     It's non-negotiable on their side. So it has been a problem for many, many people including ourselves here but we have tried to work out a way which will not make the individuals involved, all of us, be subjected to interrogation through that questionnaire. There is obviously information that is necessary like your name, your date of birth, place of birth. That's no problem, section A of the questionnaire. Also section B of the questionnaire where they are asking, 'Have you got a travel document?' and that sort of thing, that is absolutely no problem. But we then face problems when we move to section C which demands that you state all the events that you are asking indemnity for because if you took members of the NEC, for example, every action that has taken place inside the country they are responsible for, all of them as individuals and as a group, so it means if one MK guerrilla comes into the country and places a bomb in a dustbin I should know so that I can put it that one person places this bomb in a dustbin on the basis of our instruction as the NEC. So it would mean that the NEC would write volumes. Oliver Tambo would have to compose an encyclopaedia if he is to meet the demands of the government because every action that has been undertaken by members of MK, by people in the underground, are actions that they did at the behest of the ANC and therefore he as leader of the organisation bears responsibility for everything so it's impossible.

JS     Someone who has been a commander of Vula, for example, like Siphiwe Nyanda, Accused Number 1 in the Vula trial, he has been Commander of uMkhonto weSizwe for 15 years and for 15 years he has been coming in and out of this country, has been sending people to act against the regime so he's got to remember all of those acts. He's got to remember all the people that he sent inside the country for a period of 15 years, that on this day I sent two people to do this, on this day. Now clearly nobody would want to give over to the government that sort of information. We thought and we still think that the government has got some information about certain individuals and they thought that the return of the exiles is a good opportunity for them to fill up their data base on the camps.

JS     Now as ANC we have decided that the ANC will apply for indemnity for its members and therefore for Section C we have agreed on a specific formulation that everybody would use to avoid having to detail that I did this or I did that, as long as those actions are actions that were undertaken or were taken at the instance of the ANC, so we have got a formula like that, like all activities carried out on the instructions of or in pursuance of the objectives, policy, or in pursuance of implementing the policy, strategy and tactics of the ANC. So if somebody fills in that all those actions he took, political actions, demonstrations, even armed action, he did those at the instructions of the ANC and therefore the ANC is applying for indemnity for him for those things.

JS     They say at some point we must motivate why we thought those actions are political. Obviously this government can't say today that the activities of the ANC are not politically motivated, therefore we argue that all activities of the ANC are recognised and regarded by the SA government to be politically motivated. So it is in fact the ANC that is applying on behalf of its members.

POM     But has the government accepted that?

JS     They have no choice. They will have to accept that otherwise they will have to say they are refusing people indemnity.

PAT     So on these 1027 applications that have been made you have used that rationale?

JS     Not everybody has used that, some people. And if, like they say today, I don't know if you met him, Swanepoel in the Department of Justice, and even not, you met the Director of Justice?

PAT     Yes.

JS     They are saying to me that the number of people who have been indemnified are more than 250. Now out of the number 1027, 250 are people who could fill only parts A and B, that is people who didn't do military training, people who didn't do anything except join in the ANC having left the country. So if they've indemnified more than 250 then it means that they've indemnified some of the people who have used the formula that we have given because only 250 didn't use that formula because they didn't need to use it. But if it is more than 250, like they are saying to me, then it means that they have accepted the formula that we have used.

POM     If they use it for one they set a precedent. One last question on the indemnity question and it relates to the question of the detention of the members of the ANC who were coming into the country last weekend for the International Affairs Council who were held up at the airport. We asked them about that and they said that they had told you, and I think Penuell Maduna, that these guys would have to fill out indemnity forms and that the indemnity forms weren't submitted to them until late on Friday, that it was too late to process them and that they wouldn't let them into country because if they did that in fact they could have been arrested for offences they had committed because there was no indemnity and they didn't want to embarrass the State President by having to arrest them.

JS     Clearly, for me, there are people within the police and also people somewhere in the government structures who are not very happy with the process. We have information, we have correspondence between ourselves with the Justice Department that dates back to June where we tried to get all of those people into the country, applied for them for clearance and they came back to say, no, they need immunity. We applied for immunity in one case, the case of the ANC Representative in the United Nations Observer Mission, we applied for him and they came back and said he needs immunity. We applied for immunity. They came back to say immunity is denied. Now the man was a delegate to the conference elected by a constituency of the ANC to come to the conference and represent them. Now there is no way we could say you have elected a wrong person who can't come into the country and there is no way we could say to our representative at the United Nations, Don't come into the country because the government refuses you immunity, because we had applied and we can't imagine why would people want to refuse to give somebody temporary immunity for the duration of the conference. But he was kept at the airport until we intervened and could prove to the Director of Justice together with this Dave Swanepoel.

JS     We sat with them on Thursday last week from eight o'clock till twelve o'clock where we proved to them that all of these people that were coming we had applied for them to come into the country. In certain instances you came back and said, No it's not granted, in certain instances you came back and said you want their CVs, you want their fingerprints, you want their photographs, they wanted papers of the visit. We've got all that information here. We've got it, I could show you the files. That's what they demanded of us and we are saying people are going to the conference, why must they give you fingerprints? Why must they give you photographs? We've never done that before. In certain instances they just did not reply. We went to Pretoria with all the data, we sat with them and showed that in so many cases you have not responded, so many cases you have responded to demand their fingerprints and their photographs, so many cases you have said indemnity refused, what do you expect us to do in all of these cases?

JS     At that very moment they said to us, We will come back to you. We left that office at twelve. At half past four all of those people who were on that list, 118, were indemnified and they could come into the country. So we had shown them how impossible they are. It is not true that they got the things late. We could prove it. We've got the information here. It's just that some people somewhere are sitting there, the applications come, and they put them aside.

JS     Let me give you another example. I've given them 1027 two weeks ago. To date I have not received from the government a letter of receipt. I physically went there, gave the person 1000 and gave him a letter from the Secretary General of the ANC that says, We do hereby apply for indemnification of these 1027 people who would like to get indemnity before the end of the year. So we gave them. He then said, Yes, I will acknowledge receipt and I will put the names of all the people that we have applied for. Expect it in two days. Now it's two weeks, we are moving into the third week. We have hardly received a letter of receipt. That's how the government works and therefore when they have not done their work they cannot say to us that we didn't. We want our people to come back. We are the last people to drag our feet on this question.

JS     I am here permanently working on this issue, I will show you my office, I've got a pile like this of forms that need indemnity. I'll be carrying them next week.

POM     Do you think this is part of either a deliberate strategy or one that is confined to individuals within departments, that they are going to frustrate the process at every turn by slowing things up?

JS     No I think it's a deliberate move by certain individuals, calculated in a way. I think there are people within government circles who are calculating on two things. One is that people who are outside would grow impatient of staying outside of the country, and that's obvious, if the leadership is seen to have moved into the country and they are unable to come. Naturally people would be anxious to want to know what's happening, why aren't we coming, we have applied, we have filled in all the forms. If that happened then there is a chance that there will be disaffection between membership of the ANC and the leadership of the ANC. That's one thing. So you delay them a little bit, let the membership become restless then they are going to quarrel with their leadership.

JS     The second thing is there are people that they really don't want in the country. It's all people who are connected with MK who have done military training. If the government had its way we should be saying all of those who did military training, you stand aside, let only those who have not done military training come into the country. That they have said in as many words. All the cases that we applied for clearance for people to come, they come back and say, But this one needs immunity, and once they say that you know that they know that he has done military training and therefore can't come back. When the Chief Representative in the UN went to the government legation in New York, UN Representative, he was told by the Ambassador there that, You know, Pretoria says you in your young days, youthful days, you went for military training. That's why they don't want to give you immunity to come into the country. So that's their reason.

JS     I was saying to them, I was talking to them to say it's very stupid, if you think this process will continue without the involvement of what you consider the hawks in the ANC, who are people who have done military training, and you would want to exclude them from the process by making sure that they don't come into the country, they don't benefit from whatever process that the ANC has started with the government, then certainly this process is going to fail because that's a big constituency in the ANC. Of all the people that are coming from outside I would say 80%/85% have done military training and if you want to exclude that constituency, which is an armed constituency, they you're actually shooting yourselves in your toe because those people can derail the talks. If you keep all those soldiers there and say, You are not coming in because you are soldiers, they will walk. They are used to forced marches. They are here in Swaziland, they are here in Zimbabwe, Botswana, some are inside the country. They will walk and come into the country and do things that the ANC would not agree with but it will not be because of the fault of the ANC but it will be you because you are trying to weaken the ANC by avoiding the actual people that you must deal with. If the government wants to sell the process, the people it must talk to are the people who are armed, who are in uniform because if you've got those to agree with the process what problems do you have?

JS     So I think their strategy is two-pronged. It can only be like this for the simple reason we are dealing with the police. I have to be indemnified by a Brigadier MacIntyre. That man tortured me in the late seventies before I left the country. Many of those exiles have gone through that man, he has tortured them. Today he is the one who must sit in judgement of the same people whether they can come back into the country. I said that much to the Director of Justice when we met on Thursday that if there are people who need indemnity some of them are sitting here in Pretoria, and I mentioned the name of Brigadier MacIntyre to him. So he is the one who sits there and decides and he's but a Security policeman, he remains a policeman. He wants more information, that's all what he wants, if these people can give him information and that information is information that I don't think MacIntyre just wants for the fun of it. It's information that he would want to use one day. Say the talks get derailed, what happens if we have given him all this information? That's the situation that we find ourselves in with these people.

POM     Since 2nd February, how has your opinion of De Klerk changed or not changed?

JS     It hasn't really changed, my opinion of him. I remember I have dealt with the youth in the ANC as Secretary of the ANC Youth and for a period of two years or more De Klerk was our main subject because De Klerk introduced in parliament as Minister of Education a bill that came to be known as the De Klerk Bill which was a bill that sought to extend the universities to become part of the police force. That bill was saying that any university which is unable to stop its students from being involved in political activity, that university shall lose its grant from the government. By that Act, De Klerk was then the minister responsible, was saying the universities must become the policemen, they must police their own students and if students are involved in politics they must be expelled otherwise the university is going to lose its grant.

JS     Now that took us a lot of time to work with NUSAS, with SASO, with other student organisations, to fight what we called the De Klerk bills. The De Klerk bills are something that were in 1987, around 1987/88. I don't think that this man has changed that dramatically. I listened to his speech yesterday, very disappointing, disappointing in the sense that that speech was promising us more action by the police, police who have proved to be discredited in the community, police who have shown that they can never act impartially and he's trying to sort out and clean the police force. He is in fact promising us more police force, more strength, more SADF, in fact he was promising us iron fist.

JS     So my perception of the man hasn't changed. There isn't anything that he has done fundamentally. He says we came back into the country and held our first conference in 30 years as though this is not our country. In the first place we should not have left this country. It is our country and we have every right to use this country to have a conference. It is no big favour from De Klerk. That he should know. We were coming back into this country with PW there, with him there we didn't ask for permission, we have always been inside this country. Of course maybe the leadership of the ANC was not coming openly so that he knew. Mac Maharaj has been here for a number of years, only discovered this year, as a leader of the ANC. He didn't ask for permission from them so it's no big deal that we had a conference inside the country.

JS     What I am saying is that I haven't seen anything really fundamental. I'm really disappointed in the way he characterises the youth. It's only a leader who lives in the 15th century who would not expect the youth to be radical. There is everything right in youth being radical because they want to remove the system of apartheid. If we had dormant youth who think like 60 year olds then we would certainly know that the future of this country is going to the dogs.

POM     I want to go back to De Klerk, but to talk about the youth for a minute. Quite a number of people that we have talked to, including people in the ANC right across to the NP, when they talk about obstacles to the negotiation process might face talk about the youth, the volatility of the youth and there's this huge generation of unemployed and uneducated young people out there who didn't know why the armed struggle had been suspended and were volatile and might not be under anybody's control or could move to the PAC or could get involved in more violence or whatever.

JS     No, I think the people are misreading. Naturally anywhere in this globe the youth will be more militant and have more energy. Naturally the youth will be more impatient with the processes that are taking place. I am impatient as the youth are impatient. We should have done away with this system of apartheid yesterday. So obviously the youth have that impatience. They want to see the process moving and moving very fast but it is not true that the youth are unable to read the situation politically and see that the correct line is this. The conference that the ANC had, and even Mandela said it, that predominantly the delegates were youth, young people. Now they didn't take a decision that we suspend all talks. They didn't say stop the talks, we want to go to war. They have accepted that the talks are necessary but they were saying the pace is slow and I'm saying the pace is slow.

JS     1st October we should have started with the return of exiles. It's December. Today I haven't got the list of exiles that must return except for what is written in the papers, but actual exiles that are returning. Political prisoners from 1st October only 23 have been released. That is still 3000 out there, so obviously in terms of that the process is moving very, very slow and the youth would want to see the process move very fast. Naturally if they don't have any other outlet except their feet what other means can they use to change the situation? They will want to go and demonstrate, they will want to move around in the streets, they will want to carry placards.

JS     Now clearly we need to harness that energy of the youth and put it in the correct direction. People say youth must go to school. I agree but it is the other generation that must create conditions of study. There is no point in saying to a young person go to school when there is no teacher at that particular school, there are no desks, there's no chalk, there are no books. Why must he go there? What is he going to do there? Obviously he will go to school and bask in the sun standing next to the wall and playing other actions. So I am saying whilst we are saying we need to harness the energies of the youth but the other generation must create conditions. There is unemployment. In a situation where you have got so many thousands, in fact millions of people unemployed, what does anybody expect? There are no recreational facilities.

POM     What are the expectations of the youth? What do they expect to happen after this process takes place? What do they hope to do to improve the quality of their lives?

JS     The hopes of the youth are this process if it gives us jobs, it gives us shelter, it gives us security. If the process would guarantee the youth just these so that people can go and get jobs and earn their own living, be able to take care of themselves. People must be able to set up their own family and therefore have shelter, have houses. People must feel secure that they are not in danger, they cannot be stopped, they can be arrested, they can be shot at. They expect from this process these three things. There are other things about education for themselves and their children because a lot have missed out on this. But I think these are the major three things.

JS     If I went to Soweto today and I said to them I have got 1000 jobs none of them would say I don't want to get a job. They will come and get those jobs and once they get jobs they will start by thinking first thing family and family means I must have a house, I must have a bed, I must have all these things. Then people would be able to think positively but as long as there are no prospects for jobs, there is no prospect for housing and no security; we can't expect anything except the worst.

POM     We were able to attend the opening session and the final session of the conference and it seemed that there was criticism of the leadership for lack of communication with the members. Are structures in place that allow for adequate communication from, again, the leadership of the ANC with the youth?

JS     You see the Youth League has just been established on 27th November. In fact the process of establishing the Youth League was launched on that day. We can't say today we have a fully fledged Youth League with so many branches. They are still working on setting up these structures of the Youth League.

POM     Youth is defined as what age group?

JS     Persons between the ages of 16 and 30.

POM     So could somebody be a member of both the ANC branch and of the Youth League?

JS     Right.

POM     What would be the differences?

JS     The difference is that membership of the ANC starts at the age of 18 and membership of the Youth League actually starts, I was wrong, at 14. So persons between the ages of 14 and 18 cannot be members of the ANC but they can be members of the Youth League and it is only those that are above 18 who can then apply for membership of the ANC. Now the programme of the Youth League is a programme which is not the exact programme of the ANC because it caters for people who are not members of the ANC but are members of the Youth League, who might actually not even want to join the ANC but who prefer only to remain as members of the Youth League. So the programme of the Youth League needs to be broader than that of the ANC to bring in as many groups as possible, young people's organisations into the Youth League. So there is a difference in that sense, in the sense that the Youth League has its own constitution, it's own rules, own code of conduct. It draws its own programmes but the problems, of course, are influenced a lot by what programmes the ANC has but they are not identical.

JS     So I am saying communication with the young people has been difficult in that sense that we have only started the Youth League to start setting up structures of the ANC. So persons between 14 and 18 would be still excluded because they can't be members of the ANC but they regard themselves as ANC in terms of outlook and everything. So whatever discussions are held in the ANC branches sort of exclude them so it needs the Youth League to be able to bring the process to them.

JS     The second thing, even in the structures of the ANC itself there is uneven development. In certain areas we have developed so much good structures and there is so much communication between HQ and those particular structures but in certain areas there is not good development so people there might not know things that have happened today at HQ but people in the PWV region might know whereas people in a branch in Griqualand West will get it after two weeks so there is that problem in communication.

JS     Now again communication is difficult in the sense I am saying ANC people are in 35 countries so you've got to be communicating with the people that are outside the country. We had delegates to the conference again who communicated to people who are inside the country. So it's a real cumbersome programme and it would be much easier if everybody is inside the country. If I've got to give a briefing to people in Uganda about our discussion they will get to know of it in two weeks time. Now in two weeks time many other things have happened and if these people were to come to the conference they will say we don't know this, we don't know this, we don't know the leadership is not giving us enough information about the developments, that sort of thing.

POM     Have you got enough telephone lines? When you apply to get telephones do they give you the number of lines that you ask for?

JS     I don't know how many lines they have requested but I know that this place has got only eight and eight lines are certainly not very helpful for an ANC HQ. Mandela alone would need about two lines, Sisulu will need two lines, the man who sits here as Secretary General he needs two lines and then the rest of us will have to share the two. I know it's very difficult to phone this place because of that particular reason, that there are very few lines and you can imagine how many people phone this place. It's because of that problem that we have even tried to divide the HQ of the ANC. We have now opened an office up this street, at Frederick Street, No. 16, to try and reduce the congestion but it's not very helpful in the sense that eight lines in actual fact, the two of them, all the time Mandela would do with eight lines.

POM     Since February have things gone better than you would have expected, the same, just what you would have expected or worse than you would have expected?

JS     I would have expected I had a very romantic view of this thing. I thought it would move very fast and very smooth but I really got derailed and disappointed with the process quite early merely because of selfish reasons. I was saying to you I'm responsible for the ANC Youth League for a very long time and in trying to launch the ANC Youth League, for example, let me give you an example, we wanted to launch the formation of the ANCYL on 16th June and I had outside of the country 14 people who were supposed to come here to help establish with the people who are here this Youth League. We applied for these people to enter this country as early as in May. They were only able to come on 24th November. All this time Ned MacIntyre was saying these people can't come into the country. Now we missed out a number of months which could have been used to set up the structures of the Youth League so that by the time we get to conference we wouldn't have people complaining about communication because we would have set up those structures. Now that took me a long time and even a threat to MacIntyre to get the people to be allowed entry and I started saying these things are not moving as I thought. Now I'm dealing with these people on a daily basis. I'm saying I'm going to Pretoria daily and interacting with them and moving around I've come to realise that actually I am more disappointed than I would want to admit even to ANC members when I talk to them in Lusaka about the process because you are dealing with people who say 'the law says' as though we are party to that law and we have to play the game according to their rules. We move from the premise that we are not part of those laws and therefore we are not going to respect those laws and besides being legalistic about this question it's a political question. Here's a UN Representative of the ANC who wanted to come here. So I am saying, say he goes back to the USA having failed to come into the country, it's one man who's got the biggest audience, he's got the whole UN there to listen to him. So he stands up on that rostrum and says the process is not reversible because 1, 2, 3 I went there, I wasn't allowed into the country. Now naturally SA will be playing with its own game that it wants to win, the isolation. So I am saying lots of disappointments and everybody I sense feeling that. The ANC wouldn't have talked about deadlines if all of us did not feel that the process is not moving very fast.

POM     One thing that we noticed since we were here in July and August was that when the violence began in late July the ANC would say it is elements of the police operating in collusion with elements in Inkatha and it's up to the government to stop it. That's moved now to the point of where the ANC says it believes there's a campaign orchestrated by the state itself which implies in a way with the government's blessing and authority, which means De Klerk. Could you just expand on that a little for us?

JS     I'm going to give you an example. If I went to De Klerk last week Friday and said to him when we are receiving the President of the ANC, police outside of the airport unleashed their dogs to those crowds and precipitated what might have been a very violent situation, he would have denied it. He would deny it openly, say there's no such thing. And that's what happened exactly. I was there and the dog was let loose to me and I confronted that policeman and the first thing he did he removed his name tag and I went to his lieutenant who protected his man and nothing could come of it except swearing at each other. Now clearly there is a move, there is a plan that some people somewhere said and planned how to deal with the ANC and those people have not abandoned those plans. The problem that I have with De Klerk, and I want to concede that maybe he might not be sitting there and have planned with these people, but the problem that I have is that rather than work in order to expose those people who are intending to derail the process he's in fact giving them sanctuary.

     [There are many examples that if it was not to be on the record I would give you.

POM     It's not on the record.

JS     For example, he once - the girl, what's her name? She came back now recently from Zimbabwe.

POM     She was in jail as a spy?

JS     Right. He wants her to be released and he says, Please can you organise that that person is released. OK fine. We've got to talk to the Zimbabweans to say, What do you feel about it? and they say, Nothing doing. But ultimately things are worked out, so Mugabe says, OK, fine, let him stop Radio Truth. (You know Radio Truth? It's a radio station that is broadcasting from this country into Zimbabwe.) If he stops that broadcast we will release this person. So he's told and he says, OK, let me go and look for Radio Truth. He can't find Radio Truth. He uses Military Intelligence, he can't get it. He comes back and says there is no such thing. People say, Do you want us to take you to Zimbabwe so you can listen to the programmes? He says, There's no such thing. I've used MI, there's nothing. They've come back to say to me there's nothing. Until a private businessman on his own employed some investigators to investigate, they found it right in Grobblersdal, right inside a military camp. That's where the thing was being broadcast from. His own military camp broadcasting to Zimbabwe and that's how it was discovered. It's closed today. So we are saying why did you deny, why don't you say I don't know, because we accept that there are things that you might not know that are done by certain people in government including some of your ministers, like this one, but you stand there and say there's no such thing as Radio Truth, everybody is lying, Mugabe is lying. But here is this businessman goes and discovers it and you go there and you find it there.]

JS     So I am saying the problem is he's not able to say I've got a problem here because obviously the story about the beating, it's absolutely nonsense to say they've got photographs that show the other side. We know, I live in the townships, I see these things happening, I see them happen. I'm not reading a newspaper, the collusion. Clearly it's there for everybody to see and all of these times what we have been doing, we collect this information and we give it to them. Like now in December we told them there is a road block set up by Inkatha when you go to Natal and all those things. We told them the list of people that they want to kill. We gave them that they want to kill in December only 1000 people. That is what is in their programme because in those hostels where they sit and plan we have our people there who go in and listen to these things and know the plans and they bring them and we go to them and say, now look the police and government here act on these things. Nothing happens until the people are killed, then we have iron fist. So that's why it has reached that point.

POM     I suppose what I don't understand is why say Mandela in one of his meetings with De Klerk doesn't say we have to have satisfactory responses and even you admitting that you have a problem and that there are elements in the police or in the security forces or whatever who are a problem, that's part of the solution but you can't indefinitely go on denying, denying, denying that there's any complicity on the part of the state.

JS     I think he has raised this question on a number of occasions, especially when it is one to one. They've had one to one meetings to raise these questions and we have even submitted to them proof of some of the things to him. Now it's for him to act and we respect confidentiality. If there is agreement on that we can't then go to the press with that kind of information. But the unfortunate thing is that after having given that kind of date he will then come back and say there's nothing wrong with the police, the police are acting in good faith. Now for goodness sake Mrs Mxenge, Dr Webster, all of these people must have been killed by somebody, it couldn't have been the ANC. All proof is that they were killed by government agents. Instead we get a commission that clears everybody and we are saying as the leader of government if we are to start on a new slate he's got to demonstrate to our people that there is change and the only change they can see is that the killers of Webster and many other people must be arrested and brought to book and I am sure if he did that, only one act, the killers of Mxenge they are prosecuted, who come from the police force, that would make a lot of people say, no, this man is serious about this. Because killings happen continually.

JS     ANC members who are working in this office, they go out of this office, two of them get kidnapped here, it is said by the Ascaris, by the Ascaris and police in two combis, they are kidnapped here, taken to Hillbrow Police Station, interrogated there. Mandela phones and he says, I want them released now. In an hour they are released. When we say the government and the police force are harassing our people De Klerk says, No. And we are talking here about people who are here. It happened. And he phoned Vlok and Vlok told Hillbrow Police Station to release those people. If they were not policemen who kidnapped them, who else? Why would ordinary thugs take them to a Police Station? And instead of him saying, You see the police, you are not playing the game, he will again say, No, these people were in the wrong, that's why they were arrested. Arrested for what?

POM     What role do you think Inkatha plays in all of this and Buthelezi in particular?

JS     I think Buthelezi is somebody who wants to get himself around the table of negotiations and his calculations are that the vehicle of violence will put him there. Violence that initially, I think, he played a very important part in planning and in unleashing, but violence that I don't think he's now in control of at the present moment. There are forces greater than him that are now controlling the process and he just has to play the game according to their rules. I think it's very clear that this is intended to make sure that he sits around the negotiating table by brutalising as many people as possible and by standing up to what is called the ANC, to be seen to be standing up to the ANC and challenging the might of the ANC. It is very instructive that the violence erupts in a big way three days after the suspension of armed actions by the ANC, in a real big way.

JS     There are two things. Obviously ANC members in the street, even myself, would say please arm me, give me weapons to defend myself. And once the ANC did that everybody in this world would say, Aha! They've gone back against their undertaking of August 6th. So the ANC doesn't arm the people. The people say, You see the ANC is leaving us to be murdered by these people, we are victims of these people. That's the aim, to weaken the ANC. Now obviously the ANC really, truly speaking can't continue to bury people without retaliating. There has to come a time when the ANC says whatever the objectives we wanted to achieve we can't negotiate over the graves of our people.

POM     Would you say you're close to that point now?

JS     I think the conference was very close to that point, very close, because nobody is doing anything about the violence. Really, truly speaking that is that. Sisulu comes from there today, it has erupted again. The question now we are facing ...

POM     Sorry where it has erupted again?

JS     Bekkersdal. The question now we are facing from our membership, oh no, we've got weapons in this country, the government knows, many of them for that matter, many, many. Our people are saying, Give us those things to defend ourselves, and we are saying, No, we want the process to succeed. And the people get killed, people using weapons. Somebody goes to Jeppe Station he's not killing Inkatha, he's not killing ANC, he's not killing PAC, he goes there and opens fire on blacks who are standing on a platform, intended to cause demoralisation and if you can look well when Mandela leaves this country and goes on his tours abroad the violence subsides. When he comes back it just bursts. The question is why? So there are people who say, Hey! If this man is not around here we don't have this violence. As soon as he comes it erupts so he's got something to do with violence. And that's how some people have planned in certain circles to discredit the man.

POM     We went out to Phola Park last week on the tour that had been organised for Mandela. Last night we went back to the hostel in Thokoza and talked some men there. They were convinced that it was Mandela who had gone to the police station the night before and Mandela who was behind the violence.

PAT     They said there were police who collaborated. We know, we saw him, he was at the police station.

POM     Finally, and thank you for being so generous with your time, take 30th April, the time at which all indemnification should have been processed, where do you think things will be? Where would like them to be and where do you think they will be?

JS     I really think there ought to be some realisation from the government side that things must move and they have the possibility of moving things. I am sure, I hope the ANC will not be forced to carry out its threat and I sincerely believe that things will be at a situation where the majority of people that are exiled have returned and the majority of people that are in prison are released and the government from 2nd February, I think parliament opens on 1st February, will have to deal with security legislation, repressive security legislation. It will also have to deal with the question of political trials. It doesn't make sense that whilst you are normalising the political situation you are busy prosecuting people on the basis of laws that in fact you are going to change on the basis of the statutes that no longer function for membership of the ANC or whatever when you are sitting and discussing with the ANC. So I think by 1st April we will have reached that point and therefore it will be not necessary, hopefully, that the ANC carries out it's threat because if the ANC pulls out there are no negotiations, period. It must be very clear. There are two major parties, if the NP moves out there can't be negotiations and if the ANC pulls out there can't be any negotiations. It will still be the tricameral system which will not come to anything. I think reason prevailing within all the parties involved that we reach April 1st having met all the necessary conditions that will make discussions for a new constitution possible.

POM     Just finally, a few people have suggested to us that because of the criticism that the NEC came under at the conference, that in elections in June that there may be a substantial turnover in the NEC and that really nothing of consequence in terms of negotiations themselves can take place until a new executive is in place.

JS     I don't want to predict who they will elect and who will they not elect from the conference. That's pure speculation as to who will come in and who will go out. One thing that is clear is that people will be exercising their democratic right but certainly the criticism that the NEC faced at this particular conference, it's criticism that is not so strong to reach those proportions. It's criticism like, OK, what have we done about people on death row? Why are they not out? Now someone who's not involved in these intricacies that I'm talking about, who has a romantic view of all of these things, he expected that once you talk to the government all the people on death row will be released, all the political prisoners will be released, all the exiles will be here by now. Now naturally that person will criticise the leadership. Now it's not for the leadership to start defending and holding positions. That's one area about political prisoners.

JS     The second area is communication. It's a reality that you've got the leadership here and some people in the Soviet Union want to be consulted about a meeting that's going to take place on August 6th and you take the decision on the meeting of August 6th on 30th July and there are people out there in Moscow who want to know this and they mustn't read it in the newspapers or get it from the BBC. Naturally those people will criticise the leadership for not having done that. So the leadership has to take that rapping even if you know that it was virtually impossible to have been there and be able to brief those people and to be back at Pretoria on 6th April. But once all of those people are here it's easier inside the country to be able to feed that information to everybody. Once all the structures are in place, you see you've got a branch somewhere in Odendaalsrus in the Free State, they don't have an office, they don't have a telephone, they don't have a fax machine, they have no telex, how do you communicate from here? It means physically somebody going to Odendaalsrus whereas if we had set up our infrastructure with money coming we would have been able to say there's a fax on what we are proposing to do and that communication or telephone.

JS     Now these are some of the criticisms. Some people would say why do you have talks that are confidential with the government? Because you see the problem is you met and defined a political offence and you came out and explained it to us but when the government comes up it comes up with another interpretation. Naturally the leadership gets a rap for that. For example, the measures that were promulgated by Kobie Coetsee where he linked progress on Article Three of the Pretoria Minute to the return of exiles and the release of political prisoners. There was no such an agreement between the ANC and him, or the government team, but when he made an announcement on behalf of the government in the Government Gazette he put it that progress made on the discussion of the working group on suspension of armed actions and related activities will determine the pace of the return of exiles and the release of political prisoners.

JS     Now a member of the ANC who is in Butterworth goes to conference, he has read that document, and he knows that there was a joint committee between the ANC and the government. On the government side was Kobie Coetsee, on the ANC side was Zuma. So he puts up his hand in the meeting and says, Why did you in the working group sell us? I mean something like that. Why did you allow to tie the return of exiles to progress on this thing? So you said, But no, that's not it. He says, No, but it appeared in the Government Gazette and you people made agreement with the government. So you get that kind of criticism. Now that's criticism partially because of lack of information and partially because there was no dynamic contact.

JS     I don't think people will be reading a lot in saying that because of that criticism there is going to be an uproar and a revolution in the ANC leadership. It is quite true that people at that meeting will say who they want to guide the organisation and nobody would quarrel with that. There might be people who are removed from office, like us, and some other people that the electorate feel could carry out the mandate much better. It happens everywhere.

POM     It's called democracy.

JS     It's called democracy.

POM     Thanks very much. Is there a copy of Mandela's closing speech available?

JS     No, I haven't got it.

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