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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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 Jan 1992: Botha, Louis
POM Colonel, I would be remiss if I didn't put a question to you in some way about Inkathagate since it occupied such a large part of the news here last summer. The first question is really kind of personal, what kind of impact did it have on your own life? You were a professional policeman and suddenly your photograph was on the front page of every newspaper and sometimes even in circles on photographs when you were with other people. It must have put enormous pressures on you as a person, on your family?
LB Well first of all Mr O'Malley, personally, this may seem strange, I didn't take much pressure. I didn't experience much pressure. There was obviously pressure to write reports for different ministers over different issues but that was the only type of pressure. My family didn't take any pressure because my family and my work are separated. I have always, throughout my years in the force, tried to separate the two. So personally, no, I didn't take much pressure. I mean my hand is still steady.
POM What was the rationale for the need to help Inkatha at that time?
LB It's one of those questions which I'm afraid I can't answer, the issue around Inkatha, so-called Inkathagate, I won't be able to answer much on that. There are obvious reasons. It's a very sensitive issue and there's been sort of a block placed on any interview over the whole issue.
POM Let me turn to something we had when I interviewed you last August 12 months, the violence on the Reef had just begun and since that time you've had again the accusations by the ANC that it was Inkatha with the support of the SAP. Then you had Mandela's statements over the last several months, over the last year, suggesting government complicity and then you had the talk of rogue elements in the security forces doing it on their own, and then you had again allegations by The Weekly Mail of security force involvement with the training of Inkatha units. What is your assessment at the manner in which violence has developed over the last 18 months and what are the probable factors?
LB Well you've posed quite a few questions there together. If one can take them bit by bit I think it will be easier to dispose of. First of all as far as the military's involvement is concerned, I can't pass any comment whatsoever. I'm glad you used the word the 'allegations' by The Weekly Mail because as far as I'm concerned it is only allegations, but over their involvement or alleged involvement I can't pass any comments. Over involvement by rogue elements within the South African Police, yes there have been rogue elements within the South African Police that have been involved.
POM You had just talked about the rogue elements.
LB If one looks at the rogue elements within the South African Police, yes there have been rogue elements. If one looks at the Trust Feed case in Maritzburg, and there was recently another case I think in Pinetown where policemen have been arrested, a lot of policemen have been arrested. That is the official policy. Official policy is to arrest those people when there is sufficient evidence, but that this is an official policy on the part of the police force or the government, that is not so. I know that the ANC and certain elements within the ANC try to construe it as if it is an official policy of the police or the government to use the police force, that is not so. But, again, as I said earlier on, there are rogue elements. We try and weed them out whenever we come across them. Look at the cases that are in court at the moment. There are several policemen who have been charged but unfortunately this is what happens. Now what their effects are on the violence it's very difficult to say because one has deaths, the police are blamed for it and then some of the families that have suffered obviously are going to attack policemen at a later stage or have a negative influence on them. So it is one of the elements that actually contribute towards violence but one of the lesser elements because there are far greater elements around as well taken globally in South Africa than this rogue element in the police force which is only really a small percentage. If one looks at the amount of policemen who come into contact daily with the black people and daily people, blacks, Indians, whites, Coloureds, are helped by the police, shall we say the unsung heroes, because you don't see that being advertised. You don't see that in the media as often as the negative aspect which is the rogue element that is newsworthy so greater emphasis is placed thereon. What was the other?
POM Mandela's allegations regarding the government complicity?
LB The government complicity. The same applies there in the sense that Mr Mandela and the ANC have been asked on numerous occasions to come forth with evidence. When I say evidence we are asking just a guide to start with the investigation, to assist with the investigation. It's no good saying there's a housebreaking in PE, but not indicating where the house is. The same applies here. Point out where so that the police can start investigating. And if there are people involved they will be brought to Court. It is interesting to note that the newspapers over the last six months, and I will certainly fax some copies through to you, the editorials of newspapers like The Daily News in Natal, the Sunday Tribune in Natal mainly and The Sunday Times up in the Transvaal and The Weekly Mail as well. I've got copies of The Weekly Mail where the ANC's persistent and continual accusations that the police force are behind the unrest is being questioned and questioned severely, not just sort of, oh don't always say this. And I'm not relying on the media to prove my point but this is the debate that's going on. They are shouting wolf too often.
POM What's going on here? I mean who, where, who's the responsible party for the violence?
LB For the violence? Well, Professor, you know it's one of those things that if you could answer, the person who can not only answer it, decide that, is one of the most difficult and complex questions. If one can leave South Africa, just for a second, and go to Ireland, Ireland's violence has gone on over many, many years and the real causes behind it you actually start losing as time goes by. Now coming back to South Africa this is also happening here. You can talk to some people and all they can say to you is "Oh I'm involved in this because my brother was killed", but he doesn't go further than the brother. He doesn't go to the politics behind it. And people tend to forget that the ANC with, as I put in the piece here, it was their policy to make the country ungovernable and that is my departure point. The state contributed in this sense with the apartheid policy, the government has acknowledged that, with their laws. Some of the government ministers have apologised for the hurt they've caused. I'm thinking of Minister Leon Wessels, they have actually apologised. But apologies aren't going to help. We're sitting with the problem. The problem being that this unrest has dragged on outside and plus their accusations, there are other issues involved. There are other issues, unemployment, lack of facilities, lack of comfort, lack of food, shelter, that type of thing. These are all contributing towards the violence. So to find the single cause of violence is not going to be easy and to solve it is going to be very difficult.
POM In whose interest ...?
LB I don't think it's in anybody's interest really to continue with violence. I'm showing you a newspaper cutting here, The Sunday Tribune one, which says that the ANC claims, and this is dated 5th May 1991 editorial, the ANC correctly claims that it has lost the most in the violence that has seized the country since February last year, last year being 1991. I think that is so too. They have suffered grievously. But you reap what you sow. That is my approach.POM On the other side you have right wing violence.
LB Yes, we have right wing violence.
POM How serious a matter is right wing violence?
LB Unless you're very careful with the right wing violence it is very serious. Very serious in the sense that the right wing have access to people who have either been in the defence force or in the police or who are still serving in the defence force or are still serving in the police force. The defence force and the police force have, over this issue, taken certain steps to minimise or to rid them of those elements. But what I'm saying is that there's a degree of sophistication on the right which is absent in the left. And therein lies the danger.
POM How would you compare say, the threat of right wing violence with what had been the armed struggle phase of the ANC campaign?
LB Let's look at the armed struggle of the ANC's campaign. Over the years they've virtually been a zero on the contract. They have been glorified, made out to be romantic figures but in actual fact if you go down and look at the specifics, apart from some severe damage which they caused over a certain period there was very little that they did. But there was a potential threat, conceded. Now if one goes to the right wing the danger that they hold coupled with their sophistication, therein lies a problem. But to weigh the two up against each other is very difficult. You're going to have to suck out your thumb, and again if you speak to a man on the right wing he's going to emphasise the greater danger on the right. You speak to a man on the left he's going to emphasise and say, "Oh, oh, there's a bigger danger from the left wing." But I'm sitting in the middle and we have to bring both parties to book where they've committed the violence. In the last while, as I'm sure you've seen in the papers, there have been numerous arrests of right wing people who have committed sabotage or whatever.
POM My next question, and you may have partially answered it, is that it seems to me that the security forces were fairly effective both in infiltrating the ANC or through the use of informants finding out what was going on, and is it more difficult to infiltrate or to find out, to use informants with regard to the right wing?
LB Let us put it this way. The left wing, or then the ANC if one wants to put them in the left wing, has always been far easier to infiltrate, the reason being that the line of communication is much longer. You will find prior to the unbanning of the ANC the leadership in the MK were abroad. So if a person, the MK member, whoever came in, came into the country it was fairly easy for us to get across that line, you understand? And infiltration into their own camps or into their own set up was quite easy for us, especially if the person was far removed from you, far removed from you in this sense that he is not here he is overseas, far away. The right wing are in our midst and they operate on a tighter cell system. There's very little communication between them. So there's no going abroad, it's much more difficult to infiltrate the right wing. But in spite of that if one goes back to the offences they have committed over the last couple of years we've had a very, very high success rate. I think it's somewhere in the region of 90% - 95%, where the right wing have committed crimes and we have solved them. And those that haven't been solved are on the point of being solved.
POM This goes back to something that we talked about the last time and it's again related to the question of violence and of there being a large element of an ethnic dimension to the violence between the Xhosas of the ANC and supporters of Inkatha. Now one sees in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union that with the collapse of totalitarian communism these ethnic tensions that have been suppressed began to come to the fore. Do you think that ethnic tensions that were suppressed under apartheid, now that apartheid is lifted or in the process of being lifted, are beginning to surface in a way that could pose potential problems in future?
LB No, I don't think apartheid suppressed the ethnic differences very greatly. Some people may agree, some may not but as far as I'm concerned it didn't really suppress that. That's always been there. If one goes to the sort of ethnic squabbles, if one wants to call it that, between the Zulu and Xhosa, it has over 200 years history. It goes back many years. In fact Dr Mandela actually warned of this. Unfortunately I didn't bring the paper cuttings to you. If I had known you were going to ask a question like that I would certainly brought it. If you have time we can go back to me office and I'll pick it up for you and you can see it, where he actually warns of ethnicity and ignoring ethnicity because prior to this Dr Mandela and the ANC didn't want to acknowledge ethnicity. It was one nation.
Now I personally have always been slightly doubtful about this one nation because I know that there are strong ethnic differences amongst the tribes and one only has to go again to Europe, look at the ethnic differences and the problems that they have even today. The German and the Frenchman may talk very friendly to each other but if you catch them in private there's a sharp dig at each other. The same with the Dutchman, the Belgian. If one goes to Britain the Englishman and the Irishman or the Scotsman. There is the ethnic difference. Coming back to us, this ethnicity has always existed and each one is very proud of his own and they're very scared of dominance by another group, which is what's happening in Europe as well. And the Zulu being the largest ethnic group by far, and here I'm referring to the Xhosas, they feel particularly threatened by this issue, by the Xhosa, by the ANC.
POM Again when we talked in 1990, it was just after the Pretoria Minute had been signed, and I recall you saying that there were monitoring structures being set up that would have been composed both of members of the ANC and Inkatha and the police. Were those structures ever set up?
LB Yes. In fact I foresaw a question like that and I actually took the liberty to bring some literature on the issue. Yes, there have been various structures set up, very successfully in some cases. Just before I left Natal they set up the Regional Dispute Resolution Committee.
POM This was under the National Peace Accord?
LB That's in terms of the National Peace Accord and then the Local Dispute Resolution committees. It's like a formal agreement which is here and it sets out the duties of the various - there it is there page 27, "The duties of the Regional Dispute Resolution Committee shall include the following", and then it gives you the whole set up. And then there's the Local Dispute Resolution Committee and the Justices of Peace and what they must do. Yes that has been set up. In some areas it hasn't been so fast. I can't talk for the Eastern Cape because I'm not sure of what the set up is yet but I seem to recall in the last couple of days hearing that it has been set up here. I've only been here 4 or 5 days at the office. But in Natal, yes, it has been set up and I know that before I left there that some use has been made of that particular committee. Now at a lower level, all over Natal, committees have been set up in terms of their various limits so that these things can be attended. Let us go to Brandville, there's a little committee there.
POM It would be composed of a member of the ...?
LB Of the police, of the SAP, of Inkatha, of the ANC and any other interested parties because one must be very careful in saying Inkatha the whole time because in the Eastern Cape there's no Inkatha. Down in the Western Cape there's no Inkatha. But coming back to Natal, yes, it would be mainly Inkatha and ANC.
POM But these structures that have been set up after the Pretoria Minute and the National Peace Accord were more the initiative of the other parties than the - what happened?
LB With the unrest continuing there was a reluctance on the part of one or other of the two parties, the two parties being the ANC and Inkatha, to sit round one table. In certain areas they would sit round the table and the area next door there may be unrest or a particular violence that flared up overnight and then for the next couple of weeks the two parties wouldn't sit together and then with a bit of coaxing and a bit of pressure they'd come together at a later stage. So, yes, it is early days there, but it seems to be working.
POM Again, you've just read from an editorial there in the Sunday Times which said that the ANC had lost most from the violence of the last year. Do you discern the ANC having a strategy, that one knows their objective. Their objective is a non-racial, democratic, unitary South African state. Can you look at where they were at the time of the signing of the Pretoria Minute and trace a cohesive strategy towards bringing that about or were they not in control of events?
LB No, they're not in control of events. Again I'm not a big sociologist or a political scientist, but I can state, looking at the circumstances, that they're not in control of the situation. And I will use then newspaper editorials to support what I'm saying. Just as when you interviewed me in August 1990, I have given you editorials now which were printed subsequently and supported that point of view that I gave you there. Yes, they're not in control of certain events, that's got out of control. Out of control in the sense that the youth seem to have hijacked it and they're running with it. And this is where the unemployment comes in because if a man is desperate, whichever side promises more to him he will flock to that. I know that down in East London there are numerous ANC youth who are going across to the PAC because of the more militant attitude and the greater promise by the PAC of future redistribution than the ANC. So the people are flying across there. When I say flying across there, they're moving across in large numbers. Now when you say to me, 'large numbers - define', I can't because I'm new in the Eastern Cape and I first have to go and do my homework. Otherwise I'm going to come a cropper, but yes I heard some figures on Tuesday morning at an official meeting which indicated there was a movement of ANC youth, particularly in the East London Area, to the PAC. And it is these youths, bearing in mind that amongst the blacks the youths form the greater part of the population, that seems to be moving across. And they seem to be controlling, pulling the controlling string. Then there are factors like unemployment, people are hungry, gangs, just criminal gangs, these are also factors contributing.
POM Do you think there was an element that when Mandela came out of jail that one of the assumptions made was that he would be able to deliver the black community in its entirety?
LB Yes. One of the big problems that we're sitting with is high expectations. And in one of these newspaper cuttings here too, I'll mark it out, they talk about the high expectations which have been created by the ANC over the years and the black man's expectations that when Dr Mandela comes out of jail he will find himself in a better position overnight with a sympathetic media it would appear that this would in fact occur. But the reality is that it has not occurred and that has been a problem. Couple this with the high degree of intolerance in South Africa, as elsewhere in the world when you get to extremes you don't want to tolerate the other man's point of view, and unfortunately this has manifested itself here especially amongst the warring factions. They don't want to tolerate the other man's point of view.
The ANC recently published a document on the media, like a media Charter and Ken Owen of the Sunday Times last Sunday passed a beautiful comment on it and I think it's worth laying your hands on it and reading it. It's Ken Owen passing comments on the media policy of the ANC and what he says in there is so true. The ANC, if you read it objectively, you will see the ANC are very good democrats when it suits them. The ANC are supporters of a free media in this case when it suits them, and it's very clearly stated there in this document how they want to manipulate and control the media. And this is what Ken Owen points out. So it's worth reading.
POM Talking about the media for a moment, what comes across to me again and again in talking with people in the townships is their distrust of the SAP, still the feeling of being easily intimidated by them or, again, on the fact that people easily believe that the police are somehow orchestrating the violence or are somehow complicit in it. I mean it's pervasive to the point of where it's become its own reality. Two questions, one, are the people aware of the fact that it has a very severe problem in this regard?
LB Image problem. Yes, we are very aware of it.
POM Two, what is it doing to try to ameliorate the problem? And the third part of the question relates to something in the future rather than in the present.
LB Let's come back to that second one. First of all we are aware of it, we are very aware of it and it is causing great problems for us. What are we doing to remove this? First of all it must be borne in mind that up to 1990 when President de Klerk, just prior and just after that, lifted the so-called apartheid legislation, and even going back further, we were used to enforce certain legislation so that made us political in that sense. As a result of this a mistrust has taken root amongst the black people, I don't blame them, that is a fact that we're sitting with. We have to try and rectify this. With the State President removing this legislation which we had to enforced we were able to start bridging some of it but now it becomes politics, politics in this sense that there are groups of people within the ANC or within the left wing that don't want to see a normalisation of relations between the public and the police. It is to their advantage if it keeps going like that because they now want to control the townships if they can keep us out and this is one way of keeping us out, is to make sure that this mistrust continues, witness the continual negative printing, reports that appear in some of the, there's a special name for the media, the grassroots media or the, not the mainstream media, the alternative media, because the alternative media never has anything good to say of the police force. It's 'afbrekend', they continually try and destroy the image. And that is the media that is easily obtainable and also read and understood by the blacks. So that compounds the problem.
Now we're sitting with a big problem there. One of the ways to counter this is to be seen to be doing more effective policing and this is one thing that we're trying to do at the moment. Special courses that have been implemented, instructions that have come down, we are watching the junior people, trying to give them leadership as far as that issue is concerned. It's going to take a long time. It's not like electric light. As much I like to see it like electric light, switch on switch off switch on, in other words we accept it, it's not going to happen. Bear in mind that the apartheid legislation goes way back to 1948, so there's many years, people have grown up, generations have grown up. It's going to take a long time. This has been, unfortunately, the image has been further dented by the rogue elements which we spoke of earlier. But then witness again the police force, the SAP themselves, have arrested these people, their own members, and taken them to court.
POM Why hasn't that received more publicity? I mean I'm sure the police have a Publicity Department?
LB Yes we have a Publicity Department but we have no control over the media to publish it and this is where democracy plays a role, because it's the democratic right of the newspapers not to publish it. But if you're objective and you do the reporting of the cases you will find that when there is something dramatic about anti-police occurring at the trial it's blown up, but if something pro-police comes out it's on the second or third page. So one sits with that problem in the main media as well.
POM In the main media. Do you have a Communications Department, or whatever it's called, that would go round to the editors of the media?
LB Oh yes, one hundred percent. And each big division, like in PE we've got Colonel de Beer who's in charge here, in Durban we've got a Colonel as well and he's aided by several other members and they approach the editors and I have actually stood next to them on occasions where they have faxed reports through to either SAPA or one of the editors over a specific issue that you don't even recognise the story when you see it in the paper. It's completely watered down. I realise that our way of writing and the newspapers way of writing is not the same. Thank heavens, otherwise it would be very staid and dry. But there's very little resemblance to the actual story. I've found this particularly in the so-called Inkathagate where I saw this happen on several occasions.
POM When you talk about elements within the ANC wanting to maintain this suspicion and distrust of the people in the townships against the police, were you talking about elements in the leadership that would be in the National Executive?
LB No, no, not the National Executive.
POM You're talking about elements in the?
LB In the townships, on the ground, because he now has a certain status, certain power which if things were to become normal he would not normally have. So he feels threatened. That was one element. Then there's the other element where (I've got to be very careful how I word this), it's not necessarily an ANC man, but an ANC supporter, or a sympathiser, where through crime he maintains a certain position. And while this is going on the police cannot attend to the crime, they have to attend to the unrest. So while this is going on he doesn't have to work, or there is no work, so he has to manipulate to keep this going. It's very cynical but this is what's actually happening.
POM And the last part of that question was in relation to elections which will be taking place some time, whether it's this year, next year or the year after, but certainly sometime.
LB Yes, well it has to take place within the next two or three years.
POM And the fact that the ANC for one, and many other non-governmental organisations here would make the case that elections couldn't be free and fair if they were under the supervision of the SAP.
LB Which elections first of all? Sorry, let's differentiate. There's two lots of elections which have to take place here. Can I just put it this way, there's an election which the State President and the ministers have promised over a period because whether we like it or not, whether anybody likes it or not, there is a government and if one goes for orderliness one will see that this government has got to vote again. And when I say the government it is more the whites, which excludes the blacks. That group of whites will have to vote again one way or another, and the question was posed, what happens if they vote against it? That's when a problem could be expected. But one would hope, sincerely, that they would have seen the light when it comes round to voting that there's no going back, that we have to go forward. That is the one election. Is that the one you're referring to?
POM No I'm talking about the election after that. The first election in which blacks vote, in one way or another they go to the polling booths for the first time to vote on something and the ANC and non-government or civic organisations will make the case that ...
LB So-called democratic organisations.
POM - that these elections can't be free and fair if the SAP are there to maintain law and order because of the suspicions of blacks, because of the way they feel intimidated by the police because of any number of things. And I want to relate that to a transition government in the works in one way or another, like today we don't know how but ...
LB It's one of those things which through negotiation the political parties will have to come to some type of agreement. I'm not a politician, I don't know which way the government or the Nationalist Party, or the ANC, or Inkatha, are going to play this one, because at the moment it's basically talks about talks. They haven't really got going. They've started. One will see after CODESA 2. Will the government permit people from outside to monitor elections? I don't know. I've got no idea there at all. That is a political issue which politicians will have to resolve one way or other.
POM What about some form of transition in the works, and I assume there are forms of transition?
LB You're talking of the interim government?
POM An interim government, that there will be some movement to integrate the SAP with elements in the MK. My question here is, do you think the armed struggle is over? In 1990 you had a big question mark.
LB I still have a big question mark and here's Chris Hani as recently as March last year, Daily News, uMkhonto weSizwe threat to resume armed struggle, and they are continually harping on this, that they are on the verge of resuming or wanting to resume because their training is still going on. There are uMkhonto people still being trained abroad and being trained here.
POM So your operating assumption is that the threat of a renewed armed struggle is in fact a real threat?
LB Well the issue of private armies makes that a threat, yes. That makes it a threat, because if one has private armies running round here, the ANC having a private army, the AWB, the Boerevolk, then that is a recipe for disaster. One only has to look at Ireland with only two or three little groups, each one very powerful, to see the type of situation. So you will want to clean those people, not physically wipe them off the board, but to take the base away from them altogether.
POM So if there were moves to some way, I mean if the ANC says it's a part of the interim governmental arrangements, we would have to play a much larger role in the security arrangements of the country which would involve some of our membership being trained as policemen or whatever?
LB They'd have to be trained. You see once you get trained as a policeman I've got no problem with them working, but I certainly have a problem with them coming straight off the straight. And the mere fact that he's an MK member or that he's an ANC sympathiser or supporter, that he then joins the police force and then becomes a policeman, because the danger that you have here is that just as they accuse us of having a bias towards the government, you could have a bias then towards the ANC. Then you'd have one command structure and two groups that have been artificially put together. That is also a recipe for disaster. You see you've got to be apolitical here. Whether the ANC accepts it or not, or whether anybody accepts it, this is unfortunately the stance, or fortunately the stance we're going to have to adopt or have adopted.
POM So you would say that's fine but there are some pre-conditions.
LB There are some pre-conditions, yes. Because for a start, if I can use it like this Professor, there was a Professor from Canada a little while ago, I've forgotten his name, and there have been subsequent calls by various other people, as far as affirmative action is concerned. Now affirmative action hasn't really worked in America. A little while ago there was a debate on TV between an American Professor and an ANC man and one of the South Africans went over affirmative action, there was quite a bit of heat generated by it and I found the American Professor's attitude very interesting (unfortunately his name has slipped me but I'm sure with a bit of research I can get his name) as to the affirmative action in America. But now let's get back to this, to affirmation action, I don't want to digress too far.
Affirmative action in the police force, that again spells disaster in this sense that it takes quite a while for a policeman to be trained, six months to a year. Once he comes out he's ill-equipped, he may be well equipped in theory but ill-equipped in experience to deal with the situation on the ground, especially the situation as it has manifested itself now. It's going to take a while for those people to get going, so the sooner, if any of them are going to be taken on, the sooner they get taken up in the police force the better because they must start being trained on the job so to speak. Affirmative action definitely has a problem because it implies that you bring the man in and excellence, the ability to serve or the ability to produce doesn't figure here. You're just being appointed because of the colour your skin. That doesn't work.
POM So the police would oppose that?
LB Well I don't say the police would oppose it. We would certainly, I am sure. You see it's a very difficult question to answer because the Commissioner, you'd have to bounce that off him, but I'm positive that ...
POM Departmental ... as far as you know the attitude of ...?
LB Well if they go through the training, yes. But you must be trained. I mean you can't take an untrained person just as a garage is going to insist on the man having done a apprenticeship before he takes him on, just as a doctor has to do an internship, he has to do training plus an internship before he gets accepted. You have to do a training session, surely, and then come in.
POM If former members of the MK were willing to go through that training, would that be acceptable?
LB If that is the government's policy, yes, I accept it completely, whichever government is in power. I've got no difficulty with that. And I look you straight in the eye and I say that because I said to you last time I spoke to you, we don't formulate policy, we execute policy, and if that is what the policy is we will execute it.
POM Now if there is armed struggle or the threat of armed struggle, what's the purpose in connection with the role of the SACP? Since last we talked all of Eastern Europe, communism as we have known it, has collapsed. The Soviet Union has disintegrated, so the threat of the total onslaught is no longer there. What fills the vacuum? What are the dangers that you now guard against? What are the dangers that are looming in the future?
LB Well first of all as far as the police force is concerned, and again I must be careful because I can't speak on behalf of the Commissioner, but the senior officers, top officers and the Commissioner has made this known often enough, crime is one of our biggest problems because crime is getting out of hand in this country and there are some horrific statistics. That is our priority, crime. Unrest of course forms part of crime because it is a crime so I am including that. That is our priority.
POM Where do you see the SACP?
LB All right, your question. The SACP, one must bear in mind, is a legitimate party. It's unbanned, it can participate in normal political life. But a Communist Party, anywhere in the world, history has proved that you can't trust them and I'm very wary of them because they promise the greatest and if one looks at our Communist Party here, they promise, and nowhere else has the Communist Party ever been able to deliver. And the same is going to happen here. They're being promised and the minute they can't deliver you're going to have an upsurge in violence, be it against the Communist Party or be it amongst themselves I don't know, but you will definitely have an upsurge. High expectations and expectations aren't being fulfilled, that is a problem.
POM So you still think that the SACP is committed to becoming part of the government or forming a government?
LB Well, they would like to form part of the government, yes. That is obvious. And the ANC and the Communist Party are very closely intertwined.
POM Can I go back to something you raised and I let go by, and that is the threat of the right wing and support for the Conservative Party. Now many people believe that if you had an election tomorrow morning, a whites-only election, that the Conservative Party might stand a fifty-fifty chance of getting a majority of the white vote. At the same time you have an increasing propensity for the Conservative Party to associate itself loosely with elements in the right wing like the AWB, which resort to violence. Many people, I think you mentioned it yourself, I'm not sure that the context is right, but many people tell me that in the lower ranks of the police force, among ordinary policemen, there's probably a lot of support for the Conservative Party. That you have this mix of the policeman as a professional and the policeman who has a political opinion, and the political opinion and the requirements of the job often come into conflict with each other. How do you monitor, again, is it regarded in the leadership ranks as a problem or a fantasy? Is it regarded as a serious problem again, are there monitoring mechanisms in place?
LB Yes, in the police force we watch that very carefully, Professor. We watch that very carefully. The Commissioner and the Regional Commissioners, not appointed officially, but there are people watching specifically for that. And where it manifests itself, it comes to our attention, it's attended to immediately because we can't go back to the old style. Old style where some members expressed far right leanings or far left leanings, because everybody's concentrating on the right wing and beginning to forget that there are members in the police force, being human beings, that also express support for the left. The minute you do that you have a problem. And you've got to try and get that away, but bear in mind that you're working with people and it's not that easy. You can go to any police force throughout the world and you'll have the same problem. But we are looking at that and the Commissioner by way of lectures, by way of discussions and seminars, we are trying to eliminate that. It's not an overnight process.
POM I want to relate this to the policy of APLA, the PAC's armed wing, regarding the assassination of policemen, it's not just policemen it's really white policemen and it's explicit. What kind of a problem is this posing both internally in terms of the manner in which it is being handled by the police themselves and what's it's potential explosiveness?
LB If one looks at the first 16 days of this year, nine policemen were killed. I have some figures here. I thought I had it here, but in the first 16 days of this year nine policemen were killed and something like 150 plus/minus were killed last year. And that's not by APLA last year, just generally on duties. It has a demoralising effect on the policemen because the policemen that were killed most recently by APLA in the Transvaal were people that were attending complaints, complaints in that there's a problem at the house, you arrive at the house and as you arrive you get shot. Or you're sitting in your van driving past having been called to the scene and you get shot, you know that type of action. So your level of service declines with this because the member won't be so keen to get to the point of where the disturbance is or the complaint is, so it has that effect. But there is a new strategy being planned and it will be announced fairly shortly. At Saldanha Bay the other day the minister and the top structure of the police force had meetings with the media and they announced certain strategies which were being implemented and we see the effect already. As far as training is concerned, the type of weapons is concerned, bullet proof vests, where the members will feel a little bit more secure in attending the complaints. So that has a potential of causing greater stress on the police force. The policeman that feels stressed, there's medical treatment available for them. But it's like any police force in the world, a policeman has a particular type of stress.
POM When you talk about crimes emerging as the major problem facing the police, I saw an article in Boston a couple of months ago that said Johannesburg had the highest crime rate of any city in the world. Now I assume this meant Johannesburg plus Soweto, plus the area as a whole, it didn't make sense, it's probably the same here but I'm more familiar with Johannesburg, if you go into the suburbs every house has security alarms installed, barbed wire and the papers are full every day of crimes. Why do you think the crime level is so high?
LB Part of can be directly attributed to people not having work, unemployment. The squatters which surround the towns. There's always been this danger of if you have a formal township and on the border of it you have massive groups of unemployment, unemployed people, or people living in poor conditions, that they will jump across the wire so to speak to go and get from those that have. And this is not a phenomena restricted to South Africa. This happens anywhere in the world. Only here there are other complicating factors involved, there's politics, that type of thing. There's black/white politics, there's ANC/Inkatha politics or the ANC/PAC politics. So that has contributed to the violence. Sanctions have contributed to it. Lack of economic growth has contributed to it. People with no future vision, the youth, haven't been at school because of a liberation now education later call. These are contributing factors.
POM Last year you gave a very comprehensive kind of analysis of how you saw the situation, particularly with regard to the security aspects of it. Now 18 months later how do you either modify or re-characterise parts of your own analysis?
LB Well if one looks at the figures for crime, there has been a dramatic increase in crime, dramatic, in some areas. Now again if I'd known you were going to ask specifically on that I could have got accurate figures for you, so I'm not in possession of accurate figures, but I'm just looking at some of the figures in the area where we are now, PE, and there's been quite an increase. In some cases 3000, in some cases almost 7000 over the previous year. Now this is serious crime. But then one must bear in mind that there's been a vast increase in numbers of squatters as well. The unemployment figures have increased. One hears of firms closing down daily. One sees sequestrations, one sees liquidations daily taking place. So these are people, they've got to live somehow so they turn to crime. There's no other way they can survive. How can you live? The only way you can live is from the man over there who has got, I must go and take from him. That is a negative aspect. But how it bodes for the future, that bodes well for the future if it continues at that rate. I think this is why the government is so desperate trying to turn the economy around, to try and get the economy booming, to give these people a future vision, a hope, a job, because then the crime rate will drop. The police force can only do so much, we can only attend to the crimes, reactive, proactive by placing more policemen in the area, but that's not the long term solution. The long term solution is to give the people work so that they can earn a living and become proud of what they've got and strive to obtain more, real capitalist system.
POM I was talking more in the sense of you gave a comprehensive analysis of what you thought were the main strategic elements at play, particularly in relationship to Inkatha and the ANC and the situation in Natal and some more extensive observations regarding the country as a whole. What I'm asking now is as you look back at the last 19 months, what modifications have you seen in the scenarios that you outlined or in the analysis that you gave?
LB Well one of the things one must be grateful for just in passing is the events of CODESA and the peace meetings which definitely had a sobering effect on the people because they are seeing now for the first time that it's not so easy to jump from revolutionary to being a politician, that there's a process you have to go through. When you sit out in the bush and you promise things it's nice, it's easy, but when you actually start having to deliver it you find that it's not that easy to deliver. So, yes, I'm very glad that the politicians have got together with CODESA and if CODESA stays on track and the economy starts booming, which some people say there could be an upswing, I don't know, I'm not an economist, it's difficult to project, but if there is an upswing and CODESA stays on track then the future for this country is secure. Then there can be no problem. You'll still have problems in the sense that you'll always have crime, you'll always have unrest. Even India, one of the greatest democracies in the world, you have unrest, so you'll always have unrest unfortunately, intolerance, years of fighting. You'll still have that for some time. But once people start getting work and your political process runs with the employment then definitely you will have a sharp drop in the crime rate and in the unrest because once we get out of the unrest areas we can concentrate more on the crime which will then result in more people wanting to invest money here, which will again, it's a Catch 22 situation, to get jobs. So it all plays a role, yes.
POM What kind of things do you think could untrack CODESA?
LB Could untrack? Could put it off rails? Intolerance of the other person's views. But if one looks at the first CODESA in spite of the great problems there seems to be a fair amount of scaling down of expectations. Things like the right wing, things like crime. unemployment, if the bottom drops out of the market place, the foreign exchange, that type of thing. Those are things that can pose problems for future development in the country. If nothing is done about unemployment, because that is a problem. If a person hasn't got anything, anyone can promise him things and you're dealing with a very unsophisticated audience or a very unsophisticated group of people and they would tend to flock to those people. So by false pretences you will then get their support for a while.
POM These two questions are I think related. One, is there any doubt in your mind that de Klerk has to have another whites-only referendum, whatever, that he has to go back to his constituency?
LB It's unconstitutional if he doesn't and if we're dealing with constitutions and we're dealing with keeping things done in the correct way then it would appear that he would have no other choice. But by his own statements he has promised this on numerous occasions that he will have this referendum or this vote before he makes a final decision. And I'm just hoping that the people who then participate therein will have the sense, I'm sure they will, will then have the sense to see that there's no going back, one has to go forward.
POM The second thing is if the Conservative Party remains outside the process and the PAC remains outside the process, the extremes?
LB The PAC is a very small faction. Just look quickly at the PAC. The PAC are being kept alive virtually by media. I know I said earlier that there seems to be a flocking over but one mustn't take flocking as in hundreds of thousands. There is a definite movement across but the PAC element is very small but very vocal. So one must be very careful of that. So one must think in terms of small, vocal, very violent rather than a large organisation. I thought I'd just mention that and get that in perspective. One mustn't write them off, there is a problem with it. What was the second?
POM The Conservative Party.
LB Oh, the right. What if they remain outside CODESA?
POM If they remain outside CODESA.
LB Well I'm hoping personally that, again this is on the personal level now, that they will participate but there's principles involved here I think and one would have to go and consult a member of the Conservative Party and one can see this thing over parliament at the moment, sovereignty of parliament. There's this two days, Mondays and Tuesdays, big issue about it. [A lot of people to them, so what?] But to the Conservative Party it's a principle. Now a person without principles at any stage of life is not worth anything because we're founded on principles so I respect those principles anyway although I don't necessary support that point of view because I'm hoping that they will come into CODESA, yes.
POM But as you look as a person involved in the police force who has to make an analysis of the situation, what would be your analysis of one, if they remain outside and, two, if there is an election which is either very close or which in fact the government ...?
LB You see it makes it very difficult for us because at the end of the day the police force carries out a policy as set out by the government of the day. So if the government of the day then becomes a Conservative Party thing we will still try, I assume, and maintain what we've been trying to maintain now and attain now and that is a non-political stance. But again one must take it from the government because wherever you are in the world the government dictates what the others must do and that is going to be, we are speculating over things which I don't know whether it will happen. I hope not.
POM Finally, looking back over the last 18 months, a lot has happened in South Africa, from your own kind of personal observations, how the change is occurring, where you see it leading to?
LB That is a loaded question because, again, we are talking now first of all sort of a broad outline and that's very specific, I find it very specific and it's going to place me in a political context. I personally just hope, if I can answer it this way, that CODESA keeps on track and that we can't go back to what we were. Make no error. If anybody thinks that we can go back to what we were they need their heads read. That's it. We've got to go forward. How we're going to get to the front, there politicians must decide, we will follow. If I felt so strongly about it then I must leave what I'm doing and join the politicians that I can also have an input. But I don't feel so strongly because I think that the people that are there are fairly competent and let them carry on. I will follow and carry out, my people, us, we will carry out the policy whatever comes out of it. And as I say, we can't go back. There is no way.
POM OK. Thank you.