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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

23 Aug 1991: Terre'Blanche, Eugene

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POM     Mr Terre'Blanche, I've been doing a little reading up on you since we talked last year and was surprised to learn that you are an accomplished playwright in your field and that your play is a prescribed text book in South African schools and that it deals with the Boer War or the development of the Boer people. Could you tell me a little bit about that? Are you still writing?

ET     The fact is unluckily I do not have the time to write any more but I wrote that play years ago and it is so, it was for recent years a prescribed book for the Standard XIII and IX in South Africa but it was not about the Boer War it was about the struggle to survive in this hard and bitter land. It was a story of a farmer who actually worked for somebody else and later on he bought his own farm and then, it was just a story of farming, the battle of our farmers against nature, because, as you know, this is a very, very dry country and it was the battle for survival. There were many circumstances which you can see in the play, the hard fact that my people have had to come where they are today. But in the last years I really do not have time. I hope one day, after we win this battle, then I can go back and do some more reading and write again.

POM     The land seems to occupy a central place in Boer myth.

ET     Yes.

POM     It's like the essence of, the distillation of that myth is the fight for the land. Do you see the Boer people as being more a rural people and people whose roots are in the land and will continue to be in the land rather than a people who are part of the hustle and bustle of urban centres?

ET     Well I think, you see what actually happened after the British war, that bitter war where the British killed more than 27 000 women and children, the war in which they nearly destroyed everything on our farms, many of the fighters of the Boer soldiers who went home to their farms, who were destroyed, went to the cities, worked in the cities, worked in the mines and they became the urban people in the end. But the longing to be free and to have property will always, generation after generation, stay with our people because we are born, our nation is born on the plains and the vast and the open country. We are born in ox wagons like this. The birth of the nation was in nature where they fought against dangerous animals like lions and elephants, etc., fought against the Zulu, the Matebele, the Xhosa, always alone where they learned to use their country, their land, not only to live from but to use it in battle. And when you look at the history of the Boer than you see right from the start the place which Andries Pretorius, the General who was in command at Blood River at the great battle of Blood River against Dingaan, how he chose the site, the battle site. He even used the river, the Umfolozi River where he put down his laager. I think we are children from the fact and that is one of the reasons why we can never, we must be free men, free people, freedom, independence.

POM     When you talk of freedom did you feel free in the South Africa of Mr. Botha or John Vorster.

ET     The fact is you see, unluckily what happened, the two Boer Republics, actually the three Boer Republics, the Transvaal, the Orange Free State and the northern parts of Natal, those were the Boer Republics recognised by the British government during the Conventions of 1854 and 1852. It never was somebody else's country, never ever, except northern Natal where President Meyer bought those lands between the Umzimvubu and the Umfolozi from King Dinizulu, but they bought it from the Zulu. But the Transvaal and the Free State was open land, it was uncivilised with no, here and there a small black tribe. They fought the Matabele in the Transvaal and the Free State and the Matabele they are the descendants of the Zulus. The Zulus chased them out of Zululand and so Mzilikazi fled with his people to the Transvaal and the Free State, built up his army, at the same time when Potgieter arrived in the Transvaal and the Free State, so they clashed and then in the battles of Kapang and Masika, Potgieter destroyed the Matabele and the Matabele left the Transvaal, they ran, literally ran all the way to Rhodesia where they are still today. We have no Matabele left in the Boer Republics. So the point which I want to make is that we did not steal land from the blacks who are claiming it right now. We fought the Matabele.

POM     Yes, you told me that last time.

ET     I told you that. Now those two Republics are our Republics and maybe I said it last time, those are the sole property of the Boer nation, our nation. I never really was satisfied with the Republics of Verwoerd and John Vorster because that was not the Boer Republics. Our aim was not the four-coloured flag, the flag of the Republic. Lord Milner pushed us in 1910 in the Union of South Africa. But actually what the leaders wanted at that time was the independence of the Boer Republic to become sovereign again after the British war.

POM     Was there any attempt after the National Party came to power in 1948 to try to look for self-determination? Was there any movement in 1948?

ET     Yes, yes. I'm so glad you asked the question. Even as far back as in 1918 Dominee Wolmarans, he was a preacher, with a deputation of Boers went overseas to see Lloyd George trying to get back the independence of the two Boer Republics. The Boer Generals were not interested in a Union of South Africa. In 1948 the National Party under Dr. Malan accepted a motion, well they decided during their congress that the Boer Republics must become independent, as it were, as independent Republics and not the Union of South Africa in a Republic. But in the end it happened that Britain gave us back our independence as the Union, but what happened then is that the Cape Province and Natal, especially the Southern part of Natal, who were not part of the Boer Republics, became then the Republic of South Africa and there came our greatest problem. Then suddenly the politicians who were in a fix how to defend this small minority whites and then they started with the white/black politics and apartheid. So they tried to, with laws, defend the smaller majority white people. Then it was for years the politics of apartheid and the politics between white and black and white and black and not according to international law the rights of each nation.

POM     Why do you think it has been so difficult for the demand of the Boers for self-determination to be taken seriously by the government or by any part of the international community which recognises Lithuania's, who says that even if the ...

ET     Do you mean right now?

POM     Yes. If the Slovenians or the Czechs want autonomy, the international community in general are saying that's fine. Why do you think in your particular situation that all your demands for self-determination since 1948 have simply been ignored, within this country for the most part and abroad?

ET     You see, as I said, unluckily our political leaders, they did the wrong thing by claiming certain rights just because of the fact that they are white. I think I said it to you last time, you cannot claim land because of the colour of your skin. I cannot claim land in South Africa because of the fact that I am white, but so also the ANC cannot claim land, or my land especially, because of the fact that they are black. Only nations can claim and have a just claim on land, on a country. And I know the politicians of the National Party did the wrong thing by claiming certain rights because of the sole fact that they are white people and what is going on right now is even our, the opposition in parliament, Dr. Treurnicht with the biggest right-wing party, he too is still struggling with this idea that he can only claim independence as a nation. But their politics are still filled with apartheid laws and black and white consultation. But in the last year, in the past two years, since I, I started the idea of a people's state, of a 'volkstaat' and that we want as Boers our land back, for the first time the world, through people like you, is for the first time hearing about our claim. The world is realising that we have the same right as the Lithuanias and the Romanias and the eastern bloc people, but not for the whole of South Africa, but now for years I fought alone. Now things are changing very, very fast and even the Conservative Party and Dr. Treurnicht, he now is speaking about a land for the Boer nation again.

POM     I'm going to ask you a series of questions and some of them involve quotes from reports in the media about what you said or surveys or things like that, so before I start I'm going to ask you, do you think you're treated fairly in the media or do you look on an account of something and find for the most part that you think the account is biased and prejudiced or do you think you get a fair shake of the stick?

ET     Well, the press, the liberal press, chose me years ago as somebody which they really want to destroy because my ideas and my views differed with them. I am a Boer and I want back what belongs to me, I am conservative and I do not play the political spectrum the way they want me to. But I always knew that in the end they cannot ignore me and that is exactly what is going on now. We are moving to the top of the Boer and the white man's resistance movement. The Conservative Party are in great problems because I don't think they will have an election, a white election again, so that makes them irrelevant. I don't know how will they function if they will not have the opportunity to take over the government again in a white election.

POM     In Bloemfontein Dr Treurnicht said the other night, he said "What we have in common with the AWB is that we belong to the same people, speak the same language, have the same opponents and enemies and the same ideals to have our fatherland governed by our own people." Now how would you analyse that statement?

ET     Well I think Dr Treurnicht realises that he cannot do anything in politics without the support of the AWB. We are the people, the only people, who can press the government to call an election, the AWB can. The Conservative Party on its own can never do it. And if he will have the image and he definitely needs the support of the AWB. We already, the status quo is that members of the AWB can be members of the CP and CP members are members of the AWB.

POM     The AWB has no political wing per se?

ET     I think what is worrying Dr Treurnicht a little bit is that the AWB are registered as a political party so we can at any time step in a by-election or a general election, put in our candidates. But I never did it in the past, I let my movement be registered as a political party so that, firstly I wanted to legalise it and that was the only way to legalise my movement by registering it as a legal political party.

POM     So did you think the Conservative Party has moved in the last year more in your direction?

ET     Definitely yes. You see I think they realised in the last year or so that nobody will ever try to deny that the AWB are drawing more people during public meetings and rallies than any movement or political party in South Africa. I will at any time, at any place, address two times more supporters, or a bigger audience than the State President himself. Well, last Friday it showed even here, here in Ventersdorp where we had more or less 2000 and they 400. The Minister, Barend du Plessis said they had 1200. If you go back look at the venue of the meeting you have the biggest laugh of the day. It's a whole lot much bigger than these offices and he said he put in that 1200, but even if it was 1200 Mr du Plessis admitted that we were 2000 and I think the Conservative Party realises firstly that we are speaking to the nation, secondly that we really have an alternative for the government's power sharing system which he wants. The Conservative Party realises that they cannot go back to the old apartheid ideas, but it's difficult for them to change because they have to answer to their supporters. They are changing with the times.

POM     Did you find their response to the events of Ventersdorp a satisfactory response?

ET     The CP?

POM     Yes.

ET     Oh yes, I think they there were 300 or so of their people in our crowd of say 2000 and we were grouped together.

POM     I mean, Dr Treurnicht made a number of statements after the shootings.

ET     But you must realise some of the statements were a little bit changed through the press. He came here to Ventersdorp, he addressed a meeting last Monday and it was quite clear that he wants to move nearer to the AWB. He even said that they must quote him on certain things and that he never ever meant that people must go back to the normal public meetings, etc., etc. and not put up a resistance against the National Party etc., etc.

POM     He said he never said that?

ET     No, he said in some ways he was misquoted. But I don't want to speak about other leaders.

POM     But I'm interested in the way political alliances develop. Like you say, you say the CP realises that sitting there in parliament and calling for a by-election is going to get them nowhere and so they've either got to adapt or die. Adaptation really means that they would move more in your direction so that an alliance between the two of you might be able to accomplish your mutual ends.

ET     Well I think his speech in Bloemfontein shows it technically that he knows that he must move nearer to the AWB and try to get their support.

POM     Let's say that the ...

ET     Look what happened in Parys. You know that we had a television interview, me and Minister Barend du Plessis.

POM     I must say I did not have an opportunity to watch it.

ET     OK, but the fact is there he made a few mistakes and one of them was where he dared me to come to a public meeting without arms and without any resistance and to promise that it will be an orderly meeting. So I said, yes I will do it but then if you are demanding democracy during public meetings then we must go right through so you must give me the opportunity to ask questions and even ask the audience to vote for their own chairman because we cannot trust the National Party and their chairmen any more and he fell into it and now on Monday we have that situation. Well this Monday I made a statement where I said that I see that Minister van Niekerk will address a public meeting in Parys, near Potchefstroom, and now I just want to ask the Minister if we can attend this meeting, as a public meeting I will see to it that people will not have any firearms with them but he must realise it will be then a public meeting and that the majority of the meeting will vote for a chairman to see that law and order is there. Now he's in a hell of a problem. He doesn't know what actually to do but unluckily the CP jumped to a negotiation with the NP. The NP asked them to come and see them in Parys and so they decided it will then be an open meeting. The CP will see then that law and order will keep up there, but I don't know now if the National Party will give them the opportunity to vote for a chairman. I'm not sure. The police are coming to see me at half past one today, the Colonel from Bloemfontein, because the AWB are on their way to that meeting.

POM     But they're not carrying firearms this time?

ET     No, we will not carry firearms if we are not confronted by 1500 policemen with firearms, with tear gas, with water canons, and with a hell of a lot of police dogs. And you must realise that they shot at three farmers at Goedgevonden a few months ago and here they killed one of my men by shooting him with a shotgun and so if the police turn up there in force again trying to prevent us to go to the meeting then we cannot give in our firearms.

POM     To go back to what you said about the Conservative Party realising that they would never on their own be able to route the government into holding another election and that they knew that you could put pressure on the government to do so. Could you elaborate on that a little? I mean you could put pressure on the government by the use of ?

ET     Well we will not allow the government again, never ever, to advertise a public meeting, finance that meeting with our taxpayer's money, using our taxpayer's for vehicles to come there, bringing in a thousand or two policemen which we have to pay for and then just decide not to allow us in the hall. You know what they did here, they stopped us before we reached the hall. We did not break up their meeting. We were on our way to a public meeting and so from now on they must open the doors during public meetings and we will be there to ask them questions and even to take over their meetings. That is one way. There are other ways and that is that I am working now very, very near to the different workers' unions, white workers' unions, and I've said it already, I've stated it already, if it is necessary then one day we will strike, we will not go to work. And in South Africa it means not one single mine in South Africa would be able to go on with its work. Not one train in South Africa would be able to move. The labour force of the whites, of the Boer nation, are in such strategic places that we will rock the economy like an atom bomb, like a nuclear bomb.

POM     What if tomorrow morning Mr de Klerk, in the face of this pressure, said he would indeed hold a whites only election and that would satisfy, it would appear to satisfy the demands of the Conservative Party, and let's said he held that election and let's say that he won the election. Let's just say in alliance with the DP, let's say he won it. What then?

ET     Well first I'm absolutely sure he cannot win the next election. Forget about it. He can't win. But if he won the election then he has the mandate to go on with his programme and then what will happen is they will go and sit around the negotiation table, he will try to work out a power sharing political system. The right wing people at such a time will not have the right to do anything because it was the democratic wish of the electorate, but then we will still be preparing ourselves for the oncoming revolution because we know that the ANC is not interested in power sharing. They just want to take over the everything and we know that immediately the ANC will definitely win the election on the one man one vote system, I'm sure of that, the terrorists and the communists did it right through the rest of Africa, win the elections by intimidation and even killing people. But since January up to now the Zulus and the Xhosas in their clashes have killed more than 4000 people. The Zulus will never ever accept the Xhosas as the government, that means the ANC, of South Africa. They will immediately start a war, they will just continue the way which they are already in and the white man will be pressed between these two big groups. Those groups will need the white man's firearms, their homes, to carry on their war. So then we will definitely be in a revolution.

POM     Last year you said that you were moving towards a revolutionary situation and probably would be there in six months after the ...

ET     What was that?

POM     You yourself made statements that the government was in big trouble. My question is, do you consider yourself at war with the government?

ET     Well, we are preparing ourselves for the war. The war which will be created by the government. He is creating a situation in which the ANC will definitely start the revolution.

POM     My question, to be more precise, would be at what point do you think you are entitled to use violence to protect your own interests?

ET     I will never accept violence. It would be very easy to say the moment when the ANC starts the revolution. I'm sure they will start the revolution. I want to put it very clearly to you, I will not accept an ANC government. So if my government is willing to give my republics to the ANC to be governed as a united South Africa by the communists in South Africa, I would use violence that night.

POM     Let's say the government agrees to form an interim government?

ET     No, no, no, no. I said, I said, you see you want me to say things which I do not want to say. I said no, I'm the one who answers the questions. As I said, I will answer them the way I want to do it so please don't answer it for me, ask it from me. I said I will never accept a communist government in South Africa. That night I will start war, I will use violence, yes. And what I said in the past about the revolution and the time of the revolution, I was quite right my good friend. We already have war and revolution. It started with the peace talks of Mr de Klerk. The last time when I saw you, since the last time I saw you, now more than 4000 blacks already died. So if this situation continues it will bring us to a revolution, a full scale revolution.

POM     Just on the black violence of the last twelve months, the ANC, almost from the beginning, have been saying that the government were either supplying arms to Inkatha or the government themselves were participating in it, the object being that the government wanted to weaken the ANC and show the black community that the ANC couldn't protect it from attack and the more they weakened the ANC the better position the government itself would be in negotiations. And then at the revelations around Inkathagate and the government funding of Inkatha, many people were saying that's proof that the government were in fact doing this. From just your own kind of look at what's going on, do you believe that the government has had a hand in this violence, that it has been helping Inkatha, that it may in fact have been sending in its own agents to spark the violence, to keep it going?

ET     I don't think the government was responsible to start with, but then they aided Inkatha and helped them with methods and even with guns, yes I believe that. I believe they used Inkatha to do their bloody dirty work for them and that is why I said right after that situation in Pretoria during a very big public meeting, that Inkatha itself must look again to his friends because his friends he cannot trust. This same government did exactly the same to Renamo in Mozambique. They support them up to a certain point and then they betrayed them. They did the same to Jonas Savimbi in Angola, supported him up to a point and then betrayed him. They did the same in South West Africa by supporting Dirk Mudge, the Turnhalle Alliance as they call it, and then in the end they opened the gates of Sam Nujoma's communists and terrorists, and brought back Sam Nujoma and they handed over South West Africa to SWAPO, the South West People's Organisation.

     And what is happening right in South Africa, in the meantime they are using Inkatha, hoping that Inkatha will win the battle for them, but if it comes to the negotiation of pressure from foreign countries, if the Americans tell them to change their politics against Inkatha and the Zulus they will do it immediately and, what I think they did it already. Now they are moving back and gave Mandela the opportunity to be in the right while they themselves are in the wrong. Now I think Mandela got the opportunity to press that like hell around the negotiation table.

POM     Are there people, some people, internationally, after the Inkathagate revelations, Mr. de Klerk's international stock went down quite a bit, he was no longer this pristine man of integrity and some people have suggested that he used Ventersdorp as a means of boosting his image internationally or showing that here he was quite prepared to take on the right wing and to use force if necessary to show that he was in control of the security forces. Do you buy into that or do you?

ET     No, no, I'm sure, naturally, we believe that the mere fact that the man, that he chose Ventersdorp for a public meeting, for a demonstration of strength means that he came to Ventersdorp knowing that our administrative headquarters is here, that our Commando headquarters is here. I am staying here, so he came to tackle me to show the ANC and the world, as you say, that he will be always honest to his own reform plans. And that is the reason why they so suddenly and deliberately shot our people and used the hardest way of force to stop us even attending his meeting. You know we really did nothing wrong. We organised a public meeting near the City Hall in the open and it was legalised to have that public meeting through the Magistrate here and the City Council. At a certain stage somebody gave me a fax that the Minister is willing to see me now because I sent him a fax in the morning asking to see him, at least that he will allow me and a few men to be present at his meeting. Well they say they sent a fax earlier in the day. The fact is that General Marais, one of my officers gave it to me at quarter past seven and I was speaking at that stage and I looked at the fax and I said, yes, the State President said I can meet the Minister and I am going down right now and we walked a few blocks right into their trap. So that he tried to change the lights of the focus point away from the Inkatha scandal to Ventersdorp and show that he's a strong man trying to impress the Americans and the world and even more the ANC and Mandela. That's absolutely the truth. That's the only reason why he came to Ventersdorp. It's unbelievable. If he wanted to speak to the National Party in Western Transvaal, then the best places to go to are Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp, Rustenburg, Lichtenburg. Klerksdorp even is a city only 50 km from us, Potchefstroom only 50 km from us, Rustenburg only 100 km. But he used Ventersdorp trying to make a point.

POM     I want to go back to part of his response, de Klerk's response, to Inkathagate which was to demote Malan and Vlok. Now I've talked to what are called mainstream, even liberal Afrikaners, and they were stunned. They didn't think he would go that far. Now I know that you said some place that you were sure that he was out of control of his Cabinet. Would it not seem in some way to suggest that he was either in control or not to move towards meeting the ANC's demands in that respect and still keep his Cabinet together? I mean the Cabinet must have voted with him, must have approved.

ET     You see how strange it must sound to you, but Mr de Klerk, he brought around him weak people, people who will go all the way if he says so, except that Malan was a kind of a stubborn bloke himself. Malan was appointed by, he was a PW Botha man and you will remember that right after de Klerk became President a few Ministers immediately left the Cabinet, one was Botha, a Botha from Natal, and they resigned immediately. And the two blokes, the two hard-liners who were left were Vlok and Malan and I knew that at one or another time he will get rid of them and he did.

POM     We were talking about Vlok and Malan and you knew that they were going to moved out of the Cabinet from the time FW took over. Do you think the fact that he was unable to fire them shows that he couldn't rely on the rest of the Cabinet to go along with that decision, that Vlok and Malan still had enough support.

ET     I think he, de Klerk, had the support of the rest of his Cabinet because they are weak, they are small men and they will do anything just to sit there, to stay there. And they know as well that Mr de Klerk is fulfilling the wishes of the Americans. Mr de Klerk himself can never be as strong as it looks if he has to rely on his electorate and his MPs and his Cabinet. He is relying on the Americans and the United Nations. That is why he looks so strong.

POM     Do you ever think that if de Klerk continues with what he calls moving towards a new South Africa that a point might be reached where the military simply say we're not going to go along with this, we're going to step in and stop things and take over?

ET     Well that you will have to work out for yourself. The fact that the man promised his electorate before the last election the opposite for what he is doing right now, he gained his support from the electorate by promising them that the Group Areas Act will stay, that he will not speak to the ANC, that he will never release Mandela, that he will keep the white man's schools as white schools. He promised all those things and for that they voted.

POM     What I'm looking for is that as you analyse the situation and you see de Klerk making moves like getting rid of Vlok and Malan, you must take into account what might be the repercussions in other agencies of the state of these actions. How they will react to it, whether they look on it with a lot of disdain, do the military say, gee, you know we don't like this?

ET     The fact is, especially the fact that you see who de Klerk appoints in their places. People like Hernus Kriel do not know anything about police work, law and order. He's an absolutely lightweight and to appoint a man like him as minister to order around police Generals and their ideas is catastrophic. My friends in the police are stunned by it. And the same with Malan. To take him away and put that boy, I don't think that boy was even a Corporal in the school cadets, as Minister of Defence. I think Mr de Klerk, because of the fact that he has the support of what he thinks the whole world, is not realising the dire straits he is moving in. One or another time if he goes forward with his plans, the more the ANC will claim and to react and be inspired by his weakness, the more the right wing people will realise that if they want, they still want to have anything of sovereignty of fatherland that they must themselves think of other ways.

POM     The National Party is not stupid. They're not stupid, they're men who are used to having political power and it's not in the nature of people who have political power to give it away. What do you think, does the National Party have a strategy? Do they want what they call power sharing where they still would maintain a significant role in government? Or what do you see then as being after? What tactics are they using to get there?

ET     To be very honest with you I don't think I can really answer that question. All I know is that even white colonial governments in Africa at one stage, they also were not stupid. Hand out and sell out the whole civilisation which their people and themselves created and left it in Africa. I think if I, well I try to put it this way, I think that the government do not have the guts any more to fight. They already threw in their handkerchief. I think they decided to capitulate and that I said years ago. At one stage they will capitulate, they are party politicians, and they are not really leaders of their nation and their people driven by honesty and by nationalism. They are just professional political leaders sitting there for the honour of it, for the money of it and when they really have to fight for it and be tackled by the world outside, being unpopular, they cannot withstand the critics and they gave in a few years ago. They committed themselves to things, they compromised with the world. When they put their feet on that way, that road years ago, it was step by step, further from their own people, nearer to the wishes of the international world. They are captured by their own compromises which they did with the liberal world.

POM     I asked you earlier on whether you thought you got a fair shake from the media and I would like to bring up a couple of things you said, the liberal media are unfair, they try to portray you in a certain way. What about the frequent references that are made to the use of what they call neo-Nazi salutes or flags or symbols? Do you resent that comparison?

ET     Oh I see. That is exactly, that's what I said that the liberal press chose me years ago to make me the scapegoat. They tried to make a Nazi of me. They tried to make a kind of a Hitler of me, a dictator, a monster. And that was only because they knew that I am driven not by political reasons but because of the fact that I really do love my country and my people and that I will never share power and that I will try to keep the land, even a smaller piece of land, but which is the richest part of Africa, of the world, in good hands. They see me as enemy number one and now if they can make a Hitler out of me and through that pull the hatred of the world and the bitterness of the Second World War back showing me as the same as Hitler, then they have won their battle. Where was the Nazi salute? What the hell is the Nazi salute? Since I was a boy my father greeted me with the open hand and that is a sure sign that I come in peace and I do not have anything in my hands, look my hand is open, and I don't mind what Hitler did in the past, I stated it very clearly to you last time. I'm not a Nazi, I'm not a racist, I'm a nationalist and what I'm working for and living for is that there must be a reason for my existence as a man and my reason to exist is to stay with my people and to fight for them, to try to defend them, not to be in the end slaves of the communists and the terrorists, to be poor.

     Since we met Mandela announced that he will nationalise our banks, he will confiscate our private property, our farms, cut it up into smaller pieces and then it hand it over to the black people who worked it. That is pure bloody nonsense. But he already declared war on us and, but what I like about it is the fact that even the most liberal parts of the press who saw me as a dictator, must admit now that Mandela was the man who ran to Saddam Hussein, the man who embraced Yasser Arafat, showing that he's nothing else than a terrorist and not a nationalist. No nationalist who loves his own and who does not want to destroy somebody else's country or his sovereignty or misuse it will run to Arafat and to Saddam Hussein and the rest of those people. Where I, I stayed out of it, only fighting and only begging for a chance for my people to be let to govern themselves in their own country like any other nation in the world.

POM     Again on the media, I don't know whether you saw it or not but the Sunday Star last week ran the results of a survey that they did here at Ventersdorp.

ET     That's absolute trash, that's nonsense. What happened there, there's a police investigation going on in Ventersdorp right now. They are arresting my people, officers of my people right now. Now a fool thinking he can make a, what do you call it, a meaning ...?

POM     It was a survey they carried out.

ET     A survey. They can make a survey by phoning people saying we are from so-and-so paper, how do you feel about the AWB and what do you think? Naturally 80% of the people said 'No we don't want the AWB', because the police are investigating charges against our people. That's silly.

POM     So if you said, 'I favour the AWB'?

ET     Then they will take their name and they know their number, their name and their telephone number. Not one, not one single AWB supporter who knows the politics said 'Yes' to them, 'We support the AWB'. They couldn't. Here they arrested at this stage since we sat here, they arrested another two officers of the Commando, the police. This morning. Now. Do you think we will say yes? Not even my brother, he's a General, do you think - well the fact is he's a General now but his wife, if they phoned his wife, she'd never say, 'Yes we support the AWB'. And in spite of it 9% of them said they were supporters. I believe that's only the officers.

POM     There's one thing that I want to clear up. It's a distinction. As I understand you, you're saying that if tomorrow morning a Mandela government comes to power, then at that point you feel justified in taking up arms to defend your people and to fight for your territory.

ET     Yes. I will. Yes.

POM     Now that's one statement there. The other, this is my statement, that if you look at the PLO they will say that they have taken up arms to fight a Jewish state in order to get back lands that belonged to them from antiquity. If you look at the IRA, the IRA will say that they have taken up arms in order to get the British occupation of Ireland ended which has lasted for 800 years. If you look at UNITA, the same thing. So what would be the difference between that situation?

ET     The difference is we are Boer people. We fought your nation. Your nation even killed and maimed 27 000 women and children. We fought the might of the British world at that time, not Britain only, the British world, the British Commonwealth. We fought them and we fought them until we succeeded. We fought them at three times, the last time by killing our women and children. We didn't succeed. That is the difference. I'm not Irish and I'm not PLO of Arafat.

POM     I'm not saying you were.

ET     Well, you ask what's the difference?

POM     No, no, no.

ET     You ask what is the difference? That is the difference.

POM     I'm saying, if they use arms to fight for their fatherland.

ET     Yes.

POM     And you use arms to fight for your fatherland.

ET     Yes.

POM     And you both believe that if you feel occupied, if you feel under the heel of another nation.

ET     So what you want to make for me, you want to make me a terrorist?

POM     No I do not want to make you a terrorist.

ET     Yes, yes. So the day when I take up arms then I will be a terrorist. No my friend, then I will be a freedom fighter. These terrorists who are now called freedom fighters, they are the terrorists. They took arms fifteen years ago up against my people and they press this weak government now to the negotiation table. That is the difference. Yes. That is the difference. The ANC started the war against our people by killing innocent women and children through the years. They already started the war and the day when my weak government will give my country and our sovereignty to them, then I will take up arms as a freedom fighter and not as a terrorist. And that's the difference. How can you, how can you compare me with Arafat?

POM     No, no. I'm not comparing you.

ET     The other thing. Let me ask you this, why don't the so-called free world ask Yasser Arafat and the Jews to share power in one united kingdom? You will say that's madness. But in the meantime the United Nations and my government and the liberals of the world want me to share power with terrorists, with ANC terrorists there. There are no differences between the ANC terrorists and the PLO terrorists.

POM     Let's get one thing clear. I didn't call you a terrorist. I never even mentioned the word terrorist. Two, that in Ireland ...

ET     I see, I see the way your argument is going.

POM     In Ireland our state was founded by people who took up arms to fight a colonial power.

ET     Yes. And I can understand it. I can understand that.

POM     And I was raised on their history of what they did and they weren't called terrorists, they were called freedom fighters because that's what they did.

ET     But in the end now they are calling the people in the Irish Republic terrorists.

POM     Only among some people, other people would not call them that at all.

ET     Why they do not succeed in their struggle, only one reason, and that is they have to fight their own people, proud people, military people. When we have to start this war we'll fight the ANC terrorists which we destroyed years ago. They were in the end, the end of their campaign. They were on their last legs when de Klerk betrayed our people. The ANC couldn't do anything in South Africa. We win all the wars against them. We win the wars in the bushes, we win the wars in the streets, in the cities, but de Klerk betrayed us at a time when the ANC terrorists were finished. The cherry on the cake was when communism itself fell apart in Eastern Europe so that their money support dried up totally. And that stage Mr de Klerk and his American friends betrayed his own people and he legalised the South African Communist Party when it was even by the world not seen as a factor any more.

POM     Last year you said something interesting. You said that communism wasn't dead, it was just the economic system that was dead. Could you elaborate a little on that?

ET     You saw it right now. I think I said as long as there is a Satan in hell communism will stay. And that is exactly what happened last week. Communism will never be dead and that's why they try to make a comeback and if Gorbachev and Yeltsin will not succeed in a very, very short time and change that economic situation in Russia, you can be sure that the communists will definitely take over this year. Again, they will come back with it.

POM     Final question. Thanks for the time. When I come back, say this time next year, where do you think things will be, just as you peer into, look into the future.

ET     Either in the Union Buildings you'll find me or some place in the bushes fighting a bitter battle my good friend. I'll try to fly you in there.

POM     OK. Thanks very much for the time.

ET     If de Klerk will not give us an election then we are heading for trouble. It's as simple as that.

POM     This copy I'll leave with you.

ET     Where will you be at the 10th/11th October?

POM     I'll be teaching, back in Boston.

ET     Because then we'll have our conference.

POM     Do you have a mailing list that you send to people, but it all comes in Afrikaans?

ET     Yes. So you'll have somebody to translate it. You know what I think. Ask Mr. van der Westhuizen's telephone number and address. The lady will give it to you in front and he's responsible for our newspaper and you contact him personally and ask him to show you some interesting story.

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.