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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
01 Apr 1996: Mufamadi, Sydney
POM Before I get around to asking you questions on safety and security I would just like your reaction to a couple of issues that have come to my attention, have stood out for me while I have been here in the last couple of months. One is the Professor Magkoba affair. What does the passion that the whole issue took on and the emotions that it raised and its resolution, or lack of resolution, say?
SM It's such a wide-ranging interview we're having.
POM But we always had a wide-ranging interview. What does it say about the state of race relations in the country?
SM I understand that the so-called Magkoba affair arose in the context of an ongoing debate within the University of Witwatersrand, the necessity to transform that university and as you are well aware the academics will just be really one of the role players in a process of transforming an institution like that of Wits University. You have got the workers, you have got the students and of course you have got the community out there. I can't be expected to have followed that in detail as to what all the aspects which gave rise to the tensions and so on were. It's not my line function. But I understand that whatever problems there were for instance between Prof. Magkoba and thirteen of his colleagues have been resolved and I can only say that is good for the university because indeed one wouldn't want to see a situation where differences amongst academics themselves stand in the way of the greater mission that institutions of learning face, the mission to transform themselves, to bring themselves into line with the democratic dispensation in the country.
POM OK, let me ask questions that are more directly related to your line function. Last year when I was here the papers were flooded with references to crime and President Mandela when he opened parliament in 1995 vowed to crack crime, yet from people that I have spoke to at every level in every community, there would appear to them to be no significant improvement in the level of crime, that it is still as pervasive as it was and that in many cases it's increasing, not under more control.
SM Well I think there is increased reporting of crime or about crime in the media, but that does not necessarily reflect an increase in levels of crime in the country. I think we must make a distinction between increased concern, increased coverage of crime in the media and an actual increase in levels of crime in the country. I will give you an example. If you look at the KwaZulu/Natal province which is a province which was a flash point of serious violent crimes for over a decade before the new government came into power, independent observers such as the Human Rights Committee issued a report, that was in November 1995, to the effect that for the first time in the period of ten years we are starting to see in South Africa a decline in levels of violent crimes in KwaZulu/Natal, so that's one. We will talk about the steps that were responsible for bringing that about.
We have had a problem in the Gauteng province which was the problem of car hijackings. Indeed for some time the car hijackers, the car thieves were perpetrating this crime with a high degree of impunity. The success rate with regards to apprehending these suspects, bringing them through the courts, getting them convicted, was appallingly low. Steps were taken to declare this type of crime, car hijackings, a national priority crime which meant that even though it was manifesting itself primarily in the Gauteng province it required the attention of the National Commissioner and his staff and the support to be given to the police in the province. An exercise which entailed analysing the various dockets that are related to this type of crime, car hijackings, was conducted and that resulted in the police forming a very good picture, coherent picture of the actual syndicates behind this type of crime. Since then we have started to see an increase in the number of people getting arrested and charged in courts for alleged involvement in car hijackings but we have also seen a number of police officers within the South African Police Service getting arrested for alleged involvement either in car hijackings or in car theft which meant to us that there was some kind of a link between these rising levels of car hijackings out there in the community and the problem of corruption within the SAPS which explained therefore this cycle of impunity, the impunity with which the criminals were perpetrating this type of crime.
So I am saying, therefore, that indeed there was a point at which it could legitimately be said that the country witnessed an increase in levels of crime which I believe is not a peculiarity of our situation. Often when countries are in transition coming from the type of dispensation such as the one that we had in this country, criminals have had a tendency to take advantage of that period of transition. I believe, for instance, in the case of Namibia, one of our neighbouring countries, that for three years after the independence of Namibia levels of crime just shot up. At one point they went up by more than 200%. It took three years before the police service in that country started to get to grips with the problem of crime. I think in our situation we are actually beginning to come to grips with this problem and of course in a period of less than two years.
POM Is the nature of crime more syndicates and gangs and Mafiosi rather than individuals like burglaries, murders, assault, which would be more associated with individuals rather than syndicate crimes which would be on a highly organised basis? Which is the main problem?
SM It's a combination of the two but when the President opened a session of parliament last year, 1995, he said that he had directed the Ministry of Safety & Security and the National Commissioner to take immediate steps to ensure a reduction in levels of crime in the country and indeed in implementing that directive the first thing that was done was to scan the country, identify areas in the country which are flash points of serious crimes and it emerged that in the main you were talking about, not exclusively, but in the main you were talking about four provinces, namely Gauteng, KwaZulu/Natal, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape where levels of serious crimes were quite high. In the case of Western Cape we are talking about taxi violence and gang related crimes. In the case of the Eastern Cape gang related crimes as well as stock theft and to some extent taxi violence. Gauteng, taxi violence and car hijackings. KwaZulu/Natal, mainly politically motivated violence. Then of course you would have a problem of narcotics which cuts across provinces but it is more serious in some provinces than in others.
POM When you talk about gang crime is this small scale gangs or nationally organised gangs?
SM Well in the case of the Western Cape that's where this problem of gang related crimes is more pronounced. These are well organised gangs. They do have connections outside that province and that obviously has to do with the levels of organisation on their part. So, as I said, both organised crime as well as spontaneous crime are responsible for the high levels of crime in the country but in terms of our assessment organised crime is responsible for a substantially higher level percentage of violence than spontaneous crime is which means therefore that focusing on organised crime will lead to a substantial reduction of the levels of crime in the country and this is where we have been directing our attention, organised crime.
POM There was this same argument a year ago in Hollard Street outside the Gencor building between President Mandela and F W de Klerk when President Mandela in the course of an address he was giving said that crime was the result of apartheid and F W de Klerk took exception and they had a finger wagging confrontation outside and later on President Mandela said that part of the problem from his perspective was the distribution of police stations and police resources that under the old government, of the 700 police stations I think he mentioned 500 were located in white areas and only 200 in black areas, and the same went for resources. Is that still the case in terms of the distribution of resources or is there a change in distribution of resources?
SM Well there is an obvious attempt on our part to direct resources where they are needed most. The process of identifying what we call flash point areas was intended to ensure that having identified those areas we then build the necessary capacity within those areas in order to ensure that the police are able to get on top of the situation. But it's not going to be a quick fix, there can't be a quick fix solution to this problem because as the President correctly said we have got more than 1000 police stations in the country, just over 1000 police stations, 80% of the policing resources, not just police stations, are located in the formerly white areas. So you have got that problem of the imbalance between your formerly white areas and the rest of the country. You have also a problem of an inequitable distribution of resources between the rural areas and the urban centres. Now if you are talking, for instance, about the problems of say physical resources such as police stations you can't solve that problem by closing down police stations in some areas. You can't pick up a police station and move it from one area to another and in fact the solution does not necessarily lie in closing down a police station and opening it elsewhere. It may actually lie in ensuring that new police stations are built, a process which is under way. We have identified areas where we require new police stations but there is also a need to upgrade existing police stations. You had police stations especially in the former homeland areas where people did not have access to electricity, therefore you would have a police station relying on a generator to conduct its business. All these things are things that we are presently addressing.
But indeed I can't see any person who is committed to a process of transforming our country denying that one of the legacies of the apartheid system is the fact that we have now today inherited a police service which was not necessarily equipped to deal with the types of crimes that the country is experiencing today. Just to give you an example, we are saying that we are shifting emphasis now away from just having to appeal to the community to work together with the police, assist the police to attend to the problem of crime, which is important. We have had to do that because you had a police force which was discredited in the eyes of the majority of the people in the country. That's one of the shortcomings. In order for the police to succeed in their fight against crime they require the support of the community. Now no-one can deny that the apartheid system expected the police to perform certain functions which made them unpopular and therefore made this police/community co-operation impossible. So that's one of the problems.
The second problem is if we are saying we are shifting our attention therefore away from just seeking to legitimise the police in the eyes of the community but now placing more emphasis on ensuring that the police are more effective in the fight against crime. And of course from that perceived effectiveness there is going to flow increased legitimacy of the police when people feel that they are safer in the hands of the police. Now I am saying one of the things that you will want to do, which is what we are doing, is to say how do we target organised crime? We need good quality intelligence on crime because without good quality intelligence you are not going to be able to tackle the organised crime syndicates. Our crime intelligence section it's made up of very experienced personnel, but that is the personnel that was used then to gather intelligence on political activity, the activities of the opponents of the apartheid system. If we are to redirect that crime intelligence section what are the training implications? Of course I am not saying that we don't have answers to this, we have worked the answers out ourselves with the support of other police forces in other countries, so we are working on these retraining programmes for our personnel that are dealing with crime intelligence. But also don't you require new personnel to be recruited to be part of that section that is dealing with crime intelligence? So all these are the steps that we are taking. But in essence what it means is that we are addressing the legacy of apartheid policing.
POM Do you think there is a denial of this on the part of the white community in general, that from them you still hear the loudest complaints about how crime has gotten out of hand and somehow they dissociate it completely from the past, it's like something that happened when 'you took over' and that has nothing to do with the past?
SM Well you see some of the questions you are asking can be best answered by the white people themselves, but just to say that indeed I think some of the perspectives that people hold are informed by where they are coming into this new process from. I will give you an example. Two weeks ago the government issued a proclamation prohibiting the carrying of dangerous weapons, well that includes firearms, but we are talking about dangerous weapons which would include things such as sticks, spears, pangas, knives, the carrying of dangerous weapons and the displaying thereof by people who are attending public meetings and/or demonstrations. I saw editorials in the media, some of the critics in the media especially from the privileged communities, were saying that it is an ill-advised step we are taking because we are coming up with a proclamation which is highly likely to generate a lot of emotion and we are actually directing this proclamation at people who have been carrying these weapons for a long time and these weapons are not necessarily responsible for the killings which have taken place in the country, it's actually firearms that are responsible for a higher percentage of the murders which have taken place in the country. Now it is true that one of the problems that we have had to deal with was this proliferation of illegal firearms in the country, which problem we are addressing.
POM Now do you distinguish between such things as handguns which people might claim they carry for defensive purposes and AK47s?
SM No, but the point really I am making is that if you go to the townships of Soweto and you ask the people of Soweto whether they have over the past, from 1976, over the past 20 years, whether they have at all buried people who were victims of attacks in which sticks, spears and so on were used, they will actually tell you that they have lost count of the number of victims they have buried. They will be able to show you people who today are disabled as a result of attacks that were carried out with the use of spears, pangas and so on. Now these people may not be as vocal as those who do not feel threatened by the carrying of these weapons because no-one goes to a bank carrying a panga and rob a bank, they go there carrying AK47s and so on.
So the point I am really trying to make is that it is important for us to look at the situation in its totality and to arrive at some kind of national consensus as to how this problem of crime should be dealt with because as far as I am concerned if car hijackings are a problem insofar as they affect individual victims, they are also a problem insofar as they affect the economic growth of the country. They impact negatively on how South Africa is perceived by prospective investors and so on. But you also have problems of white collar crime for instance. You don't see your privileged classes expressing the same amount of concern about white collar crime as they would about bank robberies, car hijackings. So, indeed, I think as I said, the way this problem of crime is interpreted in some cases has got to do with where people are coming into this process, where people are coming from as they enter this process of transition.
POM Just to clear up one point, is the privileged community arguing that if they carry firearms that it's for self-protection, that they don't kill people, they don't use them for crimes and that therefore there shouldn't be this ban on the carrying of firearms as such?
SM No, well you see I think one of the things that must be understood is that we are not saying for instance even the debate about the burning of the other dangerous weapons, we are not saying that people should not carry these dangerous weapons privately in their homes and so on. It's necessary for people to have some capacity to protect themselves and we are not saying that people should not apply for licences to possess firearms and so on, although ideally one would want to see a gun-free society. But I think we are realistic enough to accept that for some time to come there will be a continuing need on the part of citizens to have the capacity, some capacity to protect themselves. There is no argument about the need for people to have licensed firearms and so on, but what we are saying is that whether licensed or unlicensed we must as government restrict the ability of people to carry and display weapons of any description in public.
POM And yet let's take this to what were once called 'cultural weapons' and have now been transformed into 'cultural accoutrements', a new word, and the Zulu march on Shell House the other day where they were in fact allowed to display or carry their cultural accoutrements, as they call them, in open defiance of the law. Now this obviously was a political decision but how often can you make political decisions like that particularly in KwaZulu/Natal where IFP supporters will continue at the urging of Chief Buthelezi and the leadership of the IFP to continue to carry and display what they would call their cultural heritage, that a Zulu always carried a stick and that you can't take away part of his culture or his heritage by simply issuing a proclamation banning it, and that to do so is to discriminate against that culture?
SM Well the first thing to deal with here is we issued a proclamation and attached to that proclamation was a schedule of weapons that we prohibited people from carrying in public. From the reports that I have received from the police, and some scribes in the media have written reports which corroborate this, is that the majority of the people who took part in that march were carrying shields and short sticks and those were not covered by the ban. We prohibited the carrying of spears and sharp pointed sticks. So I am saying that to the extent that the majority of the people are said to have complied with the ban, that is good for all concerned. It's good for them because indeed if they didn't comply with the ban they ran the risk of being arrested and charged, but it's also good for the public there because indeed this ban was imposed for purposes of protecting the public, members of the public and their property. I am aware also that there are people who were arrested. People came from various places. Those that were seen acting in violation of the law were arrested and the police told us beforehand that one of the methods they were going to use in order to police a gathering as big as the one that was expected, and indeed it was big, I think 12,000 people turned up, they were going to make sure that the proceedings of the day were going to be video filmed which means that should it happen that as they processed this video material they find that some people violated the law but they were not able to detect them in that big sea of marchers and so on, there will still be follow-up police action.
But I am satisfied that given the fact that the responsibility of the police was not limited to just arresting the people who were violating the law but to protecting, it extended to having to protect the public, I am satisfied that if you contrast what happened this year to what happened in 1994 where a similar march in 1994 left in its wake more than 100 people injured, a lot of property vandalised, 53 people dead, by contrast I am told that this year there was only one death which was reported which could have been linked to the march. There is no certainty as to the extent to which that incident was itself linked to the march. I am saying by comparison it seems to me that we are moving the country to where we intend to move it to.
Now coming back to the question of cultural weapons and it is said that we cannot separate a Zulu man from his traditional weapon, researchers and historians inform us that some time in the 19th century King Cetshwayo, a Zulu king, prohibited his subjects from attending cultural events carrying spears. I don't think that he was not committed to promoting the culture of his people but the reason for taking that step on his part was that whilst indeed it was a cultural thing for Zulu men to come to an occasion like that carrying a spear, on a few occasions previously before he took that step there had been accidents when people were dancing after they had food, beer, traditional beer and so on, where people accidentally got hurt as people were dancing, prancing, carrying these spears, and indeed it was for security reasons that the King decided to say people should not come to these cultural events carrying spears. I think the same logic underpins the steps that we have taken now to say that people may or may not be having the intention to injure others as they carry these weapons but the reality is that we have seen situations where people were killed through the use of these very weapons. So it seems to me that if you had to choose between saving lives and pleasing people by allowing them to carry dangerous weapons, the most responsible thing to do will be to choose to save lives and that is the choice we have made. It is also untrue to say that this step was intended to discriminate against people of a particular ethnic affiliation because if you look at the magisterial districts in which this proclamation is going to be operational or rather to operate, they are 74 in all and only 17 of these magisterial districts are located within the KwaZulu/Natal province. I can't imagine that an order directed at magisterial districts in Secucuneland in the Northern Province is directed against Zulu speaking people.
POM But they perceive it as being directed against them.
SM I don't know what the basis of their perception is because as I am saying they don't live in Secucuneland.
POM But those who live in KwaZulu/Natal will see the proclamation as an attempt to take traditional weapons away from Zulus, to disarm them as it were, it's the ANC imposing its will on supporters of the IFP.
SM No, but you see there is this fallacy that every Zulu speaking person supports the IFP.
POM I'm not saying that, I'm saying ...
SM No, no, I am saying if this ban affects IFP supporters in KwaZulu/Natal it must equally affect ANC supporters in KwaZulu/Natal. It must affect National Party supporters in KwaZulu/Natal. It must affect people who do not support political parties so I don't understand why this should be reduced to one political party.
POM But to listen to Dr Buthelezi one would think that it was. For him it's a political issue not a safety and security issue.
SM But Buthelezi is notorious for making statements which do not make sense.
POM Can I tell him that?
SM He must say to us what it is that he gains from the fact that people get killed through the use of these weapons. If there is something that his party gains politically then that is what he must talk about but I am saying that I can't see anybody justifying the continued carrying in public of these weapons on political or on any other grounds.
POM Even though you talked earlier about the level of violence going down in KwaZulu/Natal last year it's been on the increase this year, certainly since the beginning of 1996, and there is increasing concern about whether there will be more before the local elections at the end of May. I know that you, or the Commissioner did, announced a package of measures that you are taking to ensure that the level of violence is as low as possible. You've a situation there that's lasted over ten years that most people would say is a situation of low intensity conflict at best and why despite the number of times Dr Buthelezi and President Mandela have met, despite the National Peacekeeping Force and despite mediation committees, despite a host of peace initiatives or attempts to bring the violence under control it appears to be so rooted that you just can't get to the stem of it?
SM I was saying that last year during the Christmas period there were three incidents of violence, big incidents, massacres took place in the lower South Coast region of KwaZulu/Natal. It had been one of the serious flash points for years this area and a special team of investigators was established, investigators from outside that area. They were sent in with a mandate to investigate those three incidents. They went in there, a witness protection scheme was established and people with information which could lead to the arrest of the perpetrators of those three incidents were called upon to come forward with the promise that they would then be protected as potential witnesses. People came forward, they gave information which enabled the police to make a breakthrough and they arrested suspects. They identified suspects in connection with these three massacres, but the information which was brought forward by these witnesses enabled the police to reopen cases which had been investigated before. Some of them involved incidents that occurred as long ago as 1992/1993, to reopen those cases and they are making arrests in connection with those cases, cases which were closed because the local police were saying they were unable to detect suspects. So I am saying they are now investigating in total 24 cases.
But because of these arrests which were made since January this year there has not been a single reported incident of violence in the lower South Coast region of KwaZulu/Natal. Was it 1994 when we formed the Investigation Task Unit? 1994 an Investigation Task Unit was established to investigate allegations of the existence of hit squads within the then KwaZulu Police, the South African Police, the ANC, the Inkatha Freedom Party, and those investigations led to amongst other things the case involving the former Minister of Defence, General Magnus Malan and 19 others, specifically about an incident which took place in 1987 where 13 people, including women and children, were killed and that case was not solved. And there have been other arrests carried out by this Investigation Task Unit. I think that despite the fact that you continue to see people getting killed from time to time in that province, side by side with those developments we are also beginning to see the back of organised violence in that province getting broken. I do not expect that we can have an immediate solution to that problem but I think with this hardnosed investigation that is being conducted in the province and other measures which we have implemented which include the setting up of road blocks in selected areas, the search for firearms in some of these areas, and there have been seizures of illegal firearms, and the arrest of people who are found in possession of these firearms, I think that we are increasingly beginning to address the problem of violence in that province more effectively than it was addressed in the past.
POM So to those who regard the situation in KwaZulu/Natal as being a powder keg waiting to blow up you would think that's an exaggeration, that it's no longer the powder keg it once was?
SM Well I will say that I think certainly the people who were responsible for the killings, for the violence over the years, more and more these people are being identified and the law is taking its course, but I don't think that we can say we have removed everybody who was and continues to be responsible for the violence in the province. So when people think that we must expect more violence in the province, I think they are correct in saying that we must expect violence in the province but I don't think they should say it in an unqualified way because it's not as if the perpetrators of violence are still as convinced as they used to be for so many years that they could do these things with impunity.
POM Talking about the Malan trial for a moment, you have had General Viljoen saying, I think Mr de Klerk as well, that this could have a potentially explosive impact on the country if they are found guilty. On the other hand, what if they are all found innocent? What signal would that send to the black community in this country?
SM Well the first thing is that the Attorney General would not have decided to prosecute if there was no basis for prosecuting. The police investigated the matter, they put some evidence before him and he decided that there was a basis of prosecuting. I think that must be the starting point and I don't know whether you have been following this case but it is clear, without pre-judging the outcome of the case, that it was not a decision taken arbitrarily by the Attorney General to start with to prosecute. If on the other hand these people are found guilty I don't know why should the country explode because people were found guilty for having committed crimes.
POM What if they are not found guilty?
SM Yes, well if they are not found guilty, they are not found guilty.
POM What message do you think will that send to the black community? Will they regard it as a reflection of the system of justice?
SM The point I am really making is that when people are suspected to have committed crimes it's important that the police investigate. That has happened, that's the first thing. Two, once the police have investigated they must put that evidence they have collected before the Attorney General for the Attorney General to decide whether to prosecute or not. When people get prosecuted the case can go either way. They can either be found guilty or they can be acquitted. Now every citizen has got a right to a fair trial and I am convinced that Magnus Malan and his co-accused are being given a fair trial. So I am saying if they are acquitted and they are acquitted as a result of a fair trial having taken place, then they shall have been acquitted and I am saying that that is not irregular, it happens in every country.
POM But given the particular circumstances of this country and the well known and established pattern of abuse on behalf of both the police and the security forces during the apartheid era, surely the majority of the black community is not going to take a not guilty verdict with that kind of same absolute rationality with which you are speaking?
SM No, sure, I would imagine that one of the responsibilities we have, we are a newly emergent democratic country, and one of the responsibilities you have is to teach people about their rights but also to get people to realise that we are low governed society. We have to accept that there are certain institutions that have been established in terms of our constitution, they have got their role and place in this democratic dispensation that we have and we have to respect decisions that are arrived at by the courts of law.
POM Now you're a fledgling democracy, I'll just make the comparison with two cases, high profile cases in the United States. Rodney King, the jury came in with a verdict of not guilty. The black community literally burnt half of Los Angeles. You have the O J Simpson case, when the verdict came in you had the white community saying that the evidence of his guilt was overwhelming, you had the black community saying that it had been a just and fair trial and that he deserved to be acquitted on the basis of the evidence. A clear racial response to both cases reflecting the racial tensions in the country. Why do you not think that a verdict of innocence in the Malan case would spark a reaction of that type and that you would have to have measures in place beforehand to take account of that possibility?
SM Well that's a separate matter but I think the first thing that we need to agree about, which is really a question of principle, is that we cannot stand in the way of the law taking its course because of these considerations. We can't. If the state is of the view that certain people committed crimes it must proceed from the premise that they are not above the law. If the outcome of the case also has unintended consequences then we will have to say how do we deal with those unintended consequences. It is possible, as you are saying, that the white community may not be happy if these people are found guilty but some people told us that if these people are arrested there was going to be an explosion in the country. Such an explosion never came.
POM But the more important one is would there be a degree of unhappiness or discontent or outrage in the black community if they were found innocent?
SM No. I think there are many things that being a fledgling democracy of the kind that we are we must be worried about. The people who are standing accused with Magnus Malan, and Magnus Malan himself, were part of the security establishment previously in this country and a lot of people were saying, or some people were saying that you run the risk of antagonising important sectors of your security establishment. There are senior police officers who are standing trial with Magnus Malan, there are senior military officers who are standing trial alongside Magnus Malan and I am saying there was not a ripple in the air as a result of these arrests having taken place. It might well be also that nothing of the kind that we are speculating about the black community materialises in the event where the accused may be found not to have been guilty of these offences.
POM So if I were to surmise that there would be outrage in the black community as a result of a verdict of not guilty?
SM It's not only the black community that was horrified by things such as the killing of the thirteen people at KwaMakutha.
POM I know. What's interesting is that I've talked to a number of white liberals and what you call white liberals, whites very active in the anti-apartheid movement, and when I pose this question to them, they say, "What do you mean he's not guilty? He is." There was no presumption of innocence there at all. Maybe that's natural. But I'm saying if I were to make that remark that those who think that he is guilty, if I were to surmise that they would be outraged if he is found innocent, would I be overstating the case or could I possible be on target?
SM But doesn't that happen with every kind of case? If people believe in the community that we've arrested the right man for alleged rape or child abuse and the man is found not guilty in court, you will have this outrage if people believe that we arrested the right man. And if people believe in the community that we have arrested the wrong man for an alleged offence and the man is found guilty you will still have this outcry. But I am saying that these considerations are not to my mind serious enough to warrant government inaction.
POM We're not disagreeing. Do you think there will be public outrage of the revelations that General Malan is being whisked to and fro by military aircraft, he is being housed at a resort area in Durban, all of which is being paid for by the SANDF?
SM I think some of these things require explaining because you see the crimes which Magnus Malan and his co-accused are alleged to have committed would be crimes committed during the course of duty, in a sense, and in terms of the laws that existed then. I was saying when people are alleged to have committed offences during the course and scope of their duty the state is obliged to pay for their legal representation, which is what is happening in the case of Magnus Malan, of course also because in terms of our law people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, I am told that, yes, the state in this case is paying for Malan's defence. The case is taking place in Durban, he doesn't reside in Durban. The state has got a responsibility to make sure that he appears in court, which explains why he is being transported to Durban. I am told, indeed, when consultations take place between the accused and their lawyers they take place in the army guest house. He was Minister of Defence. So I am saying that the explanations which are being given for such assistance as he is receiving from the state appear to me to be plausible, but as I am saying sometimes people are outraged because this information is not made available to them, that what Magnus Malan is receiving is not preferential treatment, it's the kind of treatment that you would expect a state employee to receive in the circumstances in which he is.
POM Just a couple of last quick questions, and I could be incorrect on this figure. One is that despite the priority put on crime, as far as I recollect the increase in the police budget, or the budget for Safety and Security, was just 4.6% over last year and yet you have to pay higher salaries to keep the police in the force and everyone, you say, deserves higher salaries, you have to recruit more police, you have to build more facilities. Does a mere 4.6% give you that scope and capacity?
SM Well the allocation to the police budget does not include resources for infrastructure development. That will be catered for through the funds that we are going to receive from the RDP, the Reconstruction & Development fund, so that question of infrastructure development, as I'm saying, was not taken into account when the allocation was made. Secondly, the salaries of the police are not paid for from the police budget. They are paid for from the budget of the Department for Public Administration. Now indeed the question is still legitimate as to whether the police were given enough to enable them to implement their operational plans. I have asked the police to produce what we call an annual police plan which plan is going to give us an indication as to how much exactly the police will require in order to effectively implement their plans and the approach on the part of the Ministry of Finance and the Department for State Expenditure has been one which leaves room for supplementary allocations where appropriate. So I am not unduly worried about the allocation that we have received.
POM The last question. On Human Rights Day President Mandela made an extraordinary statement that there were elements within the police that were out to destabilise and undermine the state. He talked about while the ANC had gained political control they had not gained power as such. The Commissioner said he wasn't aware of any elements within the police force. He took back whatever remarks he had about a possible coup d'etat, which was only reported by one newspaper, The Citizen, no other news outlet even reported that he had taken that particular remark back. But there was no comment on the larger remark that he made. He wasn't asked to explain in more detail what did he mean? Where had he got his information?
SM No, these things that were called retractions, there was no retraction of anything on the part of the President. I was not at that particular meeting.
POM There was no retraction?
SM No. I was not at that particular meeting but the President was addressing two separate meetings in one day in KwaZulu/Natal. After he addressed the first meeting, as I am saying I was not at that meeting, I started to receive enquiries from people in the media who had received a story that was filed following the remarks that the President made. People wanted to know what those remarks were based on, alleged attempts to stage a coup by elements within the police service. So indeed I was myself surprised so I got in touch with the President who was on his way to the next meeting. That was the point at which he himself became aware that certain remarks were attributed to him which remarks he did not make. That is why when he went to the second meeting he then said, "I understand that some of you", he was addressing the media, "misunderstood the remarks that I made in the previous meeting." He did say that there are elements who are intent on undermining the programme of the government of national unity. If you take KwaZulu/Natal where he was speaking from, the government wants to make sure that we bring that violence to an end, we stabilise the province. How do you explain the fact that it took a team of detectives from outside that province to make the breakthroughs of the kind that I was telling you about and the local police could not make those breakthroughs all along? That's an act of sabotage. We now have a parallel investigation, parallel to the one that I told you about, an investigation into allegations of police complicity in that violence. Of course if the police are involved at all or doing anything which creates an impression that they are involved in that violence, that runs counter to the policy of this government and those are the sorts of things that the President was talking about. But overall he still said that he is satisfied that there are enough men and women within the South African Police Service who are committed to upholding the constitution of the country. He said so.
POM On the way out I'll ask this question, but I am on my way out. Are the media fair to you? I mean not fair to you personally but fair to painting the picture of crime in the country, that measures are being taken to bring things under control, that the picture is changing, or do they still glorify the murder here and the murder there so that they create the impression that you're losing the battle against crime?
SM I am saying that perhaps it is also possible that on our part we are not communicating all the things which are happening which are responsible for this sense of optimism that we have. Perhaps we are not communicating. But I also think that some of the mainstream media constructions of this problem do suggest that the media is not doing enough to inform itself about what is happening and to read properly developments in the country.
POM OK, thank you.