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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

28 Jul 1992: Buchner, Jac

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     It's been a very eventful year since we've been here. You have seen the National Peace Accord signed, you have seen CODESA 1 completed, CODESA 2 end up in stalemate. You hear, I don't know whether to call it, but intimations of war from some of the more recent speeches from Buthelezi. What's your overall assessment of the situation here and in the country?

JB     Again it's not a big problem but you've referred to me as a Brigadier General - I'm a two star General. We have this situation over here that a Brigadier or a Brigadier General is a one star General and we've got two star, three star and four star Generals. So at this stage I'm a two star. Not that it makes any difference.

     I think if you go through the notes of the last two or three meetings I did say that there was going to be bloodshed, there were going to be problems, we were going to experience problems before we get to the final conclusion in the new South Africa. The parties involved, the African National Congress on the one side and then the government party on the other side and then your other internal organisations such as the IFP and so on, they all are looking towards a future, each one is looking to see where they themselves will fit into the new dispensation, if I may call it that. Everybody is looking towards a new South Africa and I think it's only natural that everybody would like to have a part or have a say in the new South Africa. There is going to be a lot of posturing. I did say there was going to be a lot of posturing and establishing power bases among others, put it very particularly like that, but that was the way I saw it.

     Now the ANC being outside the country for many years and being, in South African terms, an illegal organisation has got a lot of catching up to do. So, that is why you have all these words being spoken at CODESA and why you sometimes get to an impasse where they cannot see eye to eye. But I am still very, very hopeful. I am still very positive and I'm very optimistic about the future and I do believe that we will get back on course with negotiations. Unfortunately the violence is a thing that will stay with us for a little while. But once the die is cast and we've gone to the polls and you've had your one man one vote and you've had the results I have an idea that everything will fall into place and we will go forward into the new South Africa.

POM     There have been a couple of reports issued recently about which I would like your comments. The first was the International Commission of Jurists which referred to the KwaZulu Police as the private army of Dr. Buthelezi and also laid a great proportion of the blame for the violence on Dr. Buthelezi's shoulders. Did that Commission come and visit with you?

JB     They did come to Ulundi. I'm not concerned about what they think if I comment on their visit, but it would be the same if I went to Britain and was escorted around by Neil Kinnock or somebody like that and went and assessed what was going on in the Tory Government and I spend two days or three days in Britain and I come back and I'm an expert on it. The jurists came here and they spent, I don't know if they spent half an hour here. Most of their time was spent in the company of ANC, the company of Legal Resources, Lawyers for Human Rights. They were surrounded by those people and they were spoon fed with everything they had. So obviously they got it from a very slanted angle on the one side. There was no question on the past, there was no inspection in loco regarding the role of the KwaZulu Police. I do not think they asked any KwaZulu policemen anything regarding their actions or how they saw their job. They didn't comment on the fact that after years of strife when we started doing the policing correctly in Kwamashu that there was hardly any crime there, hardly any murders there. We have hardly any unrest in KwaZulu in the areas controlled by the KwaZulu Police, we've got hardly any unrest. But they don't refer to that.

POM     They didn't interview you personally?

JB     They did. They spent, I would say, about ten minutes asking me a few questions but they were not interested. I put across my statement but they didn't actually highlight anything that they wanted to have cleared up. I'm afraid that the word 'international' is possibly right, 'jurists' yes, but I would like to know of what political standing they are because they are definitely biased to the one side.

POM     So last year when we were visiting the National Peace Accord was on the verge of being signed and it was signed with great fanfare in Johannesburg in September and yet one year later it seems to have collapsed in disarray, violence seems higher than ever in most parts of the country.

JB     I don't think it's collapsed. Maybe the peace has collapsed but the National Peace Accord is still going very strong. We were signatories to the National Peace Accord and I have a policeman permanently appointed to the Dispute Resolution Committee, I've got a policeman sitting on the Peace Board. I myself attend most of the local Dispute Resolution Committees and the Regional Dispute Resolution Committees and we actually have had quite a lot of success in having negotiations directly with the ANC and with the parties involved. We have found, well I have found that at all our first meetings that the ANC they wanted their problems and their solutions, but mostly their problems were of a historical nature and they used to, they still do, every time we have a meeting, an initial meeting in a specific area, they come and they bring you all the problems of the past 100 years. We say, "Right, now that is water under the bridge, we are here to resolve any problems that you might have from now onwards. As far as the past is concerned we will try and clear up what has to be cleared up but we cannot be held responsible for historical events from 1948 or 1910 or so, but if something is wrong and is still outstanding we will look at it. But from now on what we want, every meeting we have from now on if there's something worrying you that you want resolved we will resolve it." Now they're coming up and saying, "Sorry we've got nothing more." So it would seem that the Resolution Committees have served a purpose. We've diffused certain situations and I think the ANC themselves find now that they haven't got enough ammunition on a month to month basis to come and complain about our actions. We've had three meetings so far in the Umgeni area and since the initial meeting we've only had one complaint. To me it seems that it's working.

POM     It's working.

JB     In the Durban area we've had the same. I have officers attending these meetings and they tell me that nothing new is being fed into the meeting. What has also happened is that the ANC are now informing us to come and have a meeting there and there and there and this is what's going to happen. And this is happening at grass roots level so we're not having all this confrontational sort of situation. To me the National Peace Accord and also the local Dispute Resolution Committees and the Police Code of Conduct and all those things that go round the National Peace Accord have served a purpose.

POM     Do you think that in this part of the country that a climate exists in which you could have free and fair elections?

JB     As it is now? Yes, in this part of the country, yes. There is a great possibility we will have free and fair elections in this area. But I'm afraid in your high density areas, in the squatter areas around the cities intimidation will continue and there will be intimidation and there will be quite serious intimidation.

POM     When you say 'this area' you're talking about?

JB     The rural areas, traditional areas.

POM     But in Pietermaritzburg, Durban?

JB     Even in the traditional areas in Pietermaritzburg it will be, I say, fair and free, there will be a free election. I'm not going to comment on the fairness because people will always try and do something devious but as far as intimidation is concerned we are going to have in our cities and in our better areas, we are going to have intimidation. It's going to be a way of life.

PAT     Does that mean though not only election day but if the ANC might come in to Ulundi or other parts of KwaZulu and hold rallies with political figures that that condition would not pose intimidation or any problem?

JB     It would. Possibly over here it would cause a bit of intimidation too if the ANC - that's seeing it from the one side. The ANC have already said that they have difficulty in Empangeni in organising meetings. Now the ANC is not very strong in that area and they actually want the police to facilitate their meetings. I said I cannot get involved in organising political rallies for parties because if I do it for the ANC then I must do it for all other parties. You must do your own thing. And they said, yes, but you hold the power in the area. We do not hold any power. If the ANC has a legal meeting we will do our best to ensure that it goes off without a hitch. They had a big march on Sunday. They notified me on Friday, we put police in the area and they had a very successful march. We will support them but we cannot facilitate their meetings, but over here it might be intimidatory although I am sure that Dr Buthelezi will allow them and the Town Council will allow the ANC to have a meeting should there be elections or when there are elections.

POM     The second report that I wanted to refer you to, and I want you to look at this in the light of your experience in the South African Police, and I'm talking about the Waddington Report on the massacre at Boipatong which was extremely hard-hitting. What do you think? It called the police response to the investigation woefully inadequate, incompetent and the police operation as bedevilled by failure of leadership at all levels, inadequate non-commissioned officers were left at the scene to make fateful decisions, command had been notable by its absence most of the time, junior officers had not been properly briefed and lessons have not been learned and all the while community relations have suffered. He said this was representative of the way in which policing was done in the SAP, that the SAP is an unaccountable police force. I want you to place that against the image, at least I have had, of the SAP being one of the most ruthlessly efficient police forces, particularly during the seventies and eighties, who would be able to smell a subversive 1500 metres away, who were always on the ball, on top of the ball and the two images are at total variance with one another. Where, if anywhere, does the truth lie?

JB     I think first of all you must look at the word 'accountability' before we go to Waddington's report. The word 'accountability', the police are accountable. The South African Police they are accountable first of all to the Commissioner and then to the minister who is then accountable to the Cabinet. So they are an accountable force. A lot of people have been using this word 'accountability'. Secondly, Waddington, again not to detract from Waddington, I know Frank Waddington quite well. He attended another conference and that's where he and Goldstone met each other. The conference was arranged by Lawyers for Human Rights and the Legal Resources Centre and a few other people and he is a very knowledgeable person. Having said that, Dr Waddington comes to South Africa and he brings with him two policemen. Now I spoke to one policeman on my last trip to Europe who was an expert on scenes of murder and in his career he has attended eight murder cases, in his career. He's an expert. I would say that in the Soweto area, if you're a murder and robbery detective, a murder detective on scenes of crime, you would attend to 30 murder cases a month. Now if you have a murder where Waddington comes from you would have 10 or 20 scenes-of-crime policemen sifting around looking for evidence. You will not have 1000 people toyi-toying or dancing around the streets, trying first of all to get hold of the police and secondly, irrespective of the scene of the crime, destroying all the evidence that there is.

     I read Waddington's report and except for his remarks in the beginning, and I think we must look at Waddington's Report in two senses, you must first of all look at the positive and then there's a very negative side. On the negative side I know that the SAP has already looked at it and they have already taken steps, it was necessary for Waddington's Report to point out certain things and maybe we do things not according to international standards. Our results are the same but our methods might not the same. But the first thing that I feel that Frank brought out is that the police were not involved in the massacre at Boipatong. When Boipatong was opened up to the world it was said that it was members of Koevoet that were responsible, that the government was responsible, that the South African Police was responsible and, of course, de Klerk, were responsible for Boipatong. I'm sorry I'm making a long story of it.

POM     No, it's important.

JB     To look at the thing in perspective, and if you look through the first few pages, the acts or the attitudes of Schlebush and Kruger, the two Sergeants that were driving the two vehicles, he doesn't criticise them at all. There is a criticism about a lack of overlapping while there's a change of duty at 10 o'clock at night. That's criticism, but there's no criticism of the action of the two units that were operating, patrolling in bullet proof vehicles and so on. They were on the spot, there were actually four vehicles and two of them were busy investigating one scene and nothing, in his own words, "Nothing untoward was happening at that stage", according to everybody. Even when they found the bodies. But there was a very definite and a very serious shortcoming in the scenes-of-crime members that attended. That was the first problem.

     And the second thing is that the duty officer, Captain Lewis, did not come to the scene. He wasn't there. This is where your command falls flat. Because he was not informed, he was only informed of two bodies being found. Later on I think they found another eleven bodies during the night. But he was only informed of two and he thought it was two bodies, but because of our South African scene if you discover two bodies in an unrest area at night it's not something that you phone the Commissioner at night and wake him up from his bed. He takes note of it and he says, "Have you taken the necessary patrols?" and they say, "Yes, we are patrolling at the moment." But there is a shortcoming and that is being rectified now.

     There's also quite a few things, and I must say that the SAP have taken the Waddington Report and they have analysed it word for word and they've taken very positive steps, they already have. I actually have a meeting tomorrow with my senior officers tomorrow where we are going to discuss the Waddington Report in absolute detail and see where the KwaZulu Police falls flat. Have we got a contingency plan? Have we got a command and control structure? Have we got scenes-of-crime experts available? Should we have, as Waddington says, "What if, if this happens are we ready for it?" So it's a hard hitting report. I say I look at the positive side first and what he brought out there. He did not find fault with the youngsters who were actually doing the ground patrol. He found fault with the overlapping of changeovers, he found fault with the command structure itself. The command structure did not react because they were not informed. The command structure is there and it was available and it is available on a 24 hour basis. Our internal stabilisation force, they've got a complete structure and this thing is now being looked into to make sure it doesn't happen again.

     I can guarantee that the SAP has taken note of every word and they are going to react. I know they have done - the scenes-of-crime, these mobile laboratories and stuff like that and it's true what he says there that we have been isolated too long and that we did not keep up with the investigative methods, not methods so much as attitudes towards investigations as far as the western world is concerned. But you can imagine yourself taking over 39 different scenes-of-crime in one evening or one morning and in that whole area, for the whole of the Free State and this part of the country they have got twenty scenes-of-crime personnel. It's not an excuse, it's something that must be taken into account. The safeguarding of scenes of crime, that's another very important aspect but it is difficult when you find a body and the locals are up in arms, they are threatening, they actually sometimes fire shots and stuff like that, to now go and put your cordon around it and say, "Nobody goes through this tape over here because this is now a scene of crime."

POM     During the last two years, and we talked of some of this last year, the ANC has insisted that it is the government that is behind the violence by acts of omission if not by acts of commission. If one looks at the catalogue of incidents that they have ascribed to them it's very difficult sometimes not to get the impression that, yes indeed the police stand by or that police would seem to side with Inkatha more than the ANC and that I can understand why for historical reasons. What puzzles me is why Mr de Klerk would not at some point in the last two years say, "I'm going to have a sweeping review of entire police procedures", because I think when people say that if the violence was black against whites or whites among whites that the reaction would be quicker.

JB     Completely different, yes.

POM     Why do you think there has been this absence of response on his side particular when it became an increasingly tinder-box political issue?

JB     Without running ahead of my time, there are sweeping reforms coming, but again he's President. I would rather see it with the Minister of Law and Order to start saying that we are instituting this. I think one of our biggest problems in South Africa is that we are the most unwieldy, I think we are the biggest police force in the world. The South African Police numbers 112000 men and women which makes it bulky, unwieldy. They've started first of all with the decentralisation and this even includes commands and control. Your decentralised police, your regional police can have its own set up. They are busy establishing it at the moment which would make it a more manageable size and it will also be more localised so if you have a problem area in Pietermaritzburg/Durban you, from the region, have got the knowledge of that reason and you'll be able to sort it out easier. We are looking at specialist training and also the wider training of our officers. That is something that's definitely on the cards. We have already started and I myself have started in-service training over the past two years to get a more professional type of policeman on the street. One thing that we are all going back to now again is having the Bobby on the beat. We have found that this is the basis of all policing and this is where police/community relations can be improved. At this stage in South Africa the worst thing we have is that there is a major distrust from the community towards the police and we are trying our level best now to eradicate that but that's a thing you can't do overnight. I would say that there are major reforms already occurring within the police.

POM     Do you think part of the problem might be that during the seventies and the eighties the police were seen as the vanguard against the total onslaught?

JB     Oh yes.

POM     In other words it saw itself as a police force engaged in a war situation so that rules of accountability within the police structures themselves were much looser. You got a confession, there weren't so many questions asked about how in fact you got the confession, whereas now there's been a whole new set of criteria being employed.

JB     I don't see it in that way because first of all we have a very unique system in South Africa which is not the same as the British or other western countries, admissibility of confessions, admissibility of statements to the police, they are not admissible at all unless it's made by the defence. A confession if it's made to a Judge or a Magistrate or Justice of the Peace is admissible if you can prove it wasn't under duress.

     So, having said that, just to take you a bit further, I agree with you that the policing of the sixties and seventies and even the fifties did lend itself to deviate from normal policing methods. First of all we had a state of emergency under which people were detained so if you went to a scene-of-crime you had quite a long time to go through it because you had indefinite detention sort of thing. Most of the police were drawn away on border duty. They were involved in other things, other than safeguarding the community against crime and we lost, in my opinion, that is where we started to lose the co-operation of the community because we were not a community police force. We were running around doing battles on the border, fighting the terrorist incursions and actually acting more in a military manner whereas we lost the concept of the Bobby on the beat. We are now coming back, two years ago we started coming back to doing police work again as opposed to doing border duty and even riot control. If our people were not on the border they were in riot control and that was a confrontational sort of policing and I believe you cannot police a community in a confrontational manner. If you don't have the support of the community you can't police. Rightly or wrongly that's the way I see it and if you have policemen that move in and among the community and at all times are seen to be looking after the interests of the community then you will get the co-operation of the community.

POM     Again looking at another aspect of the problem because I want to go back to: why didn't de Klerk respond as a political leader and say, "I have a problem here and as a political leader I will respond and be seen to respond and therefore try to get rid of the problem." My question would be that I think it's acknowledged, that's the impression I get, that morale in the police is pretty low, that they think they are held in low esteem. Many of them get shot at and get killed and their ordinary police work in the community is not appreciated. They still feel that elements in the ANC foster distrust of them. In a situation like that could the State President be seen to institute the sweeping reform of the police force without eliminating completely the morale and perhaps the loyalty of that force? Is loyalty a factor? Are there constraints on de Klerk within which he must operate when he deals with the police force?

JB     I don't know if there are any constraints but when you spoke about sweeping changes and that he should step in and announce his sweeping reforms, sweeping reforms always go with movement sideways of certain people, bringing new ideas and so on and what you mention now was discussed a few days ago about the morale of the South African Police and it was agreed that it is definitely something that must be worked on as they are intimidated and they are under pressure from all sides and they really have lost their image too. If you now come and you make a clean sweep and you announce a vote of no confidence in the top structure of the police and you announce all these sweeping reforms I think you might just destroy, not the morale, but the loyalty because there are already murmurings in the ranks, "What are we doing this for? We are doing this for the new government that's going to take over. What's going to happen to the Police?" And certain organisations are already saying "You guys are all out. We're going to have Nuremberg trials and God knows what." And this is a thing that worries young people who make the police their career, even in my own police force and I am at pains to point out that you cannot in a new South Africa dismiss 120000 people or 100000 people and appoint your own task force or your own police force overnight. It cannot work. They might chop my head off and a few others and chase us away but the bulk of the police force will have to remain to give it a basis and give it stability. It may just be wrongly interpreted if the State President goes in now and announces the early retirement of quite a large number of senior officials and great new ideas, it might give the wrong impression.

POM     I've also heard in a related context but with the collapse at CODESA, the deadlock and then the ANC walking away and moving towards a campaign of mass mobilisation, strikes and stayaways, I hear murmurings from a number of white people including some in the security forces who said they voted 'Yes' in the referendum. It seems that there are many whites out there today that if they were asked to vote again might vote differently, that there is a feeling growing that the ANC and its alliances are pushing things just a little bit too hard.

JB     We get the same vibrations. A lot of people have said that to me, even some of the people I know. But the whole thing centres about the uncertainty and my personal belief is that this thing is dragging on too long. Expectations have been raised and created for a large number of people in South Africa. We're in the new South Africa, we should now go forward to a new South Africa. We should go to the ballot box. I still feel the military have gone to the ballot box and the results have been announced and unhappy people have done what they should do and the other people have done what they should do. I am sure that there will be a settling, a calming of emotions. A lot of this is establishing power bases so that this intimidation and the measures taking place, and they are not wanton, it's all part of a pattern. I don't know about Boipatong and one or two others but in my opinion it is a form of intimidation or a form of retaliation, one of the two. This will carry on until we go to the ballot box. We come back again to the question of people changing their ideas. Those people who say that you cannot in the South African context, even if we did have that election, we couldn't lose it because if we lost we would have lost everything much quicker because definitely the whole world attitude was against us. We were acting, we were perpetuating apartheid, we were continuing to suppress the black man and you cannot go with (sorry I am not a politician) but you can't go with the far right. Definitely not in the South African context. In my opinion the best thing that could have happened was to vote 'Yes' and to open the channel to start these negotiations.

POM     When you said the best thing that could happen would be for this process to get on as quickly as possible, let me give you two views that I've heard and then if you would give me your reaction. One view is that the ANC and the SACP made their compromise of 70% threshold for the constitution and 75% threshold for items in the Bill of Rights because they wanted to get the thing moving. They wanted an interim government quickly and if this meant moving up from 66% they were prepared to do it. What they wanted to do was get their hands on power quickly and the way forward. That's one point of view. The other point of view would be that it was in the interests of the government to delay this process for as long as possible. The more it's delayed the less the ANC has to show, the continuing political rivalry and violence is weakening the ANC in the townships and making the government and its allies look like better alternatives. Therefore, the longer the government can delay the day of reckoning in terms of an election the stronger it and its allies should be. Which point of view would you buy into or how would you analyse those two opposing perspectives?

JB     First of all the first one, I can agree with that. I have no knowledge of that but I will agree with the first about the SACP and the ANC giving a bit away in order to gain some more. Having said that I would also agree that we cannot go into the future without a proper constitution, without a Bill of Rights. That is something that we must have and I've spoken with Judge Olivier and a few other people and I think there is consensus in South African politics that we cannot even look at a new South Africa unless we've got a Bill of Rights and an acceptable constitution. On the other hand I don't agree with the second statement at all because I feel if we went to the polls now the ANC would be at a distinct disadvantage.

POM     It would be at a disadvantage?

JB     Oh very definitely and every day that we wait longer the ANC is getting stronger. It's getting more support. I think it would be quite naive to say that the longer we wait the weaker the ANC is, or it will destroy itself because first of all by intimidation, and I'm not saying that the ANC is only intimidating, but intimidation through the strength of your trade unions and COSATU is extremely strong, you can only increase your power. You won't destroy it. They've got a fantastic propaganda system, they've got a fantastic organisational system. The longer they carry on the stronger they will get. The ANC was in exile for 31 years, whatever, 29 years they were in exile. The ANC never had, I always say they never had a mandate, but they never had open elections in South Africa, they could never test themselves to see how strong they were internally. Coming back in from the cold they've got dissidents within their ranks, they've got a lot of unhappiness within their ranks that they haven't sorted out yet. They come here now and they expect to go to the masses and give them something to go to the ballot box with. They haven't got that. And every day that the government waits longer it gives the ANC that opportunity to establish power bases, to establish themselves among the community.

POM     So would it be your opinion that if an election were held today the government and its allies would probably do better than the ANC/SACP?

JB     Oh yes.

POM     How do you see that being put together? Where do you see the votes for ...?

JB     First of all you must look at what I call coalition politics because there is no one party that will ever again rule in South Africa unless it's after the first one man one vote and somebody takes over. It is coalition politics and there are a large number of people who will not vote for the government and they will not vote for the ANC but they will vote for intermediate sort of organisations and it's up to the ANC or the government to liase with these people and get them on side. There is still a stigma attached to the government definitely among a large number of blacks but there is a bigger stigma attached to the ANC and the worst of all is the Communist Party. This is the biggest millstone of the ANC. There are a lot of people, I don't know black traditions and so on, from small they were always told about the threat of the communists and even in 1959 the breakaway within the ranks of the ANC to form the PAC that was as a result of, mostly, the influence of the Communist Party within the ranks of the ANC. Now it's going to destroy the ANC to a certain extent because the PAC is a force to be reckoned with too. The PAC will never join an alliance with the ANC. Hopefully the government will never do that either but the government won't join hands with the PAC. If you have astute politicians and you come to the day of reckoning it will be a straight fight between the ANC and the government in certain areas. In certain areas it will be the PAC versus the ANC. If you have the right people opposing each other it will destroy half of what the ANC is standing for. So you are eroding votes. The ANC will win a large number of constituencies but the coalition will win more.

POM     So you would see the ANC deadlocking and then walking out of CODESA as being really part of a pre-planned something. It couldn't afford to have an acceptable arrangement at this point in time because it would be immediate or the prospect of immediate elections, therefore it needed more breathing space.

JB     That is one point and, again, this is just the way I see it, I don't really discuss it with other people. It's just my own observations. I don't know how many constituencies we will have in South Africa, but let's say we have 1000 constituencies and I think I'm close when I say we have 1000 constituencies, or whatever the figure. The government has been fighting elections since 1910 or somewhere about there. The National Party is geared up, the Conservative Party is geared up, the Democratic Party also, I can't remember the names any more, but they are all geared up to fight elections. In each constituency, in each village they've got their little office, they've got their telephone, they've got their representative, they've got their car and they've got their voluntary workers already identified. They've been doing it for more than 50 years. Now the IFP and a few of the other organisations here have also been involved in local elections, local government and so on, they have also got some form of system in their various areas. The ANC has no election office in place yet. If the election is announced now for September next year, they've got to man (all right it's not 1000) but they've got to man, say, 1000 offices. They have got to appoint representatives in those 1000 areas, they've got to appoint staff, they've got to buy motor cars, get telephones, office space. It would take the South African government, which is very slow, about five years to get a thing like that in place. I don't know how quickly the ANC can get it in place. And also then to be seen to be representative of the party that they are going to take to the polls. I mean placards and all that. But I do not foresee that they can do this in six months or a year and this is one of the reasons that I say the government is ready now for an election, the ANC is not yet ready for elections, so I don't think the government is playing for time.

POM     When you look at the period when CODESA deadlocked, you had Mandela and de Klerk putting their best faces on it saying, yes we have deadlocked but the problems aren't insuperable. Then less than six weeks later you had the ANC stridently walk out of CODESA and they put out a further list of fourteen demands that must be met before they would go back to the negotiating table and they announced plans for mass action, their whole attitude has become militant and hard line and Mandela begins to mount what are personal attacks on de Klerk as being directly responsible for the violence. When you look at that period how do you analyse it in terms of the shifting dynamics within the ANC itself?

JB     The scenario you have just described, when I look at it it takes me back to 1958/59. We were heading exactly the same way and I actually had visions of another 1960, you know Sharpeville and Boipatong, sort of similar incidents and then state of emergency after that and all that. What has happened here, in my opinion in any case, is that seeing that we can't get any further around the negotiation table if we push this thing and we go to an election and we lose, isn't it easier to take power by forcing the government out, by refusing to co-operate or take part in CODESA and then calling mass action and a campaign of - the 1952 campaign, the passive resistance campaign - history is repeating itself all along the way again. Mass protest, especially through the trade unions from 1955/56 onwards but mass action, passive resistance and in an attempt to weaken the economy of the country which is already bad and people staying away from work and then eventually causing the fall of the government, the people demanding the takeover of the government by the ANC. That way they could take it over.

POM     This is called the Leipzig option.

JB     Oh I don't know which one that is. But the ANC in my opinion hasn't got a hope in hell of taking it through the ballot box and I think it must be clear to them. In my opinion this is why that CODESA thing happened because the writing is on the wall. If you read statements, as you said earlier on, they may be seen to cause bother in other people, they may be seen to make mistakes and so on which might count against them. They are making mistakes but they haven't got the support of the masses that they thought they had.

POM     Do you see a shift of power within the ANC itself?

JB     It's already started I feel because the soft liners are being ...

POM     Who would you call the soft liners?

JB     Well Jacob Zuma was one and I think he has already been - also the fact that he's a Zulu. The other one was Thabo Mbeki. I think he's lost a lot of his, not credibility, but his standing. But you have got guys like Cyril Ramaphosa who is also one of the younger people coming up very strongly, Chris Hani is being allowed to carry on and make statements, very inflammatory statements. There's definitely been a shift towards a more militant approach.

POM     So did Boipatong come at the right time for the ANC?

JB     A thing like Boipatong will always be at the right time for the ANC because they can now go and shout murder and shout, "de Klerk you're a murderer" and "Buthelezi you're a murderer" and everybody else in South Africa, "You are murderers".

POM     Let me ask this question parallel to the question I asked about de Klerk, whether a factor in his decision has to be maintaining the loyalty of the men on the ground and in the ranks and that you can't do too much to alienate them because you'll lose their loyalty and then you've got a real problem. Do you think that the leadership of the ANC is in control of what happens at the grassroots, what happens with many of the younger comrades or that they are more or less free to engage in their own militant actions without receiving the direction from above?

JB     First of all we've got the two pictures here. The first one is that the political leaders do not have control. They cannot be held responsible for the actions of the cadres. They cannot be held responsible because when this man acts out of turn he does not act on behalf of the ANC. They always say he acts on his own. They cannot control, they actually admitted this on two or three occasions, or even more occasions. I personally do not feel that their political leadership has control over these people but what is very definite, what is very sure is that these youngsters are being logistically supplied. They have access to hand grenades, they've got access to limpet mines, they've got access to AK47s and they've got unlimited access. It is frightening if you take in one week what the police forces of South Africa confiscate or obtain or seize from people who then deny that they are possibly ANC members and unless you can actually get his ANC membership card there is no way you can prove it. Four incidents in one evening of AK47s being used in one of the townships and always 30 or 40 or 50 rounds fired willy nilly into houses and things like this. And the ANC say they don't control it, those in the leadership say they can't control it. Somewhere along the line there is somebody organising it. You could put it as maybe as a hit squad again? But a hit squad on the side of the ANC and, as I say, they have got unlimited access to firearms.

POM     In terms of hit squads, when the whites only referendum was being held I think there were more people killed in the lead up to that in the two or three weeks up to the referendum than in any period earlier in the year and I think later in the year. I think up to 300 people were killed in the space of three weeks and this certainly wasn't in the interests of the government yet it happened. Whose interest would that violence have been in?

JB     I suppose the anti-government forces. But I don't think, well I've never looked at that thing from that point of view so I don't think I should put a judgement in here, it would be pure speculation. It's not something I've thought about for quite some time. I'm not dodging the issue.

POM     Just as the ANC leadership denies that it has control over its cadres, do you think that a similar situation pertains in Inkatha, that the leadership are not in fact in control of what happens on the ground?

JB     The political leadership? They have control over their areas and over their units, their members, but Dr Buthelezi is always outspoken about violence in that he has never encouraged violence and he's never ordered violence. Maybe it sounds as if I'm putting it in a different sense now because you asked about Inkatha. The same goes here to where people are fighting in an area, like I have in my area, the one area is totally Inkatha, and they either go out and attack the area next door or they are being attacked. The press picks it up immediately that it is an Inkatha/ANC fight. But it's not with the sanction of the political leaders. That is at grass roots level, this side and that side and I think on both sides we can say that. Just now I spoke of the ANC cadres, I'm not speaking now of the ANC cadres, I'm speaking of the local population on the ground. You may have an ANC grouping here and you may have an Inkatha group there and I do not believe that at all times it is the leadership that tells them to get stuck into each other. I think that's at a lower level.

POM     What I'm getting at is that from a number of people with whom we have talked and one of the emerging paradigms is that none of the three major leaders are quite in control of their respective constituencies, that things happen on the ground that affect them and that the major political leaderships have in fact very little or no control over the manner in which these things happen on the ground.

JB     I must agree with you there. Let me agree to that, but then I think the very same can be said for any political party in the world, even the government party, that they have no control over their members on ground level. I know for a fact that I see a lot of these people come to see Dr Buthelezi from the various areas and they complain they are being attacked by the ANC, they are being slaughtered, they are being killed and he's always pacifying. And when he asks me, "Can you put policemen in the area?", then I say, "It's not my area", he says, "Can you get hold of the SAP and ask them to assist?" And never once does he say take retaliatory action, or take action against these people. But when they do he actually chastises them too. And if they get into trouble they go to prison. So I don't know if it's a question of not having control. It was, how do you control individual people for any political party? If the AWB want to get up and march somewhere can their leadership in Pretoria tell them not to do it in Sterkfontein or somewhere like that?

POM     One last question. We visited with Thomas Shabalala last week in Umlazi and there's not a KwaZulu Police presence there yet but he said he was looking forward to one coming there. If that presence did come there would it be under his control? He would not be like the civil authority in charge of it?

JB     Unfortunately we have a lot of those problems. He came to me, or he came to the police, and he gave us a piece of property for the erection of a police station and so on and I immediately objected because he is known to the press as a warlord, as an Inkatha man. If you put that police station there he's going to interfere in the day to day running of the police force and then it's going to be seen as his own private force and I totally object to that. So what we have done now is we've moved the police station somewhere else, although his site is ideal, politically it's not ideal. There will be a police force but he will have no say whatsoever in the police force. But he will influence young people. Again, I must also say that he has got the quietest area in the whole territory. How he does it ...?

PAT     We don't know.

JB     It's only conjecture, that.

PAT     How many men will you have on the same line to form defence units?

JB     We haven't really got a problem with different - I've spoken to the ANC about defence units and I've said to them, all I expect, you must identify them to me so that we can also make use of them because I want them as a peace-keeping force, I want them as a crime prevention force like a neighbourhood watch.

PAT     Is that the idea of the ANC?

JB     Well, I would say yes, because if I have an ANC area and there are fifty young people walking around at night ensuring that nobody is attacked, at the same time they can see that nobody is being robbed and that nobody is being killed, it would make a fantastic difference to my police force. I'm glad you asked that question because my young policemen, two years ago every time there was a march, they got stuck in with batons and stuff like that because it was always a confrontational situation. Then the ANC was unbanned, now the ANC comes along and says, "I want to have a march" and they object strenuously. I said, "Well why? You cannot. It's a legal organisation." And it's actually nice to see the way it's been accepted because there are marches and the policemen walk with them, not in the British style because there is more dust over here. We walk with the marchers and we look at the community, we protect the community from the marchers and we protect the marchers from the community. And you know that it was quite a big adaptation from a policeman's point of view, especially a young Zulu policeman and I'm extremely proud of them because they've come through with flying colours. They are having discussions now with the ANC. They sit in on the meetings. At the one meeting a month ago there were seven or eight of my police officers turning up and saying hello to everybody and the animosity has gone. They see now that it can be a political platform. There are still a lot of things that need brushing up a bit, but their attitudes have changed. Where the one side was seen as the enemy it's now just seen as another pain in the butt.

     This morning I've got Kwamashu, now for a westerner it's very bad news but for me it was good news. Kwamashu for the past 24 hours there was one murder. One. We had no attempted murders. We had two robbery cases, ordinary robbery cases in which a total of R124-00 was stolen. We had two housebreaking areas. That is for an area where you have 300000/400000 people living. Two housebreaking cases.

PAT     Much better than Washington DC!

JB     And two rape cases. And that was the sum total for 24 hours. And we've been going through quite a few weeks, every now and again, no murders at all. Nothing at all. And that was a hotbed. I've got great hopes. Things are improving.

POM     Thank you again.

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.