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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

22 Nov 1993: Chalmers, Judy

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POM     Judy, we missed you last year, you were on a trip to foreign parts. Could you give me a sense of what that trip was about? You mentioned some of the people who were on it.

JC     Yes as a member of the ANC I sit on a back-up committee that has been looking at local government and looking at how to bring Port Elizabeth, which has been a very divided city, into the situation where it is one municipality. Port Elizabeth in fact has led the field in South Africa in moving towards reintegrating itself into one municipality with a common tax base, one city. So that was taking people mainly from the ANC, it was organised by the Human Rights Trust, looking at local government in Washington - we went to Washington, Berlin, Moscow, New York and Berne in Switzerland. I think there were 22 ANC members, four DP members of the City Council here in Port Elizabeth and the four top bureaucrats in PE, the City Treasurer, the City Engineer, the Town Clerk and the City Administrator, and then we also had people with us from some of the rural areas, a women from Port Alfred, from Graaff Reinet, from Bedford, people who had never really moved away from the community base so it was very much a major experience for them and for us to be with them as we looked at how some of the major cities of the world were managing local government, particularly Berlin and Moscow, in a transition period. It was very interesting.

POM     How about the mix of people who were on the trip and their inter-relationships?

JC     On the whole we got on very well. There were a few clashes that had to do with personal styles more than anything. People shared rooms, we all shared rooms. There were six women and we shared accommodation, we had double rooms. The Town Clerk was sharing with a Comrade from the SACP and on the whole I think people formed relationships. I think that was really the major plus that came out of the trip, that we formed relationships that enabled us that when we got back to our own city to approach one another on a personal basis and I think some trust was formed during the trip. We still get together and meet and now if I've got a query about something that is happening in local government I feel comfortable ringing up the Town Clerk and so it goes. I think that trip was probably very much a factor in the fact that PE is ahead of the other cities in terms of local government.

POM     Now you had mentioned earlier this Major Danie Badenhorst. I'd just like you to tell that story again.

JC     Well that happened in 1988 when a group of about 30 of us went up to Lusaka to meet the ANC and talk through policy issues, just to really meet one another and it was a very successful trip. It was over a long weekend and we had three hard days meeting, we met Joe Slovo and Thabo Mbeki. It was while Oliver Tambo had had a stroke but quite a minor one so he spent time, he chaired one of the sessions and it was wonderful spending that time with him when he was still in full possession of his faculties. Anyway when we got back the morning after we returned there was a knock at 5 o'clock in the morning, it was in mid-winter, on my front door and there were four security policemen and a policewoman who then proceeded to search our house in great depth. I hadn't brought back any subversive literature with me because I'm not that stupid and so there was really nothing much to find except that in my study I did have a lot of the original, the primary documents that we collected in Black Sash over the years from people we were taking statements from during the state of emergency so I was a little bit nervous about that, but it was not banned literature. Anyway they spent all this time with us and when I had to get dressed the woman came into the bathroom with me and watched me dress, they searched through our underwear. It was one of those really - quite a nasty experience. It hadn't happened to me in that sort of depth before.

     Anyway, now we find ourselves in 1993 and I sit on the local Peace Committee with the Major who headed that team that searched my house in 1988 and I in fact don't let him get away with it. When we, the Sash, had the launch of our new vision statement this year I invited Danie to come and he had a very nice time, in fact I think he was the last to leave but we had many township people, from the ANC, from the community based organisations and everybody I introduced him to I said, "Now this is the guy who searched my house in 1988", and he said, "Ja, well, those were different times", and he took it in good spirit and we've now become quite good friends. I know about some of his family problems and we've got a good basis for a relationship.

POM     Since we've talked to you last how far has South Africa come?

JC     I think an enormous way over the last two years. I think we have progressed in every way and in many aspects to everybody's surprise. I feel really quite proud to be a South African now which I haven't had that sensation for many years but I think people have sat down together, they've worked together, there's been a lot of horse dealing going on but that was inevitable. I think at a local level here we've seen the changes in local government. I think there have been relationships of trust being established. I think you see that with the bureaucracies, I think you see it with the South African Police and the South African Defence Force and I think you also see it just in ordinary white perceptions. I think there is a lot of fear. Perhaps we are luckier in the Eastern Cape than in many other areas because there isn't the violence here. There's an enormous amount of criminal activity but there isn't the political violence mainly perhaps because this is politically a very unified area. This is the heartland of the ANC, there's an element of PAC but there is no Inkatha Freedom Party, well there is a branch of the Inkatha Freedom Party which is managed by a white Afrikaner called Mr Rautenbach, but there just isn't the political violence and I think people just want the election to come and go and they want to get on with their lives and they hope, perhaps optimistically, that once the political situation has become clearer to the world there will be an input of foreign finances which gives everybody the hope that maybe South Africa will finally be able to become the country that can fulfil its potential. So I think there have been enormous changes.

POM     What is your understanding of what was agreed to in Kempton Park last week?

JC     Well I'm no constitutional expert but I think the whole plan for a Transitional Executive Council looks promising. I think there are aspects of it that one is perhaps somewhat uncomfortable with like the single vote. I think here in the Eastern Cape we are worried about the regional boundaries and I think there is enormous concern about that because it affects people's pockets. I think the new dispensation for the police looks encouraging and for the South African Defence Force. I think, thank goodness, the Supreme Court, the method of nominating people for the Supreme Court has come round to being a far more democratic way than it was a week ago, so that's helpful. I'm sure there's so much horse trading going on.

     I've been quite involved in the Goniwe Inquest that has been running down here for months and that too has been a most interesting situation where you have an ex-SADF officer who sent the original message for Matthew Goniwe and three other Cradock leaders to be assassinated, the outcome of the message looks as though it led to their being assassinated in very, very, terrible circumstances. The man who sent the message has been the chief witness in the Goniwe Inquest and has admitted to sending the message and the scenario has been that on the one side you had the South African Police Senior Counsel and on the other side the South African Defence Force Senior Counsel each trying to blame each other for the eventual outcome, for the fact that Matthew Goniwe was murdered. Subsequent to the murder there were three black security policemen and an informer were blown up in a car in 1990, clearly it was an inside job and they were blown away very likely because of knowledge that they had and we now realise probably knowledge that they had about the Goniwe murder. So the South African Defence Force have latched on to this to blame the police and the police are saying, "No, no you had just as much ability to assassinate Matthew Goniwe as we did", so it's like a hot potato being thrown from one to the other and the man who finally agreed to the message, General Joffel van der Westhuizen who is head of Military Intelligence in the whole of South Africa, and we have been very fearful that there has been some horse trading going on with General van der Westhuizen and that he will get away with the fact that he ultimately was responsible for sending that message and we're not sure that that won't happen.

     But on the other hand through this has come an exposure, mainly because of this Lourens du Plessis who was the Colonel who sent the message, there has been an exposure of the methodologies, the way of working, the dirty tricks that went on in the eighties that has been quite remarkable and it fell to me to sit quite often with Colonel Lourens du Plessis because of the fact that his own lawyers could not sit with him during the breaks when he was in the witness box so it fell to my lot to give him moral support. He's a man who has had quite a history of a drinking problem and there was fear that he might not quite manage it in the witness box so I used to sit with him, took him home for lunch, etc. and he told me some of the things that were done during the mid-eighties that really amazed and shocked me. We knew there were dirty tricks going on but we didn't know the amounts of money that were put into it, we didn't know the technology that was being given to it in terms of the pamphlets. They had a printing machine, the pamphlets that were being issued, the anti-consumer boycott pamphlets, the anti-UDF pamphlets were all coming from this one source and in fact this one man. So it has been an interesting past six months for me because I have been sitting in at most of that trial.

POM     Could you give us an example of what were some of the more shocking things, because you knew there were dirty tricks so what was beyond dirty tricks that so shocked you?

JC     Just on a personal basis something that shocked me was the fact that my husband and Rory Riordan had a paint business that they had been running, they had been involved with for many years and they took into their employ Mkhasillie Jack and other activists at the time and Mkhasillie Jack was the person who was co-ordinating the consumer boycott really against apartheid during 1985 and Lourens du Plessis master-minded the campaign to bring my husband's business down, and Rory Riordan's, and it is so strange at this time one finds oneself stepping back in history and forward into the present all the time as you come across people who have played a role over the years and you are now able to match two and two and make four out of things that before had not seemed, things that you knew were happening, things you suspected were happening, suddenly now parts of the jigsaw are being put into place. So that was something else that Lourens du Plessis did.

     Joffel van der Westhuizen put in place a civilian unit called Hammer that operated during the 1980s. They were created to be able to react quickly when there was a need for undercover work and we still don't know the extent that Hammer played but there have even been suspicions that they might have played a role in the death of my sister because they had a unit that was nearby to the place where we had the accident in December 1985. What I plan to do is sit with Lourens du Plessis with a tape recorder and just go through that time with him. I think it would be interesting and I think one could learn a lot from it because now he is prepared to talk.

POM     This brings up the whole question of amnesty and indemnity on the one hand and on the other hand the situation you had in East Germany and Czechoslovakia where people were given access to the files the security forces had on them and were able to learn the names of the individuals who had been informants and very often it was husband being informant against wife or brother against brother or whatever and it became a matter of terrific divisiveness in both East Germany and Czechoslovakia. What are your personal feelings on that whole question?

JC     A lot of the same trial that I referred to I sat with Mrs Goniwe who is the widow of Matthew Goniwe and she has said to me time and again that they are not looking at punishment, what they want is the truth. They want to know what happened, how it happened, why it happened and I think that is behind much of people's desire to know the names and the actions of the people, the CCB, the security police, the torturers, they want to know why it happened and how it happened, the disappearances, the assassinations. As far as revenge - I have a great fear and a certainty in fact that much of the information will have already been trashed. I am sure of that. I know Brian Curran of Lawyers for Human Rights has again and again called for the freezing of all files and documentation so as far as history is concerned, partly for history but also for the individuals who suffered during the apartheid era for them to have access to those files, for the files to be open to public scrutiny so that people can know what happened, for children to know what their father's history was and for us to learn a very salient lesson of how not to go into - I don't know that we learn from history but I just would feel much more comfortable if I knew those files were still in existence.

POM     If there were a file on you, I assume there is, besides being able to read the contents of the file would you wish to know who had supplied information about you and at what time or would you be satisfied with knowing this was the information that was collected on you?

JC     Well, for instance, our Advice Office was twice burnt, the second time in 1988 when they poured petrol through the window next to my desk and threw a match in and we lost a lot of information. I would jolly well like to know who did that. I think historically you would probably find it was very few people because the fewer the people the safer the operation. You'd probably find there weren't very many who were involved in those covert operations in the Eastern Cape. I mean Dirk Coetzee was involved in a few of the incidents but I think for it to be useful and for it to be historic you need to know the names. I think also one of the things that has been mooted as a possible way of dealing with the people who were involved is that they just must not in future hold public office and in order for that to happen we must know who they are. I would be very happy, even though I think he's a brilliant soldier and probably a man who like Louis Botha was just carrying out instructions, but I think a man like General Joffel van der Westhuizen I would be more comfortable I think if he was not the head of Military Intelligence in a future South Africa.

PAT     We were really talking about people who were in the townships who were part of an informer's network, who did it for money, young people. Do you think they should be exposed?

JC     That's a difficult one. I don't know. I don't know whether you stick to officialdom, people who were doing it because if you start investigating the impimpis that's another whole can of worms. The people themselves know, there are people quite high up in the Youth Movement and people say, "Indeed they were informers but we have forgiven them but we know." The people themselves in the communities know and knew who the informers were. Maybe there were mistakes and that's always another problem because there were mistakes made, there were people necklaced and who died appalling deaths and mistakes were made but I don't know whether that would serve a useful end to start a witch hunt. No I don't think so really. I don't think so.

POM     To go back to the constitution for a moment. When talks deadlocked last year it was over the issue of what they called the deadlock breaking mechanism, what mechanism would be used to break the stalemate if the Constituent Assembly couldn't agree on a constitution. From your reading and knowledge of the constitution, do you know what that is?

JC     I'm not clear really now what the deadlock breaking mechanism is.

POM     Do you know also another factor which received prominence and then seemed to disappear, how decisions would be made within the Cabinet? Whether they would be made on the basis of 51%?

JC     It's now 60% isn't it?

POM     I don't know.

JC     I think so. I think it is now 60%. I still have to read the draft, I don't think anybody really has read it yet, so I'm not clear on that. I agree, I think there are an awful lot of very important questions that ordinary people like myself just, as you say, that seem to have slipped away.

POM     You're not ordinary. You're educated and in a different sort of strata than most people.

JC     Perhaps slightly more informed than the average. And, too, I am a member of the ANC, but I'm not very clear on quite a lot.

POM     I've been asking this question of everybody, some of them in quite high positions in the ANC itself and I'm just met with blank stares as though a lot of matters that could create potential trouble were just shifted aside.

JC     Didn't Govan Mbeki have comment on that?

POM     No he said he hadn't studied the documents in detail.

PAT     Quite an interesting thing is that some of these issues on which CODESA 2 broke down are now getting resolved in a way that nobody knows how they have gotten resolved.

JC     It's quite scary isn't it? It is really quite scary and I'm sure it's what happened throughout history and only when you find that there's another war on your hands do you think, "If only we had actually made sure of that thing." So I think it's a very good question. Now maybe you're helping change history by making us go back and say, "What has happened?"

POM     I think that's not a very good thing! Taking what you know of the constitutional proposals and the TEC and the Electoral Bill on a scale of one to ten where would you rank all these proposals and propositions in terms of the degree to which you are satisfied with them? Ten representing very, very satisfied and zero representing very, very unsatisfied.

JC     I'm just so happy that they've come through that maybe my percentage is weighted by the relief I feel that the fact that there is actually going to be an election. I'm very uncomfortable with the fact that the Freedom Alliance is there at all but with the fact that they are being so hard line and even more so with Buthelezi who I think is a huge problem as far as South Africa is concerned. But I'd rate it at about a six I think. More plusses than minuses but I'll be happier when we have had a chance to actually workshop it and see what it means and what it means for us and what it means for people as far as the Black Sash is concerned, what it means for ordinary people in terms of human rights and where it leaves them. Our struggle to get welfare on to the agenda of the political parties is going to be enormous because there is so much politicking going on and ordinary people's problems - I really have no knowledge yet how it's going to change their lives and not in the next century, how their quality of life will become better over the next five years.

POM     What do you think the average person living in a township has the right to expect of a government of national unity after five years?

JC     So much will depend on the economy. I think in terms of local government I think the ordinary township person can expect some improvements. I think they can expect more electricity, I think they can expect better water. I think they will have more of a say at a local level in addressing their problems. I think we will have a City Council here that will have representation from all the political parties and just the ordinary people will be far better represented and have a far bigger say. I think from the white ratepayers point of view it's going to be very traumatic because they will be having to quite some extent finance the disaster areas of our city. So I think there will be an improvement in services which must be an improvement for them and I think they will have the ability to participate in a much greater way at local level and I think there's just so much excitement about. Because we're doing a lot of voter education, I think there's so much excitement about the vote and I think there are definitely expectations that are not going to be realised and there will be anger at the speed of progress and the fact that they feel that things are not happening at a rate that is really making a difference to them, but I think there will be an improvement in their quality of life but whether there will be jobs, that's really the bottom line, is something else.

POM     In March of 1992 de Klerk hit the peak of his popularity with winning the referendum and it looked as though the white right was demoralised, discredited and in a shambles, they didn't know what to do and some 18 months later you find that whereas the National Party stood at about 28% in surveys at that time it's now down to 12% or 11%, it's base seems extraordinarily fragmented and de Klerk has lost that touch he had in the first couple of years of being the one who made all the going. What happened?

JC     I just think it must be extraordinarily difficult, I mean stamina is what it's all about. I think perhaps for him it's taken too long. Mandela still seems to be able, even though I don't think he's a particularly healthy man, he still seems to be able to, and I think he's made some big mistakes, but I think he still manages to hold the people, hold his followers and with de Klerk there seems to have been a disenchantment. It's hard to really say, he himself seems to have weakened. I don't think his confidence has - I don't think he's feeling that he's doing the correct thing and the right thing and that has weakened him but he seems to have, as you say, lost his touch and I haven't really thought of analysing why.

     My personal feeling as far as the elections are concerned, I think that the National Party will get more than the present poll surveys are showing. We notice here in our Coloured community they have quite a following there and perhaps because this was also the heartland of the Labour Party, of Allan Hendrickse, although Allan Hendrickse himself is now avowed ANC. I think a lot of people will vote Nationalist Party because they perceive them as the government and they think that's where the money is and they know that the bureaucrats are still going to be predominantly Nationalist Party followers. So I think as far as the Nationalist Party is concerned this dropping off, I suppose he's perceived as a sell-out by so many Afrikaners who somehow thought he was going to swing it and again to keep white power in a way that would not change the status quo, really wouldn't change their lives. That was unrealistic.

     I was in Cape Town last week and with a South African who now lives in New Orleans, he's a lawyer and he was educated at Stellenbosch and he had spent quite a lot of time there and he says the people who he has come across who are upper middle class, educated middle class, all seem very resigned and just say, "Now we just want to be able to get on with our lives and let's get on with the elections and get on with it." I feel quite optimistic in that way. I don't know whether de Klerk is going to last too long in the transition period. I don't know what you are picking up on that. That charisma and confidence that came across so strongly from him seems to have withered away whereas people like Roelf Meyer particularly, Tertius Delport who is not my best thing at all, but others seem to have that iron that's bringing them through this period.

POM     With the Freedom Alliance there have been suggestions in the last couple of days, or at least since last week, that if the Freedom Alliance held itself together or ran on separate tickets, Buthelezi on the one hand and the white right wing on the other, that they could well end up with being in second place ahead of the National Party and therefore would have one of the Deputy Presidencies and would be in a position to sabotage from within. Do you think that is a real likelihood or just one of these 'stories of the week' things?

JC     The IFP isn't in the election yet, but people still seem to think that they may well come in although I've heard that it will depend to an extent what the King does because apparently the Executive will never go against Buthelezi unless the King distances himself from Buthelezi and it will depend on people like Walter Felgate whether he loses that hold that he seems to have over Buthelezi. I think Constand Viljoen is an interesting man and I think that he is making quite conciliatory noises. He's certainly not of the same ilk as Ferdi Hartzenberg and Tom Langley and those Conservative Party types who seem to hold on to Afrikanerdom in a very destructive sort of way. I think that Constand Viljoen makes a different sort of impact on the picture. If it wasn't for him I would be more pessimistic than I am about the role of the Freedom Alliance. Gqozo is finished I would say. Mangope, if it wasn't for Sol Kerzner and I'm quite surprised that Sol Kerzner continues in the style that he does in aligning himself with Mangope.

POM     Sorry, this is who?

JC     Sol Kerzner. You know the Sun City guy, Bophuthatswana. He holds the purse strings in Bophuthatswana so he controls Mangope to quite a large extent but I think both Mangope probably and Gqozo certainly will soon not be really major factors in the Freedom Alliance so then what are you left with? The CP, the Volksfront and there's a lot of - I don't think they'll ever really act in a sufficiently unified way for a sufficient length of time for them to play the role that you are thinking is possible.

POM     From which do you think the bigger threat will come? From Buthelezi or from what I'll just term collectively the white right wing?

JC     As far as the possibility of there being a Deputy President?

POM     No in terms of if Buthelezi stays outside the process will the result be an unstable South Africa coming into existence from which foreign investors will distance themselves in droves or must a way be found of accommodating him?

JC     I think if he doesn't come in there will probably be a referendum around secession and I'm amazed always that he still has the white support in Natal that he does have although I believe that within his Executive there are a number of whites who are extremely uncomfortable with the fact that he has pulled out of the negotiation process. I think the white right wing could start some sort of an IRA type operation which is enormously damaging because so few people are needed to do a tremendous amount of damage and they have clearly got the weapons and got the instruments to do this. For some of them they see it as a holy war and I think that would be very scary and I think it certainly would frighten away investors.

POM     So would you take this threat of violence from the white right more seriously than from the ...?

JC     I think not if I lived in Natal but I don't think you can quantify it really, they both could do an enormous amount of damage.

POM     Could you see a situation if the white right did engage in this IRA-like activity where it takes very few to cause enormous damage and kill a lot of people and tie down a lot of security forces, could you see a situation where a new government, shortly after it took office, it had to declare a state of emergency, bring in detention laws to cope with the situation?

JC     I would hope not but I think within the constitution there will have to be, it is far better to have laws that would encompass a state of emergency set in place beforehand rather than find yourself in a situation where there would have to be a state of emergency and not the legislation that could manage it in a way that it is least damaging to, hopefully, human rights culture and I think the same thing happens with detention laws. There must never be detention laws as was Section 29 where there was no access to lawyers, no access to family, where the names were not published. I think if there were to be detention laws it would have to be clearly set out, perhaps ten days, access to lawyers, access to family, names to be published and it could be used as a cooling off period. I'm not comfortable with it at all, but I've heard it discussed in quite some depth and that seems to be the thinking of lawyers and people in the human rights movement that it is better to have laws in place that could manage it in the least damaging way than just to find yourself in a situation.

POM     Make up the laws as you go along.

JC     Yes, that's right. It goes against the grain to even think along those lines but I guess it's sensible.

POM     Just to return to Buthelezi, a lot of people said that all you have to do to deal with the Buthelezis of the world or the Mangopes is to pull the financial strings and cut off their funding and that brings everything to a halt. To your knowledge is Zulu nationalism a real thing? Is it a real thing that Buthelezi, with the backing of the King, can draw on to either secede or to create conditions under which a new government would have to do some very serious bargaining with him?

JC     It's very hard for me to comment on that because Mandela speaks at a rally in mid-Natal and he gets enormous support and I only hear, probably because of my Sash connections and friends I have, I mostly hear about the anti-Buthelezi feeling. He's diabetic, people say his temper is sometimes very unpredictable, he's about 65 or 66 now but clearly a frustrated and in many ways humiliated man and I think he is dangerous and I think in Natal there are so many of those ex-colonial types that still think that they can go it alone, but I don't know how rational it is and I couldn't really comment on whether secession is a realistic possibility. But I've heard that it would certainly be a consideration for him because I think he's lost his hope of national leadership and so the regional option must be the one for him. But the war talk and the talk of civil war I think is hideous, absolutely hideous and I am amazed that there are people around him who go along with it. I think many parts of Natal are really very, very terrible. I sit on a Board in Johannesburg called the Independent Board of Investigation into Informal Repression and Peter Kerchoff from Natal comes up, he's in the Anglican Church in Natal, and the things he tells us of absolute - violence is always the first option, it's real anarchy there. It will be a hit and then a counter hit and then another counter one and everybody's lost sight of the original reason for the first strike or for the first act and the warlords here who Buthelezi does certainly encourage and it's all territorial and positively medieval really in many ways.

POM     Is Peter Kerchoff - where is he in Natal?

JC     He's in Pietermaritzburg and I can't remember the name of the organisation he belongs to but he works with the Anglican Church in Natal. He's a very good person.

POM     You wouldn't have a telephone number for him?

JC     I might have. I would either have it here or in my thing at home. He'd be a very valuable person for you to talk to.

POM     One of the things we've become particularly interested in is in the dynamics of the violence and whether or not it can be brought under control not only before an election but after an election, whether it has now gathered a force and a momentum that must play itself out over a number of years.

JC     And whether people will be too afraid to go to the polls. If the IFP doesn't come in I can't think that anybody will be allowed to vote up there. It's the same with Bophuthatswana. They are saying that you don't have to be a South African citizen to vote, you can come in with a homeland passport and people will come out of Bophuthatswana to vote but the repression there is so high that what will happen to them when they go back, that is a major worry.

PAT     Why when the story is told about Natal, and maybe it's just the people that we know as well, is it always told as the IFP story and not as the ANC. They say it takes two sides to fight a civil war and what you see is simply one side against the other side. What do you think are the dynamics of that? Do you think it's just that the IFP has terrible publicity agents in terms of how they do this?

JC     It's quite funny because they had Laurens van der Post, you remember Laurens van der Post that quite special old chappie who's written so much about the Bushmen and he's a great friend of Buthelezi's and he's had two interviews on SATV a little while ago and he's now 86 or 87 or something and he's godfather of one of Prince Charles' children I think as a man who has seen life in many ways, he was in Japanese prisoner of war camp during the war and was tortured but he thinks that Buthelezi has been maligned and run down and publicity given him is so slanted, but that's not what one hears from people who live there. I hear probably anti-Inkatha or anti-Buthelezi, that's the sort of information I mostly do get but then I think it seems to be, everybody says it's stemming from him. It's his encouragement of the warlords. He could stop it if he really wanted to.

POM     He promotes himself as a devout Christian who abhors violence of every kind. Where was it the other day we saw a photograph of him and he was crying and he was talking about ...

PAT     In Dennis Worrall's office, it was a photo from a couple of years ago.

POM     But it was Buthelezi crying and he was talking about the violence that was going on and the necessity to stop it. So one finds it difficult. As Patricia put it, if there are two sides involved in a conflict it's very easy to pick one side as the noble side and the other side as the bad side and we've wondered - if one goes through the lists of Inkatha people who have been killed over the last couple of years one could certainly make the case that there has been a calculated campaign to destroy middle level Inkatha leadership. And that's why I would like to talk to Peter because if the violence really depends on dynamics that are outside of his control, I mean does he have full control over the warlords?

JC     It may be so. People don't say really that he can stop it but they say it won't stop as long as he is there which is something different.

POM     But he is the person who suggested that he and Mandela do joint tours together and make appeals for peace and the ANC has never taken him up on that.

JC     But they say something different of course, so you're right, it's where you stand. But Peter will say there have been terrible acts on both sides and it's the same people, it's people within a village who have lived alongside each other for years, for decades and something will come in and suddenly the dynamic will change and then there will be trouble. It's so easy to contrive from both sides, for the one side maybe to see that Inkatha are gaining some ground there so to undermine that and for the same thing to happen.

     It happens in the PWV area with the hostels and it's the same situation. You just don't know how much of it is manipulated and how many agents provocateurs there are involved because that is so I am quite sure. Where there are peaceful areas on the PWV and then suddenly there will be a drive-by killing and some of the documentation that we have had from our researchers on the Independent Board who are in there all the time has been really remarkable especially about the hostels. Our one researcher particularly, she has now had to pull out a bit because it's becoming terribly, terribly stressful, but she was just in there all the time on the East Rand and the documentation that has come out of that is amazing and what a role the police are playing up there, especially the ISUs. Time and again requests are made to them in a timely fashion and they just don't respond and they're not there or they go somewhere else and you wonder how much of the violence is manipulated. We are just so lucky down here.

POM     We've a couple of families in Thokoza, the other part of what we're doing since we talked to you last is that I now have ten families ranging from a rich conservative family living in Zeerust to an African family living in a shack in Orange Farm and every colour and income group in between. I interview all these families extensively two or three times a year, aunts, uncles, siblings, whoever is in the circle of the family to get a sense of what is happening to ordinary people while this is going on and we have one family in Thokoza to whom we have had great difficulty getting access to this time because they don't want us there, not just for our safety but for their safety too.

PAT     They are sympathetic to the ANC.

POM     Then we also have a family that is IFP with a quite remarkable woman, her name is Gertrude Mzizi and what she would tell you about the atrocities that have been visited on them ...

JC     Now is she on the Executive of the IFP?

PAT     Not on the Executive of the IFP but in the Thokoza area her husband is Chairman of the branch and she is head of the Women's League. So in that particular area, they live in a home there, their membership is the people who live in the hostels. She's on the Peace Committee.

POM     But it's extraordinary because if you hear things that she tells with such passion and intensity you say this person must be telling the truth and this must be the way it is. Then of course you cross the street and you get an entirely different version of events told with the same degree of passion of intensity. Would there be any way of getting hold of some of the documentation of that Commission?

JC     You can go to the office. I'll give you the number. If you phone and speak to Sally Sealy, and another person who I think would be useful for you to talk to is Paul Verryn. He's a Methodist Minister who lives in Soweto. He has five parishes there. He's been involved in peace action for some years and he's very much in touch with Soweto dynamics and what is happening there. He's a remarkable man. It's called the Independent Board of Investigation into Informal Repression and the number is 4033256 or 7. They'll probably want to know what you're going to do with it but Sally Sealy is the person to talk to there. It came into being at the time when Frank Chikane was poisoned. I don't know if you remember? And there were a lot of covert operations going on that were not official and there was a decision taken to have an Institute that looked into the hit squads. The other people who come regularly to that are John Dugard and Brian Curran, Sheena Duncan and Brother Jude from the Catholic church, SACC, and Max Coleman also from HRC and they do very, very interesting work.

POM     And the cleric's name is?

JC     Paul Verryn and you can get him at the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg which is 3375938. I've got a meeting at 5.30 so I must go.

POM     Thank you every so much. Fascinating.

JC     I ramble on but I'll be back home by 7 or just after and then I can give that to you. Peter would be very useful. He's a very nice man too.

PAT     Is this one of the areas in the boundary demarcation that they have opened up the local option for referendums when you said ...?

JC     What's going to happen here at the election it will be voted as one region but the votes will be counted separately apparently. It's all very strange I don't really understand it.

PAT     So that later one could break off?

JC     Well the Eastern Cape, the businessmen, everybody, the DP, everyone except the ANC wants it to be a separate region, for Ciskei, Transkei to be part of the Border region and for the Eastern Cape to be, well it's region D which stretches right up to De Aar and then they want PE to be the capital and the ANC has ideas that maybe it could be one big region so that the Transkei and Ciskei would have more of an industrial base and have Kingwilliamstown as the capital which freaks the PE businessmen absolutely out of their minds.

POM     It would also be making it much more a Xhosa region.

JC     Yes, yes, very much.

POM     Interestingly again for their opposition to ethnically driven boundaries.

JC     I'm quite torn on it because I love Port Elizabeth. I was born and bred here and I don't want it to be sucked into an absolutely hopeless situation so I'm also being a bit ethnic I think.

PAT     ... the candidates for the regional legislature, like in the ANC?

JC     That's what we're all trying to find out. And how they are going to be doing it for our City Council.

PAT     When is that, October, November?

JC     It's going to be so interesting because the Mayor at the moment gets R8000-00 a month and he's an absolute nerd. I'm trying to think how he can be a middle-aged nerd, he's really useless. So, no, what they're planning is if they have 100 councillors, 50 from the statutory and 50 from the non-statutory section it will come down to everybody receiving a salary of about R700-00 a month, so the white Nationalist Party and CP City Councillors are fighting like anything on all sorts of different options and there's a real battle going on. So much of it just comes down to personalities and leadership and we've actually got really good local government leadership here and they carry the whole thing. Rory is one of them. Then there's that tension, that black and white tension that white intellectuals are masterminding the process yet again and people like Rory would be seen as being somewhat arrogant and somewhat manipulative perhaps so there are so many different dynamics.

POM     Thank you ever so much.

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.