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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

10 Aug 1992: Naudé, Beyers

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POM     Dr Naudé you've just referred to the crisis in Alexandra. Perhaps you could tell us a bit about that crisis and what role you are playing in it and what it is symptomatic of the larger sense.

BN     Well I'm still a Minister of the black Dutch Reform Church in Alexandra and as such as I regularly and actively involved not only in the congregational matters but also in the matters affecting the whole community and we've had a long experience in the past two years of the political tensions between the different black political organisations and especially as they centre around the active role of Inkatha in March and it relates specifically to the whole hostel situation. As you know a number of years ago the government decided that Alexandra as a township would be removed and all blacks will have to be shifted. Temporarily then they built six hostels, so-called hostels, the single men quarters and single women quarters for 2000 people each. In March last year the Inkatha supporters moved in into the oldest hostel Madala and according to all the indications they threatened the non-Inkatha and anti-Inkatha members and eventually were able to gain full control of the hostel.

POM     Now were these Inkatha members from Alexandra or were they from outside?

BN     Nobody knows but there is no doubt about it that the whole, the incentive, the plan was from outside. There were very little Inkatha members in Alexandra and this has led to the creation of what the Alexandra people themselves then stated to become the Beirut area of Alexandra where 653 families around Madala Hostel were threatened, were intimidated and were pressurised to leave their homes and a number of them fled to other areas of Alexandra. Forty three families went to a community hall and are still there temporarily. A number of churches took in people temporarily. I know of two church premises where in and around the church building there are eighteen families housed each and this is still the case. The situation became much more tense. Then there were constant shootings and killings and it has become a regular feature of the whole Alexandra life. Last Wednesday night for instance there was an Evangelical Choir, interdenominational choir which went to a home in order to sympathise in the African culture of what they call the night vigil, they stay with the family the whole night and upon arrival (and it was not a political act at all, it was purely a humanitarian act) two young people were shot from a car or a kombi passing by at 8.15 in the night and eight were wounded. And this is a regular event in Alexandra so that the situation is very tense. I just heard this morning that last night somebody else was again killed. The churches are doing what they can in order to curtail and eventually to eliminate this violence but it's very difficult if there is not a full scale co-operation on the part of your police, on the part of all the political organisations concerned.

POM     Do you find the police culpable in this situation or is it a situation in which all the political parties concerned are at fault in one way or another?

BN     I cannot make that judgement because the facts are not available and I believe that the only way in which this could be properly ascertained is if there were to be a full scale enquiry made by somebody like the Goldstone Commission to ascertain who in fact is at fault and what is happening. I would not wish to say anything more because whatever I may say may be seen to be purely rumours or unsubstantiated thoughts and feelings. But there is no doubt that supporters of Inkatha are playing a very active role in destabilising the safety of Alexandra because all the evidence is there that before March last year there were practically none of these experiences that we have today.

POM     What makes it so difficult, using maybe Alexandra as a microcosm, what makes it so difficult to actually stop the violence? I suppose maybe in the larger context I'm asking you what happened to the National Peace Accord? When we were here this time last year talking to you negotiations had begun between all the parties and the agreement was signed with great fanfare in September, the structures were put in place across the country and yet this has been the single most bloody year in South Africa's history in terms of violence. My question is almost fourfold: - 1. In Alexandra itself, what makes it so difficult to actually stop the violence? 2. What has happened to the National Peace Accord? Has it been effective or has it been a failure?

BN     I think I must start with the second question by saying that very little has happened to the National Peace Accord. Up to now as far as the black community is concerned it is seen to be non-operative, very ineffective and for many again a failure. There are a number of reasons why this is the case. First of all because the people who set up the National Peace Accord never consulted with the people at the grassroots to explain to them what it was all about, how it would operate and who would participate and what would be required of the people at the grassroots. So as far as the vast majority of the black community at the grassroots is concerned the National Peace Accord to them is a term, it's a theoretical term which has very little meaning in terms of their own concrete experience. As far as the violence in Alexandra is concerned, there is no doubt in my mind that if the government really is serious in stopping the violence it can do so tomorrow. That does not imply that there will not be individual cases of criminal violence or individual cases of uncontrolled political violence. Naturally that is something which nobody can control, but as far as the general pattern of violence and bloodshed and killing and shooting is concerned there is no doubt in my mind that if the government is really serious, if the government can apply the necessary pressures upon the police, including the very conservative elements in the police, the violence in Alexandra can be very, very seriously diminished.

POM     Let me ask you on that question, in the last 2 years Mr de Klerk has come across as a sincere man who wishes to lead his country down the road to democracy and many people would call him a very brave man for taking the steps he took and for breaking with the past. He's also an astute politician, a man who likes to make the visible gesture that he is in control and doing something. In your view, given the enormous amount of international attention that is focused on the violence, given the internal situation, why hasn't he taken action that will in fact stop the violence and why hasn't he shown himself to be on top of the situation?

BN     Well, let me start by saying that there is no doubt about it that he is a very astute politician. That's perhaps also one of the major problems that we face because the international world has, as a result of his very astute and successful political image and actions, placed him in the category of a statesman for stature which I think is a mistake. There are a number of reasons why he has not done so. First of all because the government itself is too deeply implicated in a number of actions where violence of some kind has either been supported, financed or condoned. I am referring here to the whole Inkathagate scandal which was denied by the government and yet proved to be true. I am referring here to the action of what we term a third force of individuals that we believe to be individual security force members using the whole structure of Inkatha in order to reach or to be able to achieve their own goals. There is also the factor of the government allowing your Battalion 32, 31, Koevoet to continue to exist despite the fact that the government has indicated that they would be closed down and every time there is new evidence to prove that they are still operating secretly. That is why the integrity of de Klerk, as far as the black community and certainly a small number of whites are concerned, has been seriously questioned and still remains in very serious doubt.

     I think the reasons why de Klerk is not at the present moment able to that is because first of all he is not certain to what degree, if he moves too hard and too fast on these security leaders like van der Westhuizen and many others where the indications of their complicity in violence is very, very strong and clear. But he seems to be afraid that that may lead to them setting up either a military coup or such active forms of resistance from within the security forces, both the police and the defence force, that he will not be able to handle it.

POM     Do you think that's a well founded fear?

BN     I think so, yes.

POM     So in a way then you are saying that he is in fact constrained by the degree of action that he can take?

POM     To go back to the National Peace Accord for a moment if it has been so ineffective because it never consulted the people on the ground, the black community who were supposed to be its main beneficiaries, do you think then that the recommendations by Boutros Ghali to support it with UN observers and to strengthen its structure so to speak, are also doomed to failure because of adding on to a structure that is already ineffective and again will not consult the people on the ground?

BN     No I do not think so because there is nothing basically wrong with the structure. The problem lay with the fact of the lack of information to the people of why it was set up, how it was set up, by whom it was set up. And if the people are properly informed that this is what is happening and that the United Nations is also behind it giving it the necessary support I've got no doubt that there will be very positive support in South Africa coming from your whole South African community.

POM     So you would expect a combination of the two to be effective?

BN     There's no doubt in my mind that it could be done and will be effective if it is done that way. For instance, just the presence of that small number of UN leaders here monitoring the situation of violence in the massive demonstrations of the last week, just the mere presence of those people had, to my mind, a positive effect. Naturally I can't prove what I am saying but there is no doubt in my mind that just the fact that the whole community in South Africa, black and white, realises that there is a United Nations presence looking, listening and, where necessary, also mediating. This has had, to my mind, a very positive effect and that is why the recommendations which have been made by Boutros Ghali has my full support.

POM     When you look at events in South Africa since the referendum in March when it appeared that the white community had given the go-ahead, an overwhelming go-ahead to de Klerk to go ahead with the reform process and yet since that time the government appears to have hardened its position, the CODESA talks moved from a deadlock to absolute collapse. In your mind what was going on during that period that led to (i) the deadlock in the talks and (ii) the collapse, of Mandela taking the ANC out of the talks and making a whole new list of demands which would have to be met before talks could be resumed, putting mass mobilisation on the front burner and making some very direct personal attacks on Mr de Klerk himself?

BN     Well I can only guess because I am not involved in all these talks and discussions. As I see what has happened, number 1: the massive support that de Klerk got for the referendum he interpreted as a massive support of the white community for his process of reform whereas he should have known, and I think he does know, that as far as the black community is concerned the very positive support which he received from the whites should not have been used by him as a leverage which he then used effectively in order to harden the attitude of the Nationalist Party towards the demands of the ANC, which is what happened because ANC leaders told me that immediately after the referendum they noticed there was a hardening of the whole approach of the Cabinet and of all those who were involved in CODESA.

POM     Why?

BN     I personally believe that de Klerk saw that there was no further threat to him from the right and he had thought that with that massive white support and if he gain the support of so-called black moderates, including Inkatha, including some of the black homeland leaders and the Coloureds and the Indians, that he would be able in a future South Africa to have a very strong number of South Africans voting for him and that the Nationalist Party would therefore be in a strong position. And I do not think de Klerk has ever in his whole process in calling for a true democracy, that he has ever considered the fact that the only proper way to do that is with a full scale referendum, a new constitution on one person one vote with the possibility, therefore, that the Nationalist Party will be ousted and it will become a reality. And it's quite clear to me that he clings with all his strength to the power that he wants to maintain and that he wants to manipulate also the further developments.

     And the ANC, to my mind, saw that and they then eventually became fed up and said "No we are not prepared to do it." Add to that the whole situation of what happened in Boipatong, because Boipatong was the culmination of all that pent up anger and frustration on the part of the people, and Boipatong was in that sense a final turning point in the whole history of the process of democratisation and negotiation between the government and de Klerk. When Nelson Mandela went to sympathise with the people of Boipatong he was met by young people singing in their own made songs saying, "You are leading us like lambs to the slaughter." And equally de Klerk when he went to Boipatong he was confronted by the tremendous anger on the part of the thousands of the people of Boipatong. The security police had indicated that this was an organised situation of protest and violence against de Klerk. That's absolute nonsense. I was in Boipatong regularly and anybody who knew anything about what had happened could have told de Klerk beforehand, "Don't be such a fool as to go into Boipatong now." Why did his security leaders not pick that up when all of us knew that to go in at that point in time was going to create a massive situation of resentment and bitterness on the part of the people?

POM     Why didn't they pick it up?

BN     I don't know.

POM     Is it because they are so out of touch with the situation or because they didn't mind seeing de Klerk embarrassed?

BN     I don't know. It may have been that some of them wanted him to go there to experience that because they don't in any case support his reforms.

POM     What strikes me about that period is that you had at CODESA the ANC making what appeared to me to be this remarkably generous offer.

BN     Very generous. I forgot to mention, the other point was the inflexibility and the intransigence of the government in that negotiation to stick to the 75% majority and the ANC as you know they said two thirds and then they were willing to go up to 70% but the government still insisted on 75%. And that together with the other factors was the moment when the ANC said, "We're not prepared to go on any longer."

POM     Again, just from your own conversations with people from the ANC and your work on the ground with the black community, a number of people that we've talked to and indeed many of the reports in the press that I read around that time, all suggest that had the government accepted the 70% offer on the constitutional provisions that the ANC would have had a very difficult time in selling that to their own constituency.

BN     True. There's no doubt about it that Nelson Mandela made the decision on his own without having time to consult extensively with the NEC, but he did that because of his deep concern that he wanted the negotiating process to go under way and when the government turned that down, that was the moment when he himself also made it very clear that he was not going to take this any further.

POM     So did the government in a peculiar way by turning the offer down let the ANC off the hook?

BN     Yes, without intending to do so. No doubt about that.

POM     It's your belief that had the offer been accepted that Mr Mandela would have had a difficult time selling it not just to the NEC but to the grassroots?

BN     Yes, to the people at the grassroots. He would have had a difficult time but I think his stature is such that he would have been able to sell it, he would have been able to do it. But when the government was so foolish as to turn that down he had no option, he dare not go any further. In fact I think he risked tremendous, very much of his whole stature and his influence even to go as far as that, but he was prepared to do that. To my mind that shows how anxious Mandela is to come to a reasonable settlement with the government.

POM     So do you think the government turned down the best offer it will ever get, that in a future negotiation the ANC will really be unable to go as far as offering a 70% veto threshold on the provision of items in the constitution?

BN     It's very difficult for me to say what will happen. All that I can assume is that Nelson Mandela now dare not go as far as that again because of the negative response on the part of the government and the three demands that have been made by Nelson last Wednesday in the Union Buildings speech are again an indication of his willingness to go out of his way in order to bring about a proper process of negotiation. Certainly it is also because the ANC has to make concessions, because neither the ANC nor the government on their own can at the present moment solve the process without negotiations again taking place. On the other hand if the ANC makes any further concessions the position of Nelson Mandela with regard to his own people will become very, very risky.

POM     So you think they have gone as far as they can go?

BN     I personally think they have gone as far as they can go. And if the government is not willing to understand that and to face that then we could have a very serious situation in our country.

POM     A number of people have said to us that when de Klerk was in trouble with the right wing that Mandela and the ANC understood his need to deal with it and during the whites only referendum it gave them the leeway to do so. They didn't come out and say, "We said there should never be another whites only election", they stood back and encouraged whites to actually go and vote yes in the referendum. They gave implicit encouragement, they didn't intrude.

BN     That is true.

POM     On the other hand the analogy would be that Mandela needed his black referendum in order to pull the disaffected elements of his own constituency back into line and to relieve the pressure from the left on him but that the government seems strangely insensitive to his need to do that, were more confrontational about the stayaway than they should have been. Do you think that is a correct assessment?

BN     I think that is a correct assessment. First of all the insensitivity on the part of the government with regard to the steps taken by the ANC, the concessions which have been made and the willingness to also make provision for this racist attitude and of the far right. But there was definitely not an equal sympathy on the part of the government with regard, for instance, to the stayaway and I think in that respect despite the tremendous economic loss which this has brought to us there is no doubt in my mind that the massive support which Mandela and the ANC and COSATU and the others were able to mobilise in many parts of the country, Pretoria and Cape Town and Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth and Durban, everywhere, and Bisho, because that's all part of the whole massive demonstration action. Hopefully it will have brought home to de Klerk and to the Cabinet and to the Nationalist Party the fact that they cannot continue to play the kind of political games that they have been trying to play up to now. It will simply not work and I may be wrong but if there is not a satisfactory solution with regard to the negotiation process taking place within the next two months we could be faced with a massive action of stayaways and strikes in the course of November in this country.

POM     So you would see rolling mass action as becoming a permanent part of the ANC strategy until some resolution is arrived at?

BN     As long as a satisfactory solution has not been obtained with regard to the whole question of violence and the interim government and the Constituent Assembly. These are the three key issues.

POM     Do you think the CODESA structure itself is a good negotiating structure or the fact that it includes so many parties that are really representative of very small constituencies skews the nature of what is called 'sufficient consensus', that the process is very flawed as long as organisations like the PAC, AZAPO and the CP for that matter, are left outside. That the time has now come to develop a new structure that will attempt to be more inclusive or do you believe that they should take up in CODESA where they left off?

BN     Let me start by saying that if you want to have a negotiation process you must include as many parties as possible. The invitation must be open to all even the smallest. But the moment you set that up you must also be aware of the fact that your process is going to be delayed or retarded by the presence of those small parties who in proportion to their numbers may have very little active public support. But they should be included and if they are not present it should be of their own wish not to be there. But now that the process has gone as far as this it seems to me that in the new structure there will have to be very clear guidelines set down and say all who now wish to participate were given the opportunity. All who now wish to participate must conform to the following basic demands and those who then decide and say they are not prepared to go in, there's nothing that one can do because they cannot be allowed to postpone or to delay the whole process of democratisation to such a degree that it becomes a greater threat, the postponement and the delay, than the fact of their non-participation. They have had time enough to sort themselves out, all of them, PAC, AZAPO, all the others.

POM     The government, while it was engaged in the CODESA talks, was also talking on the side with the PAC and with AZAPO, even encouraging AZAPO to suggest neutral venues and who they would like as a mutual convenor. It seemed they were playing two games, on the one hand they were negotiating here and on the other hand one would suspect that it wasn't being done from the best of motives.

BN     Certainly not. But I personally do not believe that one should go to the government to seek for the best of motives. That's a political game which the government is playing in, I think, the hope that they may be able to find the necessary support from your non-ANC supporters in order to strengthen their own position. I think in the Business Day this morning, I haven't had time to read it, there's again a report about the government going to have discussions now with the PAC. I've got nothing against that.

POM     Do you think the government has been bargaining in good faith?

BN     You mean with the PAC?

POM     No, at CODESA and with the ANC.

BN     It depends what you mean by good faith. Do you mean, do they really want to have a meaningful, effective democracy in South Africa?

POM     That's right.

BN     No sir, they don't want it. They only want the kind of democracy where they will be able to participate actively and where they will be playing, even behind the scenes, a very important and significant role.

POM     A suggestion was made that a 'suitable' system, I'm using 'suitable' in quotes, would be based on the lines of the US federal system with a Supreme Court, Bill of Rights, checks and balances, your executive President and your branches. Would you find that an acceptable form of democracy in South Africa or do you think it would be a form that would still allow the privileged classes to maintain too much power in their hands particularly if a lot of powers were devolved or entrenched in the constitution for the regions?

BN     Well it depends how it is set up and therefore it is very difficult for me to give an answer to that at the present moment because as far as that is concerned it seems to me that from the viewpoint of people in South Africa, I'm talking now firstly about the majority of the black community, they would wish to have a system where the ethnic principle of political control is in no way being allowed to operate effectively. Any regional approach which could be seen to be part of a federal structure which could strengthen that ethnic or racial approach and power would be viewed with tremendous suspicion by them and one should understand that because the government has been using these ethnic divisions of homelands, of so-called independent states to strengthen its own apartheid policy through the last 30 / 40 years and therefore anything which tends to be associated with that is viewed with the deepest form of suspicion by the majority of our people. It would depend how this is done and it would depend not only how the ANC accept that but also how our people at the grassroots accept it. They would, I think, be willing to consider it, but one will have to give to them a very valid reason why a unitary system of one person one vote is not acceptable, if you have in your constitution a bill of human rights and your cultural and other rights which have been ensured in a bill of human rights in the new constitution.

POM     Well a federal system would have one person one vote as in the United States. It's just that the power of the regions would be strong vis-à-vis the powers of the central government.

BN     I personally have got no problem with that if the regions could be seen to be such that they are not in the first place seen to be a kind of a facade purely for ethnic control, like for instance KwaZulu or Bophuthatswana or any of the other areas.

POM     Let's take KwaZulu because it's the best example and probably the one in which most problems or a lot of problems will arise. Has Buthelezi the capacity to be a spoiler? He sits out there, and we talked with him last week in Ulundi, and he was very bitter and insistent that the Zulu people and the Zulu King would have no part in any arrangement reached by parties sitting at CODESA or elsewhere to which the Zulu nation had not been a part. He said the one thing he would die for is federalism, that in the end the Zulu nation must have a large degree of autonomy. That is really what he was saying. Do you think that must seriously be taken into account or that there's an element of bluff here or that the way to deal with it is simply to pull away the assistance he receives from the South African government or has he the potential to be a real spoiler in this whole process and will ensure that at least in that part of South Africa violence will continue indefinitely and endemically?

BN     I can only give you my personal impressions by saying that what Buthelezi has done and with the military training which has been given and with the tremendous support both financially and secretly militarily which the government has given to Buthelezi, he feels himself to be strong enough to take that stand. If the government cuts down the finances of KwaZulu, if the government withdraws the hidden support groups, the security forces to strengthen the KwaZulu Police and the training of vigilantes has been amply cut out, then his position would become much weaker. What he could then be, he will certainly not then be a political spoiler because he will not have the support.

POM     Will not have the support of his own people?

BN     Of his own people.

POM     Are you sure of that?

BN     I'm absolutely sure of that. But what he will have is he will have the power to use the extensive secret forces of military violence against the people of South Africa and in that sense he could then create very serious problems for us. But as far as your political power is concerned, let me put it this way by saying, if there were to be a free election tomorrow and Buthelezi would be one of the candidates in a one person one vote and Inkatha members, it would be very interesting to see how many votes they would receive.

POM     Across the country?

BN     Across the country.

POM     How about in KwaZulu?

BN     Across the country including KwaZulu. He will be able certainly through forms of pressure and intimidation to mobilise, I would say, substantial support for himself in, for instance, such an election but I think the main reason why he is in favour of federalism is because he's terribly afraid that if this were to be an open free election he will simply not get the support that he claims that he has. I think all the surveys which have been undertaken up till now, also including Natal, shows a very limited and declining support for him also within Natal, including KwaZulu.

POM     Coming to this question of free and fair elections, it's like a chicken and an egg here, is that most people we've talked with agree that you couldn't have free and fair elections now, that the level of violence is simply too high and the level of intimidation would be too high. Do you wait to bring the violence under control before an election or is the lack of an election itself part of the cause of the violence and at what point do you see it feasible to have an election that can be looked at and regarded as being free and fair? What pre-conditions must be met first?

BN     Let me say that I believe that we will have to face the fact that we have created so much violence in South Africa and allowed the climate of violence to continue to such a degree that within the next two to three years it will be very difficult to have any election without some form of intimidation which could possibly be accompanied by violence. We will have to accept that as part of the reality of South Africa. But it is much more dangerous if we do not have an election and I believe that the presence, for instance, of a whole programme of well sought out, presence of monitors, independent, international monitors under the auspices of the United Nations, and they may also call in others to assist them, that will in any case diminish the danger of such a situation. But it has to be done because if it is not done then the situation in South Africa, to my mind, will become increasingly difficult and violent.

POM     Two last questions, one involves the Goldstone Commission which is held in high regard, I think, by most people with whom we talked but it has come out and said there's no evidence to link the security forces or the government or de Klerk with any of the violence taking place.

BN     In those areas where he had that interim report.

POM     That's correct.

BN     Please check that very carefully. He refers specifically to those six areas. He did not refer to it in general. That he said and that is true. He said no evidence was placed before him and Goldstone, as far as I know him, is a very objective, is a very impartial and he's a very competent Judge and he would certainly, as far as I know him, he would certainly not allow himself to be compromised by anybody from any side.

POM     So you don't see his saying that there's no direct evidence to link the government to A, B, C and D as being exoneration of the government?

BN     No I don't, I don't see it to be that. I don't see it to be that at all because he was reflecting very clearly the evidence which was placed before him and with the evidence placed before him he had no option but to come to that conclusion. And that the ANC and the government and all the others should understand. But equally, the latest recommendation which he has now made that, the Goldstone Commission with the United Nations, there should now be an extensive investigation including the security forces and all the others including ANC and Inkatha. I think that's a very, very important and significant proposal which he has made and I sincerely hope that he will be taken seriously because whoever responds negatively to that gives the impression that he or she has something to hide. And if the ANC is guilty or partly guilty of any form of violence either inside or outside South Africa that must come out. We can never have in South Africa a situation of stability and trust as long as there's the feeling among a representative group of our community, either black or white, either Inkatha or ANC or security forces or anybody else, that some part of the truth has been hidden.

POM     So in that context how would you react to, it would seem, the recommendation of Boutros Ghali that there's a general amnesty, that instead of across the board right wing, SADF, ANC prisoners, amnesty for everyone and look for a fresh start?

BN     If you want to give amnesty to one group or if you want to accept the principle of amnesty, that principle must go for all. You cannot have a selective form of amnesty. What I do think is important is that if possible there should be tied to that a very in-depth discussion by Goldstone and by the United Nations of what would be the nature of the amnesty, who would be involved and then with those criteria acceptable that should be applied equally and objectively to all the people concerned from whatever side.

POM     I think the ANC are saying, "We would qualify that by saying even if you give amnesty you still must find out what happened." In other words the dirty things that happened in the past must be exposed. You may forgive them but they must be exposed.

BN     Let me say I take that stand not as somebody who is in any way sympathetic to the ANC, I take that stand on the basis of my understanding of the Christian faith and the concept of truth. If you really have to have meaningful reconciliation you can only have it if, first of all, injustice has been exposed, if a confession of that injustice has been made, if at least some form of what one may call the Christian term of repentance has been offered and then real reconciliation emerges as a result of that. Without that there will always be some form of bitterness, of anger, of resentment, of the root which is there which could create again in future, future forms of violence. And the history of the Afrikaner people proves that very effectively.

POM     OK. Thank you.

PAT     I have one question. The issue on the other side becomes the exposure of a great many people in society who were intimidated into informing on people. Doesn't that process of exposure of everything, of all the files, etc., have a potential consequence of back-firing?

BN     I would put it this way by saying the investigation should not necessarily lead to the publication of all that information but where people feel that they have been specifically intimidated or harmed or persecuted, that they should have the opportunity to say this should be done. But the measure of the sense of forgiveness that I've discovered in the black community is still so overwhelming I cannot understand it, because if I think of my own people, the Afrikaner people, they never would have allowed so much injustice to have been done against us and leave it at that.

     And I'm not saying this to protect or in any way speak favourably of the black community but I can cite you hundreds and hundreds of cases where blacks have come forward, where they were detained, where they were tortured, where they were dealt with in the grossest forms of injustice and where acknowledgement was made, a confession was made but a at a request for forgiveness there was an immediate positive response. It's incredible. I don't understand it. It's part I think of the whole African mentality and my problem is that this has been exploited by the government but if it is handled properly there is no doubt in my mind that you will not need to have all these things published. The main thing to me mind is that the people will feel at last justice is being done, at last the many forms of injustice and intimidation and of suffering which our people have gone through are taken seriously by the community. If they've got the sense that that is being taken seriously I'm convinced that by and large the people will say, "Well now with that being the case let bygones be bygones."

     And then it is at that point that the churches and the religious organisations must play a very active role. Then they must come forward and then they can demand that the people forgive in the light of what has now happened. Now more than ever there has to be mediation, there has to be reconciliation, there has to be peace. But we cannot come forward to ask that of our community as long as some confession of some kind has not been made. How do I ask the people of Alexandra just to forgive and forget of what is happening day after day if there is not some action of that kind? If that comes then we can go to our people and we can say to them, "Now, OK, let's have a coming together, let's have a wonderful service of mediation and reconciliation, let's start to eat a meal."

POM     Thank you.

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.